Five Steps That Lead to Greater Success with Flipped Learning

Editors Features May / May 11, 2018

– by Deborah Rasmussen –


I’ve learned from my own early experience with employee training, and now in my role as an Instructional Technologist, that instructional design is something we desperately want to skip over! It’s boring. It’s mundane. It is even painful at times (cognitively anyway) – yes? It’s not nearly as sexy as creating the videos or talking about the activities for the group space; not as interesting as methods of getting student buy-in, or chatting about the changing role of the educator who moves from the sage on the stage to the guide on the side through this learner-centered approach.

That said, I believe integrated instructional design is critical for a successful flip. In fact, instructional design is actually relevant to all of the sexy parts; it’s just a bit removed and perhaps not as transparent.

If we were to meet together to talk about your lesson plan or your ideas for integrating technology in the classroom, I’m one of “those people” who would probably ask you what feels like a million questions! At the very least it might feel annoying, but I’m sure at times it would feel like I’m being an obstructionist. I promise I’m not trying to be! I’m excited and enthusiastic to help you reach your goals and for your students to enjoy learning. Through all the questions, I’m applying learning theories and instructional models to help guide your individual situation.

There are times, though, when educators won’t have access to Instructional Design Professionals or Instructional Technologists. This is when a template can be especially helpful. The question prompts can help guide you through the critical decision points. Granted, some teachers just have a gift for teaching. You know who they are: the really experienced teachers or the superstars at your school, district, or institution. They may be successful with a brand-new approach, just jumping in and going with the flow. I admit that I’m not one of those people. I need a plan. I need direction, and I’ve found the more question prompts, the better! If you know about any gotchas along the way, I want to hear about them.

To that end, I’ve started to create my own template for Flipped Learning that I’m applying in my conversations with faculty. It’s still very much a work in progress. Each time I use it with another faculty member or collaborate with a peer, I refine it a little further.

Through that effort, I’ve learned that templates are a staged thing; kind of like learning to ride a bike. In the beginning, when I first started flipping, there were so many things to consider, details I wasn’t even tracking. Individual question prompts were really helpful to hone in on those details. It’s like the training wheels on a bike. After the second or third flip, I didn’t need all the question prompts, but the template framework still kept me upright and stable, like the trusting hands of an adult when the training wheels come off the bike. Soon afterward, though, I found myself riding off on my own. I continue to look back a time or two at the original templates, but now I’m creating my own, based on my own experiences and lessons learned.

My latest template is broken into the ADDIE stages. This is a common instructional design reference; the acronym stands for Analysis, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate. It’s really just the summary of a graduated process where the details get smaller and finer as you go through each stage from start to finish.

A: In the analysis stage, I’m looking at the big picture- the final product or desired outcome and how my learners will get there based on the context and their characteristics. With flipping, I always ask myself several things:

  • What would I like to improve about the lesson? What would make this a successful flip?
  • What would be the best use of my face-to-face time with my learners for this lesson? What activities/instructional methods would help my learners apply this information in an authentic way?
  • If this is a current lesson, what are my learners currently doing during class? After class?

D: In the design stage, I’m moving in a little closer to the details and imaging how the instructional experience will flow. In the case of Flipped Learning, I always reference three different spaces: the individual space, the group space, and the extension space after the face-to-face class time. For example, these are the questions I ask for the individual space:


D: In the develop stage I’m looking through a microscope at the finite details and creating the materials I’ll be using with my students to make it all happen.

I & E: In the implement and evaluate stages, I have a place on my template for notes and supply lists, as well as question prompts to remind me to reflect on my overall teaching experience and my learners’ feedback. This ensures that I circle back to evaluate if my learners have met the original outcome and how I might revise the lesson for the future.



I love the integrated nature of instructional design that helps me bring all the pieces of my flipped lesson together. I still come face to face with the sexy parts, but hopefully, my template helps me avoid some of the common pitfalls that lead to those conversations in the first place!

Do you have a favorite template? Have you developed your own for someone else? What do you think a flipped template must have? What shouldn’t it have? I would love to hear about your own experiences and thoughts in the comments below.

Until next time, keep flipping!

Deborah Rasmussen
Deborah Rasmussen
I discovered a track for Educational Technology that included Instructional Design and completed my master’s degree in 2013 from Purdue University. Since that time, I’ve transitioned to higher education and have experience teaching as an adjunct for a graduate level course, re-designing the curriculum to include authentic project portfolios and a flipped component. I currently work as a Digital Learning Consultant at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, supporting innovative explorations to enhance the face to face learning experience. Over the past 4 years, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to collaborate with staff and faculty from multiple disciplines, supporting the integration of technology through one to one consultations, workshops, innovative technology grants, and enterprise-level initiatives. My specialty focus has evolved over the years and now includes blended learning, instructional design, and flipped learning. In an effort to break down silos and share challenges and best practices, I currently facilitate a new multidisciplinary Community of Practice for Flipped Learning.

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