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Eastern Michigan University

Flipping the Classroom to Increase Student Engagement


Increased viewing hours

Flipped classrooms improve student engagement

Students create recordings to demonstrate proficiency 

The Challenge

Before 2009, Frank J. Fedel, an Assistant Professor in the Health Promotion and Human Performance department at Eastern Michigan University, faced a basic pedagogical problem: a lack of time. 

“Students are with you for a limited time, so how do you make the best use of that time?” Fedel says. “It occurred to me that providing information to students doesn’t necessarily require a two-way interaction. Take the case of textbooks and video. Are lectures fundamentally any different?”

Fedel and his colleagues at EMU became intent on flipping their classrooms by moving one-way communication outside of the classroom and reclaiming that precious time for group discussions, collaborative projects, and practical demonstrations.

Professor Fedel knew that lecture capture would be central to flipping his classroom and making his courses more personalized and interactive, but his ultimate vision was far more comprehensive. Fedel sought to leverage a variety of classroom technologies to create a learning experience unrivaled in any classroom. He envisioned a virtual space that would be “technologically savvy, collaboratively intelligent, and fun to use.” 

With the help of fellow innovator Jim Sweet, Clinical Coordinator of the Athletic Training Education Program, Fedel turned his vision into an entirely new development – the WIMPi project.

The Solution

WIMPi combines digital whiteboards, a custom information management system, Panopto lecture capture, and iClicker response technology into a cutting-edge interactive classroom. This combination of WIMPi technologies results in three basic efficiencies that create the groundwork for a more interactive student experience:

  • The custom information management system archives professor-vetted material in an organized and searchable format.
  • The iClicker interactive response system gives both students and faculty instantaneous feedback on subject matter retention and mastery.
  • The ability to capture instructor notes on interactive whiteboards and record the entire classroom session with Panopto – including any PowerPoint slides or computer screen capture – relieves students of the need to take copious notes during class. 

Fedel began using Panopto in August of 2009 and swiftly became proficient at recording lectures. The following semester, he used it more extensively by recording practical demonstrations and laboratory preparation exercises. He also broadcast a recording of his first remote guest speaker (a colleague from another program) who immediately elected to incorporate Panopto into his own teaching after seeing how it could expand his geographic reach. 

Fedel initially implemented Panopto within his own department, Health Promotion and Human Performance, in classes for potential nursing students. The following year he expanded use to include EMU’s Master of Science program in Orthotics and Prosthetics, and instructors from Athletic Training, Exercise Science, History and Biology all began researching Panopto integration for their programs.

“I have anecdotally noticed a real difference in the classroom presence of my students after including the lecture capture option. They’re asking more sophisticated, in-depth questions during discussions.”

Frank J. Fedel, Assistant Professor – Eastern Michigan University

The Impact

Professor Fedel and his colleagues at EMU are now able to reuse recorded lectures from past semesters as out-of-class viewing assignments for current students and create supplementary material at will, ensuring that classes remain focused on more personalized, interactive activities. 

Fedel recalls a significant uptick in viewing hours from the first semester he used Panopto to the second. “Former students still revisit previous class lectures, presumably to help them review for subsequent classes,” he says. “More than a few students have mentioned that they felt more secure and confident having the lecture recordings available as a resource throughout the semester. Many have asked for the capability in all of their classes.”

Fedel has noted an additional critical marker of success. “I have anecdotally noticed a real difference in the classroom presence of my students after including the lecture capture option,” he says. “They’re asking more sophisticated, in-depth questions during discussions.”

The WIMPi team is currently using Panopto for a broad range of applications beyond classroom capture, including the development of FAQ lists, preparatory exposure to lab exercises, student presentations, and the documentation of graduate student competencies.

The EMU Orthotics and Prosthetics program is moving toward the use of Panopto for all of its courses with both instructors and students creating recordings. Professor Fedel made it a requirement of every student in his classes to create at least two recordings per semester, which will remain in their digital portfolio as evidence of their performance. 

In addition to student recordings, the Graduate Orthotics and Prosthetics program has begun using Panopto to test their candidates’ competence in a range of acquired skills. This video documentation of proficiency will also remain in the students’ digital portfolios for use on the job market and later in their professional careers.

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