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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

The Flipped Classroom and the Flipped Book

I teach at least one class online each semester at Rutgers and had felt pretty comfortable with that system. I soon realized that the big challenge for online is that because students (and the teacher) can join in on a discussion thread at any time, you lose the traction that comes from an immediate back and forth, one idea sparking another, when we are all together physically and for a defined and limited amount of time. So I came with activitities designed to foster that kind of focused interaction, such as small group work. But even though the class seemed pretty good, I recently learned that it was a generation behind. Other teachers, I discovered, were video taping lectures, or creating power points with voice-overs as part of the on-line experience. Today I am going to take the plunge and tape my first lecture. As it happens this steo — incorporating the set lecture into online learning — was the key step in creating the Flipped Classroom:

What is a classroom and what is homework? Traditionally, the classroom is where a teacher gives a lecture and fosters group discussion, homework is where you work on skills by yourself. The Flipped Classroom, as I assume many of you know, takes advantage of technology to reverse this. The teacher does what I’m going to try today — tapes his/her lecture so students can watch that when they have time and then post comments. In class the teacher works one on one with the students to make sure they “get” it.

Now think about a book in this world. Traditionally the book is a long lecture given by the author to the reader. But what if the book were really a subscription deal between the author and the reader: you get the book, you get X amount of the author’s email time, Y videos giving background, Z classroom visits. The book is part of a larger relationship — at whatever tier you want to spend and consuming as much of the author’s time as s/he is willing to give up. We have always thought of teacher’s guides, book trailers, websites as marketing and educational extras. But what if, in the world of the Flipped Book, they were an organic part of the deal, the relationship the author offered? The Flipped book in the Flipped classroom — sounds interesting — I’ll tell you how the videotaping goes next time.


  1. I love this idea of the “flipped book.” I am just starting to write nonfiction, and am including activities one of my manuscripts. I could even envision a Web site where people could share their activities/discoveries they’ve made using the book.