Safe is Risky

Cartoon by Tom Fishburne -

Following on from the blog post, ‘What is the flipped classroom?’, it seemed that it would be useful to put the ideas discussed there into practice, and to design and build a flipped module in NILE. As you would expect, there is no one way of putting together a flipped module that will work well for everybody – how you choose to design and run your flipped course will depend on a number of things, such as the level of study, size of class, what you enjoy doing in your face-to-face sessions, and what it is that you’re teaching. How you design your course will also depend on what kind of blend you want between the online and the face-to-face teaching elements. For example, if you want to take a two hour a week face-to-face course, and put 50% of the teaching online, this could be blended as a one hour online and one hour face-to-face session every week. However, it could also be done as a two hour online session in week one, followed by a two hour face-to-face session in week two, and so on. You could also rotate the online and face-to-face sessions on a three or four (or more) week basis, or even have all of term one online, and all of term two face-to-face (or vice versa).

The (fictional) course that has been designed and built in NILE has been created with the following in mind:

Title of module: CRIT101: Critical Thinking – A Practical Introduction
Level: 4
Credits: 10
Duration of course: 12 weeks
Contact hours per week: 2
Blend: 50%
Blend type: weekly blend (1 hour online, 1 hour face-to-face per week)

Additionally, the course has been built with the aim that the face-to-face sessions should be highly participatory and focussed as much as possible on dialogue with and between students. Again, this is not necessarily how everyone will want to run their face-to-face sessions – you may prefer to do just in time teaching1, peer instruction2, team-based learning3, problem-based learning4, small-group teaching5, or any number and mixture of other things that you can do in a face-to-face teaching space.

If you would like to find out more, you can enrol yourself on ‘Critical Thinking – A Practical Introduction’ and browse through the materials and the activities. The course begins with a set of three Panopto presentations which introduce the course and the NILE site to students, so this is a good place to begin when looking through the course. To access the course, login to NILE and click on the ‘Sites and Organisations’ tab. Type ‘CRIT101’ in the ‘Organisation Search’ box, and click ‘Go’. You will then see the course listed in the search results. Click on the drop-down menu next to CRIT101, and select enrol (see screenshot below).

Enrol CRIT101

The course is fully functional, so feel free to contribute to the discussion boards and take the tests, etc. It’s also very mobile friendly, so works well via the iNorthampton app on iOS and Android devices.

If you have any thoughts on the course, suggestions for improvements, etc., please feel free to respond to this blog post, or to email me directly at If you would like to arrange a meeting with a learning designer to discuss what technologies are available in NILE and how you could further develop your own modules, please email



1. Just in Time Teaching (JiTT) is a responsive method of teaching in which the content of the in-class sessions is determined by student responses to online activities, often only completed between 1 and 24 hours before the class begins. For more information see:
2. Peer instruction is a method of teaching developed by Eric Mazur at Harvard University in the 1990s. For more information, a good place to start is:
3. Team-Based Learning (TBL) is an approach to teaching and learning developed by Larry Michaelsen. For more information see:
4. For more information about Problem-based Learning (PBL) (and enquiry-based and action learning) see:
5. A useful guide to small group teaching can be found in Phil Race’s book, ‘The Lecturer’s Toolkit, 4th Edition’ (Routledge, 2015). See, chapter 4 ‘Making small-group teaching work’.

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