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Every Student, Every Class: Improving Active Learning by Flipping a Russian Classroom

Flipping a Classroom

Course Integrated:

  • Russian 102: Elementary Russian


  • Kristen Welsh, Associate Professor of Russian Area Studies
  • Juliet Habjan Boisselle, Director of Digital Learning, IT Services
  • Stanley Weaver, Digital Learning Consultant, IT Services
  • James Prowse, Hobart College ’15

Goals and Objectives:

  • Explore how a "flipped" classroom might enhance face-to-face class time to enhance language learning.

A formal grammar lecture reduces in-class practice time and can increase student passivity. When a class is flipped, lectures on basic concepts are presented via digital applications as part of homework. More time becomes available for active classwork in the fundamentals: speaking, reading, writing, and listening. Flipping is ideally suited to introductory language classes, but is not used as often in this discipline as it is in math and the sciences; Russian teachers have barely tested it. Used wisely, flipping gives students greater access to the best of what their tuition dollars represent: highly experienced, devoted teachers; small-group and individual learning experiences; and a vibrant classroom environment.

Digital Toolkit:

  • iPad to author brief video grammar lessons (approximately 5-7 minutes each) using touch technology and voiceover
  • Powerpoint slides to create the platform for the video lessons, some adapted from textbook
  • Explain Everything iPad app to combine Powerpoint slides with faculty narration voiceover and digital sketch annotation into video lessons
  • iMovie for fine-grained editing of learning objects created via Explain Everything
  • Jot Pro stylus for iPad annotation of video lessons
  • Canvas learning management system to integrate the video lessons with other course materials
  • iPad in-ear-headphones with remote and microphone

Digital Learning Team Role:

  • Identify possible iPad apps for creating video lessons and digital whiteboarding
  • Consult on video lesson prototypes and troubleshoot related technologies
  • Consult on various aspects of course integration of technology

Student Feedback:

This project was piloted in an extremely small class, so most student feedback is statistically inconclusive. One point that all the students and the instructor agree on is that successful implementation requires a built-in feedback and verification process: students will not view the lessons on their own unless they know that doing the assignment "counts." Next steps for the project involve developing and testing verification mechanisms. These may include tracking via course-management software and integrating exercises or quizzes that will launch once a student has finished viewing a video.

Related Resources:


Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.