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For-Profit Coalition Seeks to Bolster the Flipped-Classroom Approach

A new company is seeking to tap what it sees as a rich vein of research and a lucrative global market for an approach to teaching and learning called flipped learning.

A flipped classroom describes a wide range of educational methods, like just-in-time teaching, peer instruction, and the use of clickers. Advocates of the approach tend to share the conviction that students should engage actively with course material during class instead of listening to a lecture.

In other countries, flipped learning is more fully embraced than it is in the United States, says Errol St. Clair Smith, director of global development for the Flipped Learning Global Initiative, which he founded with Jon Bergmann, an author and teacher. At Istanbul’s MEF University, for example, all courses have effectively been flipped. But in the United States, Mr. Smith says, flipping rarely goes beyond the practices of individual faculty members or unique courses.

“There’s sort of a myopia about flipped learning,” says Mr. Smith. Good work is being done in many places, he says, but it happens in silos.

He says the initiative’s leaders believe there is a $500-million market for products related to course flipping. They include training, software and hardware, and other services. They expect demand to grow to about $2.4 billion by 2020.

The initiative has 30 partners, including private companies like MT Groupo, in Spain, and TES Global, in Britain, as well as the online platform Udemy, and various professors and practitioners. Fees for partner organizations start at $5,000 a year, Mr. Smith says.

Also part of the initiative will be a research lab of scholars, who will collect and distribute scholarship on the subject.

Correction (6/29/2016, 4:54 p.m.): This post originally misidentified some partners in the initiative. The venture includes the online platform Udemy, and various professors and practitioners, not MEF University. The post has been updated to reflect this correction.

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