Featured class: Bioethics, flipped

In Travis Rieder’s Introduction to Bioethics, students are treated to hands-on classroom interaction, an online textbook of lectures from seven KIE faculty, periodic guest lectures and Q&A from KIE director Maggie Little, and a chance to appear for a global audience of thousands as part of the next iteration of the KIE’s popular Introduction to Bioethics online course (MOOC).

The “flipped classroom” model has taken the world of educational design by storm over the past decade. Educators from elementary to graduate school have been experimenting with inverting their standard pedagogical model, moving “homework” into the classroom and “instruction” outside it.

On the college level, this typically involves using online resources for lecture, which students can access at their convenience prior to class, and using in-class time to ask questions and spark discussion. Students receive an unprecedented level of interactive access to their professors now that so much less time in class involves the one-way transmission of information from professor to student, and professors are able to radically enhance student learning by using in-class time to for collaborative learning experiences driven by student interest and need.

In this course, students learn not only from the KIE faculty involved in creating its Introduction to Bioethics MOOC, but a variety of other online resources and texts. The course uses the MOOC as the basis for a “living textbook,” explains Rieder, who served as one of the MOOC course fellows during its live run in Spring 2014, and is now a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University.

Classroom time minimizes lecture and maximizes the kind of reflection and interaction so important to building understanding, respect for difference, and individual beliefs on intense moral issues.

“This is something of an experimental class,” explains Rieder, in his introduction to the course textbook. “I think of this class as being ‘next-gen’, as it involves a kind of blending of traditional college learning experiences with technology-enhanced learning.”

Explore the course syllabus »