By Teachers, For Teachers
Is the flipped classroom really the new way of teaching and learning?
The educational buzzword “flipped classroom” has been gaining some steam ever since news broke about Kahn Academy doing it back in 2012. The idea of having students watch educational videos and learn at home, then come to school and use class time for reinforcing the concepts learned at home, seemed unheard of, yet revolutionizing. The idea that a teacher can lecture via video and that it could be differentiated at various levels really got people talking. Class time would be used for guided and group work, critical thinking activities would reinforce concepts and skills learned, and collaborative work seemed great. But with every new concept there comes questions and critical voices. What about the students who don’t have access to technology? Or are students are expected to learn through boring videos every day?
As these questions emerge, so do some answers.
Switching from a traditional classroom to a flipped classroom can be quite challenging because there are not a lot models to look to for guidance. Ideally, in a flipped classroom, students would watch a video presented from the teacher at home. Sometimes the teachers would attach a few notes for the students to help guide them. Then, the class time would be used for collaborative learning forms where discussions would be student-led, and students would use higher-order thinking skills and ask exploratory questions.
When students get the opportunity to learn information on their own, they get the chance to work at their own pace. Because the lecture portion is done at home individually, it is also an ideal way to differentiate learning. The flipped model allows for more class time to ask questions for students who struggle with the lesson the first time around. It also allows students to collaborate and learn from their peers. It has the potential to keep students engaged because the entire class time is interactive and students would never get bored.
One of the major cons with the flipped classroom is student access to the technology that is needed at home. Even when students do have access, they still have the ability to say that their “Wifi” wasn’t working, or their computer or tablet was being used by a sibling or it broke. In a traditional classroom, a teacher can send school supplies home with the student if they didn’t have any. Nowadays it’s not like a teacher can just send home an iPad with a student if they don’t have access to one. If students don’t watch the lesson at home, then how are they supposed to participate in the class discussion and group activities? These are a just a few of the concerns people are having.
A teacher’s role in a flipped classroom is very valuable because it changes the dynamic of the classroom. The teacher no longer delivers direct instruction -- they now take on the role of a facilitator, which allows them to individualize learning, as well as work with students more one-on-one. Each and every student has their education tailored to their needs. While this is a lot of work for the teacher at first, as time progresses it gets easier because the teacher is gathering their videos and materials which they can keep for future lessons.
The flipped model takes a lot of pressure off of parents because many times parents don’t even know how to help their child do their homework. Or some of the parents do the homework for their child so the student isn’t even learning. With the flipped model, parents can watch and learn with the child and have meaningful discussions together.
The best thing about a flipped classroom is that students get to work at their own pace. If a student isn’t sure that they understand a concept, they can just watch that piece of the video again. If they have already learned about a concept in the past, then they can just fast forward past that part. It changes the way students learn because it differentiates learning. Each child learns at a pace that is right for them, and in a way that works for them. A flipped classroom is individualized learning where all students get the opportunity to really use important 21st century skills. It allows students to engage with their peers and learn in a more meaningful way that is tailored to their needs.
What do you think about flipped learning? Have you flipped any part of your classroom instruction or homework? If so, how did it work out? We would love to hear about your experiences so please feel free to leave a comment in the section below.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.