Partners for Success: A Case Study for Designing A Flipped Classroom using Open Digital Courseware

Concurrent Session 4

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Brief Abstract

Join a faculty member and an educational technology innovator as they describe how a traditional face-to-face microeconomics course was redesigned for a blended flipped classroom learning environment by incorporating open educational resources (OER).


Brian launched his first company, Akademos, an internet-based company that focuses on new models of distributing physical and digital course materials, in 1999. After leading Akademos for more than 12 years, Brian left his operating role to found panOpen, a company that provides the digital infrastructure to support institutional use of Open Educational Resources. He's also been a mentor for Techstars, and NYU's edtech accelerator. Prior to his work in education technology, Brian was in academia: as a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Government and as a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for German Cultural Studies, both at Cornell University. He also received fellowships from the Mellon Foundation, University of Goettingen, and Yale University. Brian earned a bachelor’s degree with honors in English and political science at the State University of New York at Albany, and a doctorate in political philosophy and social theory at Cornell University.
John Fizel is a Professor of Economics with primary teaching responsibilities for microeconomic principles, managerial economics, econometrics, and sports economics. His research interests are in applied microeconomic topics including managerial decision making, worker tenure and arbitration, market efficiencies and failures, organizational corruption, and sports economics. During his entire career, John has been involved in learning theory and application.

Additional Authors

Jean is an instructional designer, project manager, and assessment specialist for Partner in Publishing. She is currently working on her dissertation specializing in Instructional Design for Online Learning in the School of Education at Capella University.

Extended Abstract


  1. Share the successful case study for redesigning a traditional face-to-face course to a flipped classroom using an open digital interactive textbook.

  2. Introduce participants to open educational resources (OER) and courseware, including new and innovative functions of customized digital learning platforms currently available to institutions of higher education.

Measurable Objectives:

By the end of this session, participants will be able to:

  1. Explain the definition of OER and list a variety of sources for OER and open courseware.

  2. Summarize the learning benefits of flipped learning environments.

  3. Describe strategies for improving motivation, attendance, participation, and learning outcomes while utilizing open digital interactive texts and courseware.

Session Description for Participants and Program:
As an innovative pedagogical teaching and learning model, the flipped classroom is one of the most popular trends in education. Flipped learning reverses the traditional practice of learning the primary course content in designated face-to-face class meetings via lecture to learning content prior to class meetings. When meeting face-to-face, this learner-centered instructional model enables the instructor to act as learning facilitators - rather than conveyors of knowledge - as they are engaging with the newly-learned material at higher levels of Bloom's taxonomy.   

The educational benefits of a flipped class result from the repurposing of face-to-face class time to a learner-centered instructional environment where students can inquire about difficult-to-understand concepts, test their application of knowledge, and collaborate with others one another in small-group problem-solving. Thus, flipped classroom models capitalize on active learning strategies that take advantage of the best of both face-to-face and online learning environments. Flipped and blended learning models now function symbiotically in today’s digital age, as the  traditional learning practice of the instructor as the center of knowledge becomes less and less relevant.

Although the literature supports flipped learning as an effective active learning framework, many faculty are hesitant to redesign their courses due to a fear of student resistance, time commitment, and lack of resources or professional development. Even when instructors achieve the hurdle of designing their flipped or blended course, many continue to struggle with the never-ending task of creating and updating course content in increasingly dynamic and changing online learning environments. Faculty observe their learners mindlessly regurgitation course content into papers, homework, and quizzes, when what they really desire is the assurance that students can apply the concepts to real-world situations. Whether instructors decide to flip part or all of their courses, technology and instructional design are critical to student engagement and success.

Finally, just as there seems to be no standard definition for the flipped classroom, neither does there seem to be a standard model for flipped classroom design. While many educators connect the flipped classroom to online lectures and videos, others see it as another name for ‘active learning’. For all these reasons, the flipped classroom model can be intimidating for faculty to design, as well as for learners to participate. Surprisingly, although many classrooms are filled with digital natives, students still often prefer the familiar tradition of the in-class lecture, followed by readings, assignments, and other homework outside of class.


Enter Dr. Fizel, whose main goal for flipping his general education course was to increase student engagement and and improve student learning outcomes. But he shared many of the same questions and concerns about the flipped classroom that deterred other faculty from embracing this innovative pedagogy:

  • How can I transition from “covering content” to engaging students in meaningful and authentic learning experiences that will prepare them for their professional lives?

  • How will I get students to show up to class prepared?

  • How will I motivate students to participate in the active and collaborative learning sessions?

He also had other concerns related to student success:

  • How can I update my course to help students meet 21st century learning outcomes?

  • How can I improve the affordability of my course materials?   

  • How can I make the learning materials accessible to students so they can study anywhere and anytime?

  • How can I find digital learning materials that align with my syllabus, course objectives, program learning outcomes, and general education outcomes?

  • Where will I get training?  

Join this session to learn how a seasoned Business instructor redesigned his traditional face-to-face Microeconomics course into a successful flipped classroom supported by an open digital interactive textbook. Dr. Fizel will describe his initial vision and goals for the flipped learning model, and an educational technology innovator will explain how his team of instructional designers and developers supported Dr. Fizel’s vision with an interactive openly-licensed digital Microeconomics textbook created by OpenStax.

Dr. Fizel will describe how he used principles of instructional design to overcome many of the obstacles that faculty fear - or experience(!) - when flipping their classroom in a blended learning environment, including student motivation, attendance, engagement, and perception. He will also share his strategies for avoiding these common pitfalls, including the “ticket” system, critical thinking assignments, a modified attendance policy, and unique instructional methods for grouping students for collaborative work. Dr. Fizel will demonstrate the positive learning outcomes that were achieved through following his course redesign.

Dr. Jacobs will introduce participants to open educational resources (OER) and courseware, including how new and innovative functions of customized digital learning platforms support technology-enhanced, blended, and flipped learning environments like Dr. Fizel’s Microeconomics course. These features include interactive formative assessments embedded in the digital text with developmental feedback and active reading functions such as highlighting and text boxes for note-taking.

In this Educational Session, you will:

  • Explore models of open educational resources to support flipped and blended learning frameworks.

  • Consider strategies for dealing with potential challenges to implementation of a flipped classroom in a blended learning environment.

  • Consider learning technologies to support a flipped classroom in a blended learning environment.

You will leave this session with:

  • A comprehensive matrix with current open educational resources, including sources for openly-accessible digital and interactive texts, courseware, assignments, and other learning materials.

  • The full microeconomics curriculum and pre-class learning activities for one day of class that you can use as a model for redesigning your own flipped learning experience.

Session Schedule (45 minutes):

The Introduction (10 minutes):

  • Introduction to the flipped classroom, its definition(s) and principles, and how the learning sciences support flipped classroom designs as a framework for active learning, critical thinking, and 21st century skills.

  • Introduction to the open educational resources movement, including

The Story (10 minutes):

A faculty member and an educational technology innovator will tell their story of how a traditional face-to-face microeconomics course was redesigned for a blended flipped classroom learning environment incorporating open educational resources (OER).

The Learning Outcomes (10 minutes):

  • Dr. Fizel will share his observations, student feedback and perceptions, learning analytics, and learning outcomes information as compared to his previous traditional face-to-face microeconomics course.  

The Lessons Learned (10 minutes):

  • Dr. Fizel will share some surprises and serendipitous discoveries from his new flipped blended learning design, including some lessons learned that you can apply to your own flipped learning environments.  

  • Apply it: In small groups, participants will use the case study to brainstorm instructional design strategies to avoid common pitfalls to their own flipped and blended learning environments.

The Questions and Answers (5 minutes):

  • Drs. Fizel and Jacobs will provide resources for further information and answer questions.

Learning Materials and Resources Provided:

  • Handouts, listed above, will be provided during the conference session

  • Session slides and handouts will be provided prior to the conference, and will be made available to the participants and the public via creative commons and the conference website

  • The case study will be submitted to the 2017 OLC Innovate conference proceedings.