Flipping Flop?: A Guest Lecture at CALI 2013


CALI logo

A couple of weeks ago, Debbie told you about the (then) upcoming CALI Conference on law school technology being held at Chicago-Kent from June 14-16.

Now that CALI is over, I thought I’d give you a rundown of the presentation given by my fellow Research Librarian Clare Willis and me (Scott Vanderlin) on the topic of flipped classrooms, and whether or not this teaching model can be effectively implemented by a guest lecturer.

The idea of flipping the classroom is that students watch videos before coming to class on a topic, and by doing this, in-class time can be spent on practical, hands-on work instead of lecturing.  For a great rundown on the idea of flipped classrooms, here is a TED talk given by Salman Khan, founder of the Khan Academy, which is itself one of the pioneers in the area of online video learning.

In our presentation, we talked about our own experiences with the flipped classroom format here at Chicago-Kent.  For the Spring 2013 academic semester, we used the flipped classroom model in ad hoc legal research lessons where librarians went into Legal Writing classrooms to teach.  As guest lecturers, we faced unique challenges in using out-of-class videos to assist with our instruction.

The number one lesson that we learned is that in order to make the flipped classroom format work, an instructor needs to have complete buy-in from students.  If only half of the class watches the video out of class, that presents significant challenges for the instructor.

Since we were guest lecturers, we found was that it can be particularly difficult to generate this buy-in from students because we have very little personal contact with the students prior to class.  As a result, it can be hard to convince the students how important it is that they watch the videos we distributed prior to class.  We found that building relationships with the faculty members whose classrooms we are visiting becomes crucial to making the flipped classroom concept viable for a guest lecturer.

For those interested in this topic, or if you are curious about our approach, here is our presentation in its entirety:


In addition to our presentation, Chicago-Kent librarians Emily Barney and Debbie Ginsberg also presented sessions at CALI.  Watch their presentation discussing the ABA TechShow:


and their presentation discussing “The Year of Living (with) Google”:

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