Designing Engaging Community-Based Courses with Blended and Flipped Learning

Concurrent Session 2

Brief Abstract

Moving college classes into community spaces provides benefits in terms of learning practical knowledge and learning professional dispositions.  Effectively utilize flipped classroom strategies and blended course design by categorizing learning outcomes by identifying if they need to be learned in a specific order and their relation to practical experiences.


Dr. Matthew Vick is a professor of science education from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. He has directed/co-directed two grant projects at UW-W: a two-year Wisconsin Elementary and Secondary Education Act Title IIA Improving Teacher Quality Grant entitled "Integrating Science and Literacy Learning with English Proficient and English Language Learners" and a one-year UW System Outreach grant entitled "Collaboratively Implementing the Vision of the Next Generation Science Standards in the Mukwonago Area School District with Pre-service and In-service Teachers". He has published research articles and a book chapter in science education as well as practitioner-based articles. He has presented at the National Science Teachers Association, the Association for Science Teacher Education, the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, and the Wisconsin Society of Science Teachers. He has served as department chair for the department of Curriculum and Instruction and interim associate dean of graduate studies.

Extended Abstract


By the end of the session, participants will be able to begin designing a blended, community-based course by

  1. Differentiating academic and practical knowledge objectives for their course

  2. Determining appropriate ordering of academic and practical knowledge objectives

  3. Evaluating which objectives can be met asynchronously


This session will present strategies for moving campus-based courses into community-based settings to leverage both academic and practical knowledge, sometimes referred to as “third spaces”.  In this case, it was a science education course for future elementary teachers that was moved to a local elementary school. While moving a course into “the field” provides opportunities for service-based learning, “real world application” of concepts, experience-based education, time traditionally devoted to developing academic knowledge is “lost.”  Both flipped learning and blended learning provide frameworks for a community-based course to be enriched without a loss of conceptual knowledge that is in a course’s objectives.

There are challenges with incorporating community-based learning experiences into the course itself rather than just adding these experiences as additional components outside of the traditional 3-credit course.  Scheduling student placements during the class-time can often lead to multiple times that students are not in a whole group setting conducive to traditional instruction. The instructor also gives some “control” of the course to the partners (in this case, in-service teachers) since these partners will have their own approaches and conclusions about course topics.  Rather than viewing these challenges as negatives, they can serve as opportunities for rich and complex learning, but this does require thoughtful course design.

In terms of course design, this session will encourage instructors and designers to first classify the course objectives and outcomes in terms of several categories:  (1) what academic or practical knowledge builds upon previous knowledge and needs to scheduled sequentially? (2) what academic knowledge should be taught before students have practical experiences in the course?  (3) what academic knowledge should be taught after students have practical experiences? (4) what knowledge can be learned asynchronously with the rest of the course content that is fully engaged in the community-based site?

After identifying objectives and outcomes for each category, the course can be structured using both blended learning and flipped classroom ideas.  Elements that can be taught asynchronously can be “pulled out” into a self-standing module that students can complete flexibly over a period of time.  For the sample science education course, this consisted of a variety of outcomes related to understanding domains of science education in the Next Generation Science Standards (Disciplinary Core Ideas, Crosscutting Concepts, and Scientific and Engineering Practices).  Students could read and learn about these topics at their own pace and take low stakes quizzes to check their learning. The knowledge on the standards was not a required component of the coursework until after students were required to complete the module.

The course outcomes that build upon each other were then used to construct the overall course syllabus and structure on a weekly basis.  Both an academic and a practical theme should be built into each face-to-face class period with a direct connection sought to make the learning experiences meaningful.  Learning outcomes that should be learned before the practical experiences are best addressed with a “flipped classroom” model because the practical experiences can be scheduled at staggered times during the class meeting.  Therefore, engaging students in learning about concepts before they are in their practical settings allows them to see examples in action. For example, education students learn about constructing good objectives through online activities before class so that they can identify objectives in their elementary school classroom.  Other academic outcomes are better taught after practical experiences. For example, education students often have a better ability to comprehend articles about classroom management after they have observed several in-service teachers in action. This online learning thus comes after the practical experience.

    The session will then engage participants throughout the presentation by asking them to share examples from their own courses (or other educational modules) that could be classified into each of the four categories presented.  This will likely demonstrate some “messiness” in classifying, which is realistic. A takeaway is that the choice of category can help to guide instructional design for community-based education to best leverage the advantages of blended learning (online modules) and flipped learning (scheduled learning before the face-to-face academic discussions and matched practical community-based experiences).  


Session Plan

Overview of the “third spaces” in education (5 minutes)

Identifying Academic and Practical Learning Objectives (5 minutes)

Categorizing Objectives into the 4 categories (10 minutes)

Designating content for “flipping” (5 minutes)

Ordering of academic and practical learning elements (5 minutes)

Application Table Discussions (10 minutes)

Q&A (5 minutes)


Engagement Strategy

Polleverywhere will be used to solicit audience feedback and ideas.  The application discussions will engage table participants in discussing how courses they design, teach, or support could begin thinking about moving toward a community-based model with online elements.