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Flipping the classroom with itslearning pages

Merethe Hollen won second prize in the Best use of itslearning awards 2012 for her flipped classroom approach to teaching. While many teachers use itslearning to flip the classroom, Merethe’s use of pages to create interactive learning tools stands her apart. Here, Merethe explains how she flips the classroom and why.

At the Department of Radiography at the University College of Northern Denmark, every course is based on the principle of 50% physical presence and 50% virtual teaching. This is partly because of the large distances many students have to travel in order to reach the University and partly because the department sees a blended approach to teaching as the most effective.

A single online resource with all the information students need

As the Ethics lecturer at the department, Merethe uses itslearning pages to give her students a comprehensive overview of all the materials in ethics teaching. “We’re now using pages more and more in our department,” she explains. “Pages are so useful that we no longer ask students to look at the tree menu to find learning materials or assignments. Instead we add them to the relevant resource page. This way, students have all the resources, assignments and tests they need for each subject or module in one place. It makes it much easier for them to find and use.”

Pages are essentially like individual webpages that can include video (such as streamed lectures or videos from YouTube and other webpages), PDFs, images and links – enabling teachers to give students a wide range of materials on a single subject on a single page in itslearning.

As well as background material and learning resources, Merethe’s pages include links to testsassignments and online discussions to activate students and get them to use what they have learned.

If you want to try using pages in your teaching, check out Merethe’s pages recipe.

Developing an understanding of ethics

Ethics teaching is all about reflective reasoning. The key is for students to understand different ethics theories and then learn how to apply them to their own practice. For Merethe, this means building up understanding over the course – starting with simple dilemmas before moving onto more complex issues – but always exploring the reasoning behind decisions.

“A page in itslearning may include a video lecture of me explaining the theory, as well as PDFs, external videos and links to other learning materials on ethics theory. It will often also include a link to a multiple-choice test where students have to decide what to do in different situations. Students complete this test after they have read the theory. The key is not to give a right answer as such, it’s to reflect on why you chose the answer you did.”

To get this reflection going before class, Merethe invites her students to share their reasoning in an online discussion forum, which she links to directly on the page alongside the test. This way, Merethe can get a good overview of how her students approached each dilemma before they come to class, and her students enter the classroom already armed with the background knowledge they need to have a fruitful discussion.

“The students like the online discussion forums, but they still prefer the classroom discussions,” she says. “Online work is a good preparation, but not a replacement for, face-to-face teaching.”

Video lectures: the students’ favourite

When I asked Merethe what aspect of her online teaching her students prefer, she answers without hesitation. “They like the videos of the lectures I give. They can watch the videos in their own time at home, and press stop and rewind when they want to. Students really appreciate this, as it’s often important to understand a point and reflect on it before moving on.”


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