Flipping the Classroom

Flipping the Classroom

Flipping the Classroom

Just as there is innovation in technology, there is also innovation in process.  When it comes to education, the process includes new teaching and learning techniques, one of which is a relatively recent trend called flipping the classroom.

Traditionally, the instructor would lecture or deliver the first exposure to new content to students in class, and assign homework for students to work on independently in order to gain the content knowledge.  

Flipping the classroom is precisely the opposite.  The student does the work of the first exposure independently before the teacher addresses it in the classroom setting, usually through videos or online methods. The student can then come to class already understanding the basic premise and prepared with questions that require a more interactive answer from the instructor.

This teaching technique allows students who understand the material to move quickly.  While those who need further instruction have an opportunity to work directly with the instructor to clear up points of confusion and to better understand more in-depth concepts.  Each student can progress as quickly or as slowly on the initial content since it is being learned independently.  Parts that are easily understood can be skipped and parts that need extra attention can be replayed as often as needed.

The instructor can spend time and energy developing better ways to interact with the students on a personal level as well as the content level in class, focusing on the more experiential and application aspects of the content and fostering better engagement from all students.  This creates a much more effective positive learning environment for both sides.

Who is using the Flipping the Classroom method?

Higher Education

Instructors are using the concept for every subject imaginable, for almost every age group.  Many universities have numerous graduate-level courses filled with flipped classroom teaching.  Advanced degrees often focus heavily on discussion and experiential learning, making them a prime target for flipped classrooms.  Students in such programs are typically older students who have demanding work and family schedules.  Therefore, the flexibility of working independently can be a major benefit.  

High School and Middle School

High school and middle school students often encounter flipped classrooms in courses like English, math, and many sciences.  There is a vast body of work that clearly shows higher classroom achievement and lower failure rates when students at these age levels experience flipped classrooms.  

Elementary School

There is even an increasing number of elementary school programs that utilize some form of flipped classroom, especially in conjunction with technology programs that provide tablets or notebooks for each student.  Though still a relatively recent technique – dating back to only the 1990s – the flipped classroom has been demonstrated to be beneficial to almost anyone trying to learn almost anything.

The flipped classroom has many benefits over the traditional classroom, but it cannot be handled in the same way.  As a student, here are a few tips to keep in mind if you are facing a flipped class:

1. Don’t fall behind!

 A flipped classroom requires the discipline to stay on top of the assigned reading and activities.  With the instructor expecting students to already have a basic understanding of the content prior to arriving in class, there will be little time to catch up in class.  Students who are unprepared will inevitably fall behind quickly, and  then will require the student to spend extra time independently studying to catch up that should instead be spent preparing for the next class. 

2. Have a plan.  

Understand what is expected, and form a detailed plan for when you will study and complete assignments before each class period.  An instructor in a flipped classroom will usually expect a higher amount of work to be done outside of class than in a traditional classroom, and it may not be possible to complete all of it the night before class.

3. Engage and be proactive.

The purpose of using the flipped classroom technique is normally to allow the instructor to more fully engage with the students on an interactive teacher-student level.  If you have questions or confusion about the independent assignments, communicate with the instructor right away.  This not only gives them more time to provide you with answers, but it shows you are engaging in the class on a more serious level.

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