Flipped Learning is a pedagogical approach in which direct instruction moves from the group learning space to the individual learning space, and the resulting group space is transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment where the educator guides students as they apply concepts and engage creatively in the subject matter (See www.flippedlearning.org).
According to Teachthought.com the main goal of a flipped classroom is to enhance student learning and achievement by reversing the traditional model of a classroom, focusing class time on student understanding rather than on lecture. To accomplish this, teachers post short video lectures online for students to view at home prior to the next class session. This allows class time to be devoted to expanding on and mastering the material through collaborative learning exercises, projects, and discussions. Essentially, the homework that is typically done at home is done in the classroom, while the lectures that are usually done in the classroom are viewed at home.
The Flipped Classroom Network, a professional learning community for educators using flipped learning stresses that we must distinguish between a Flipped Classroom and Flipped Learning…..the terms are not interchangeable. Flipping a class can, but does not necessarily, lead to Flipped Learning. Many teachers may already flip their classes by having students read text outside of class, watch supplemental videos, or solve additional problems, but to engage in Flipped Learning, teachers must incorporate the following four pillars into their practice.
THE FOUR PILLARS OF F-L-I-P
- F – Flexible Environment: Flipped Learning allows for a variety of learning modes; educators often physically rearrange their learning spaces to accommodate a lesson or unit, to support either group work or independent study. They create flexible spaces in which students choose when and where they learn. Furthermore, educators who flip their classes are flexible in their expectations of student timelines for learning and in their assessments of student learning
- L – Learning Culture: In the traditional teacher-centered model, the teacher is the primary source of information. By contrast, the Flipped Learning model deliberately shifts instruction to a learner-centered approach, where in-class time is dedicated to exploring topics in greater depth and creating rich learning opportunities. As a result, students are actively involved in knowledge construction as they participate in and evaluate their learning in a manner that is personally meaningful.
- I – Intentional Content: Flipped Learning Educators continually think about how they can use the Flipped Learning model to help students develop conceptual understanding, as well as procedural fluency. They determine what they need to teach and what materials students should explore on their own. Educators use Intentional Content to maximize classroom time in order to adopt methods of student-centered, active learning strategies, depending on grade level and subject matter.
- P – Professional Educator: The role of a Professional Educator is even more important, and often more demanding, in a Flipped Classroom than in a traditional one. During class time, they continually observe their students, providing them with feedback relevant in the moment, and assessing their work. Professional Educators are reflective in their practice, connect with each other to improve their instruction, accept constructive criticism, and tolerate controlled chaos in their classrooms. While Professional Educators take on less visibly prominent roles in a flipped classroom, they remain the essential ingredient that enables Flipped Learning to occur.
THE PROS OF A FLIPPED CLASSROOM
- Students have more control – In a flipped classroom, it is possible for students to have increased input and control over their own learning. By providing short lectures at home, students are given the freedom to learn at their own pace. Students may pause or rewind the lectures, write down questions they may have, and discuss them with their teachers and peers in class. Flipped learning also allows students who need more time to understand certain concepts to take their time reviewing the material without getting left behind, and receive immediate assistance from teachers and classmates. As a result, this can not only improves student achievement, but improves student behavior in class as well.
- Promotes Student-centered Learning and Collaboration – Flipped classrooms allows class time be used to master skills through collaborative projects and discussions. This encourages students to teach and learn concepts from each other with the guidance of their teachers. By allowing students to partake in their own learning, they are able to own the knowledge they achieve, which in turn builds confidence. Furthermore, teachers are given the ability to identify errors in thinking or concept application, and are more available for one-on-one interaction.
- Lessons and Content are More Accessible (Provided there is Tech Access) – By making video lectures available at all times online, students who are forced to miss class due to illness, sports, vacations or emergencies, can catch up quickly. This also gives teachers more flexibility when they themselves are sick and also eliminates make-up assignments.
- Easy Access for Parents to See What’s Going On – Unlike traditional classroom models, flipped classrooms give parents 24/7 access to their student’s video lectures. This allows parents to be better prepared when attempting to help their students and gives them insight into the quality of instruction their students are receiving.
- Potential to Free up Time for Other Things – In a flipped classroom, if done properly, kids can have more time to be kids, whether that means more free time, or more academic practice. As most of us can recall from our own experiences, a substantial amount of time is spent each week outside the classroom doing homework. In fact, a study done observing 9th-12th graders found that students spend an average of 38 hours a week doing homework. This is a tremendous amount of time, especially for the teachers who also have to assign and grade paperwork. Since flipped classrooms limit the outside workload to watching online lectures that is usually less than 10 minutes long, this gives students and teachers more time outside of class to focus on other interests such as spending time with friends, families, and hobbies.
THE CONS OF A FLIPPED CLASSROOM
- Exacerbates a Digital Divide – One of the most prominent issues is the necessity for students to have access to a computer and Internet in order to view the lectures. This is particularly hard on students from low-income districts who already have limited access to resources.
- Relies on Preparation and Trust – There is also the concern that since flipped classrooms are dependent on student participation, one must trust students to watch the lectures at home. Unfortunately, there is no way to guarantee students will oblige or cooperate with the flipped model.
- Requires a Significant Amount of Work on the Front-end – Additionally, there is a concern that implementing a flipped classroom adds an extra workload on teachers, as there are several elements that must be integrated carefully to allow the class to flourish. Responsibilities include taping and uploading condensed lectures, which take time and skill, and introducing activities in the classroom that will enhance the subject matter as well as motivate students to participate and prepare for class. Though teachers can gradually integrated flipped elements into their classrooms, it will still require additional time and effort from teachers.
- Is Not Naturally a Test-Prep Form of Learning – Whether you think this is a good or a bad thing is another conversation, but it’s important to realize that generally speaking, flipped classrooms do not “teach to the test.” Flipped classrooms do not follow the model of teaching to improve standardized test scores. However, teachers and students are still required to spend a sizable portion of time preparing for state mandated testing, which in turn interrupts the flipped classroom process.
- Time in Front of Screens Increased (Instead of People and Places) – There are some who believe that if every teacher starts flipping their classrooms, students will spend hours in front of a computer watching the lectures. One may argue that this has the potential to cause serious problems to student’s learning processes, as not everyone may be as adept to learning through a computer.
For more information on flipped learning, visit the Flipped Classroom Network website at http://flippedclassroom.org/.
Until next week, Happy Learning!