As you may have gathered from my past articles on this newspaper and my online blog I am a very strong believer that only technology can give us the essential paradigm shift the educational system so badly needs internationally. Technology more specifically Information Technology has finally become financially accessible to most of the social strata. Trust me , we will see a day when Internet access will be a fundamental human right (well maybe I won’t see it, but my son will)
So what is this flipped classroom? It is literally flipping the teaching methodology upside down, teaching at home and doing homework at school. Very simply put, learners follow the lectures at home through video lessons created by the teacher himself offering school time for individual problem solving, individual targeted teaching, one to one discussion and community discussions on the subjects.
I always insist that the student does not really “learn” at school (at least not in today’s ‘school’ is structured) a student will learn when he/she understands the concept being presented ergo, the learner learns on his/her own. Like this students can have questions ready on the material when they come to school, to use class time for problem solving, more time is spent one-on-one with students developing higher order thinking skills and engaging in richer learning experiences. Teachers are able to spend more time guiding, facilitating, and challenging students to learn more.
The flipped classroom methodology is showing extremely good results in research done internationally with students from the secondary upwards with most of the improvement being registered in the post-secondary levels. An unexpected outcome of this methodology is the vast improvement of the class dynamic with certain students automatically taking a mentoring role with other students. A study in Michigan, U.S.A. shows a staggering improvement of 30-40% increase in all grades as well as a reduction of 66% in disciplinary hearings and reported classroom disturbances.
Our classrooms have an inherent problem which stops us from maximizing the student’s potential, they are very teacher centric. Students show up for class to listen to the teacher (what we “used” to call teaching) with this specific model, students show up for class to discuss with their teacher to explore further possibilities. Student engagement is obviously bound to increase as well since the student is now coming to class for guaranteed benefit.
An added benefit of video lectures is that it gives the teaching staff time to absolutely nail the delivery and to work the best examples and descriptions possible in their own time, rewind, erase, re-write. Luckily all necessary tools are available for free, online services to upload videos in a private and controlled way, software to record screen casts and presentation, all you need is a microphone and a webcam.
Flip your instruction so that students watch and listen to your lectures as homework, and then use the precious class-time for what previously, often, was done in homework; tackling difficult problems, working in groups, researching, collaborating, crafting and creating. Classrooms become laboratories or studios, and yet content delivery is preserved.
Giving a learner control over the content is empowering to the student, one of the major, evidenced-based advantages of the use of video is that learners have control over the media with the ability to review parts that are misunderstood, which need further reinforcement, and/or those parts that are of particular interest. With the growth of open education resources via Youtube and Creative Commons, it is important to note that excellent video lectures have been and are freely/easily available to educators.
I am not stating by any means that videos alone are enough for the student, that is a very limited way of thinking about it, the class room time must be used for creative thinking for supporting learners for those things which educators should be doing in the first place.
A major roadblock or barrier to the implementation of this model is that many educators do not know what to do within the classroom, what to do with that “whatever they want to do” time. For educators, who are used to and use the didactic model, a framework is needed to assist them with the implementation of the Flipped Classroom. In other words, the message to teachers to do what they want during classroom is not enough to make this transition.
In order to minimize the flavor of the month syndrome (recall character education, phonics movements, multicultural education, Reading First, powerpoints in the classroom), the use of video lectures needs to fall within a larger framework of learning activities – within more establish models of learning, providing a larger context for educator implementation.
An excellent idea that has been implemented with the flipped-thinking model is that the learners will be required to produce a blog / diary of what they have learned encouraging free thinking and creative thinking about the material they have been learning.
For those of you who are thinking that not all learners have the means of watching online videos at home, current (early) adoptions of the flipped-classroom relegate specific times in the school day for video revision. At the moment the flipped thinking is being seen as the go between the current old educational system and where we eventually want to be.