Inverted Classroom Model

Inverted Classroom Model

Der MMP Studiengang des IMP wird ab Herbst in drei Klassen in Chur und Bern geführt, was eine grosse Herausforderung in Bezug auf Lehre und Organisation erfordert. Die Interaktiven Medien, welche als Grundfach vom ersten bis zum fünften Semester vermittelt werden, setzen im ersten Semester neue Methoden ein, um die inhaltlichen und didaktischen Ziele zu erreichen. Das Konzept beinhaltet die drei Säulen «umgekehrtes Klassenzimmer», «Video Übertragung mit Feedback» und «intensive Übungen». Die Details des Konzepts waren ursprünglich publiziert auf der LATINA Seite (learning and teaching in a digital world), welche vom «Oslo and Akershus University College» ins Leben gerufen wurde.

The Inverted Classroom Model at the Bachelor Study Multimedia Production

The Chur—Bern Model


Starting fall of 2014 the Multimedia Production Bachelor study of the University of Applied Sciences in Chur (Switzerland) is run with three classes on two different locations. After defining the didactical models the decision to use the corresponding technologies has been made. The pillars of this model are the inverted classroom, the video stream and the intensive exercises. The students prepare the lessons at home with prerecorded video sessions. The class itself will take place alternately in Chur and Bern and is streamed to the other location. The two way stream allows feedback and discussion. The class is not a lecture but summarizes the content, explains the context, discusses key elements, solves problems and presents simple exercises. Finally the six exercise lessons deepen the skills of the students.

Prof. Martin Vollenweider
Lecturer for Interactive Media
Dipl. El. Ing. ETH
University of Applied Sciences HTW Chur
Institute for Multimedia Production (IMP)

Introduction to the topic

The University of Applied Sciences in Chur (Switzerland) offers a wide range of Bachelor and Master Studies. The program covers Bachelor Programs in Tourism, Civil Engineering, Business Administration, Information Science, Multimedia Production and System Technology as well as Master Programs in Business Administration (Tourism, New Business), Information Science and Engineering.

The Multimedia Production Bachelor study is aimed at students who are interested in producing and working with content (for example text, pictures, audio, video, augmented reality etc.) and use the media and programming techniques required for this purpose. The students move around safely in the tension fields between media, business, politics, society, law, applied computer science and journalism.

The key modules «Writing and speaking», «Visualization», «Convergent Producing» and «Interactive Media» last five semesters, the in the sixth and last semester the Bachelor Work is due. After successfully completing the course the students get the «Bachelor of Science FHO in Media Engineering».


Starting September 2014 Multimedia Production is run in three classes, two in Chur and one in Berne with a total of approximately 90 participants. The two cities are a two and a half hour train ride away from each other.

The Challenge

It is an enormous challenge to run tree classes simultaneously in two different cities. Beside the organisational and timetable related issues the question about didactical models to teach three classes also arouse. This question is also of high importance to the LATINA approach (blended mode, mix teaching & learning / teacher and learner, international orientation etc.). It has been decided to run a test in the first semester with the module Interactive Media within Multimedia Production. It is widely agreed that the learning performance is independent of the technology (Kerres, M.: Mediendidaktik 2013).

In our case the learning goals for the students are clearly defined. The have to understand how web based applications work, how they are build and are able to describe their strengths and weaknesses. Further they are able conceive, plan, develop and build working prototypes of such applications. Since the twenty to twenty-five years old students belong to the group of digital natives, the lecturer has to choose another approach than to just presenting topics and contents of the lesson.

The Lecturer as a Coach

Most of the students in the first semester are somehow familiar with technologies like HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and even programming languages (such as Javascript). In many cases they have a punctual understanding of the techniques only, the broader picture, the broad context is missing. Therefore it is sometimes hard for the students to understand the context between the technologies, how they work together and how they are integrated in a real life web based application. Another important issue is that the students have some knowledge, but the skills to easily plan, build and deploy an application are missing. Those are the reasons why the lecturer has to be seen more as a coach than as a teacher. The coach finds out the missing puzzle stones, the ignored contexts and the lack of the skills and pushes the students in those directions. This approach is widely known, has been done successfully by many lecturers and is completely independent from the technology. The LATINA approach goes one step further. The classical role between coach and students is transformed to the model lecturer and learner. Nowadays some students have a broad knowledge and high developed skills in many areas. If this familiarity is in the field of the course topic, the students also can act as coaches and provide the knowledge to the other students and the coach. In the field of interactive Media technology is changing rapidly. It is close to impossible that a coach is deeply familiar with all the existing and forthcoming technologies. On the other hand the Universities have to make sure that they offer a high knowledge transfer. With this approach (which we tested in the last semester with the fairly complex topic of SQL Injections) the flow of knowledge can be increased and everybody benefits.

The Inverted Classroom Model

Inspired by the experiences of other lecturers (Handke, J.: Patient Hochschullehre 2014) we decided to implement the Inverted Classroom Model in the first semester. It also solved for us the question how to teach three classes in two cities simultaneously.

As a brief summary the flipped teaching (or flipped classroom, inverted classroom) is a form of blended learning. The students usually at home learn the new content online by watching video lectures or reading internet articles. In class the coaches summarize the content, explain the context and offer personalized guidance and interaction with students, often in the form of homework. There is no lecturing during the lessons. To make sure that the students are well prepared for the class (in which homework and exercises are done and therefore the skills are improved) they have to pass an online test. The quiz is not graded but the students have to pass it with more than 60% correct answers.

Eric Mazur states that «Learning is a two-step process. First, you must have some transfer of information; second, you must make sense of that information by connecting it to your own experiences and organizing the information in your brain». (Campus Technology: 6 Expert Tips for Flipping the Classroom 2013).


The Chur and Bern Model

The Inverted Classroom Model as described above does not take the three classes in two locations into consideration. We developed a new model


In the first week of the semester the Inverted classroom is not implemented. A traditional lecture for the two classes in Chur and the class in Bern are held. The content of the class is (beside a brief introduction in the administrative matter) an overview of the topic in this and the next semesters as well as a sensitization for the Interactive Media. This happens in calendar week 2. At the end of the semester (in calendar week 2) the same model is performed to reflect the experiences made in the course.

In the calendar week 39, 44 and 48 the lecture is held for all classes in Bern. Since the students from Chur are not able or willing to travel two and a half hours to the other location, the content is video streamed to Chur. It is important to notice that it is not a one way communication. The students in Chur can chat and communicate with the coach (as well with the other students). They can ask questions, make comments or send feedback using the Adobe Connect software. The sessions are recorded as well. Remember that the class is not a lecture, but summarizes the content, explains the context, discusses key elements, solves problems and shows simple exercises to increase the skills. It is expected that the students have watched the video sequences with the actual course content before class.

In the weeks 41, 46 and 50 the procedure is repeated, this time the lecture is streamed from Chur to Bern.

The main focus of the module lies in the exercises. The students have to solve more complex and longer tasks. The exercises are done class wise with the help of student tutors. It means that the 30 students in class are supported by two coaches.

The three Pillars

The Chur and Bern Model of the Interactive Media consist of three pillars, the inverted classroom, the video stream with the two way communication and the intensive exercises. Implemented also is the model of exchangeable lecturer and learner. The main goals are more flexibility for the students when and how fast to gain knowledge, to therefore motivate the students, to increase their skills and to give students more elasticity in the whole learning process.

An ideal Classroom

It would be useful to have a specially designed audience room for the three classes. So far either Chur or Bern is always virtually connected; the students can chat to the coach and the other students with the help of Adobe Connect.

The ideal solution would integrate the other classroom much more. If a lecture was held in Chur for example the classroom in Bern should be recorded with a camera, broadcasted to Chur and projected there on the back wall of the classroom. The same happens vice versa in Chur.

In other words the students always see the other classroom in a projection and have the impression of one huge audience. This should give the feeling of a large student group and not different classes.


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