How This California Polytechnic State University Professor Re-engaged His Students by Flipping the Classroom

Going beyond the textbook with engineering students

California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) Professor John Larson realized textbooks weren’t engaging his college students in the way he needed them to. He explains that students — in general — don’t enjoy reading from a textbook, so they often don’t do it. And that’s a problem when his job is to educate and prepare his students for a career. To confirm his hypothesis that students weren’t using the course’s textbook, Professor Larson surveyed his students by asking how many of them did the assigned reading before class. And the survey says… only 5% of students read the chapter.

When students aren’t engaged, it makes it very difficult for them to learn and retain important information such as how to create SOLIDWORKS 3D models or how to interpret engineering graphics.

Professor Larson needed to innovate his courses at Cal Poly in a way that was simple for him to implement and could be used by learners at all levels. He turned to SolidProfessor to help engage students through video-based learning.

LEARN MORE: Discover the Teaching Method that Appeals to All Learning Styles

Engaging Cal Poly engineering students through video-based learning and hands-on education

Switching his assignments from textbooks to video-based learning allowed Professor Larson to flip his classroom. He assigns SolidProfessor online lessons, exercises, and quizzes as homework.

By integrating online learning into his curriculum, Professor Larson’s students are now able to pause, rewatch, or move more quickly through any given lesson.

He explains that the more advanced students can go beyond the curriculum, while the students who need more time with a concept can rewatch the expert-guided videos any time, anywhere until they’re confident they understand everything. “SolidProfessor allows all of our students to fully learn the material at their own pace.”

And instead of spending class time lecturing, he’s able to use that time for students to apply what they’re learning at home with SolidProfessor. “We can only cover so much in class. We are jamming a lot of content into classes and we can’t cover everything. SolidProfessor is a great vehicle for students to learn about the various topics we cover very little of, if at all, in the classes,” says Professor Larson.

Because students are more engaged with their coursework, Professor Larson has noticed an increase in material retention and, ultimately, fewer questions asked during class. He explains that in any college classroom, there’s a wide range of engineering design experience. For instance, some students have been using design software for a couple of years while other students are new to the material and need extra help.

Prior to SolidProfessor, the 10% of students who needed the most support always ended up taking up the vast majority of his attention. “If you have 90% of the questions coming from just 10% of the students, that is not a good situation. SolidProfessor helps that [bottom] 10% of students to be better prepared so I do not spend as much class time focusing on just those 10% of students.”

READ MORE: How to Flip Your College Classroom in a Few Easy Steps [Infographic]

Flipping your classroom is easier than you think

SolidProfessor for Schools makes it really simple to flip your classroom. You can engage students outside of class time through expert-guided video tutorials about the industry’s most popular CAD, CAM, and BIM software and engineering methods.

Using the SolidProfessor dashboard, professors can choose from a library of 5,000+ video lessons to build custom assignments for SOLIDWORKS, Revit, 3D printing, and more.

Students can watch SolidProfessor’s expert-led video lessons while simultaneously designing in CAD software. Plus, SolidProfessor’s ready-to-use exercises and projects are a great way for students to practice what they’re learning as they go. This frees you up to spend more class time focused on hands-on projects that’ll prepare your students for the real world.

John Farmer
About the Author

SolidProfessor Digital Marketing Manager and keeper of Rahn, the office dog.