In the traditional classroom, the teacher lectures for the majority of the class time, gives an assignment, and students usually have very limited or no time at all to work on the assignment in class where the help is – while the teacher is present. The flipped classroom is conducted in nearly the opposite fashion. In the flipped classroom, students are assigned independent or collaborative learning activities that replace a traditional lecture. More class time is dedicated to discussion and application of the learning, and less class time is spent on lecture or presentation of content. As educators, it’s common to teach the traditional way we were taught – lecture followed by a homework assignment. It can be challenging to step outside of our comfort zone and redirect our teaching in this new way. Student engagement and motivation is a difficulty that college professors face as a result of using class time to deliver passive lecture content to students who are thirsty for something different. This is especially true if students were required to prepare for class by reading or watching a video lecture. They will not be motivated to read as required if the professor lectures on the content anyway. In fact, its almost punishing to a student who completes the assigned readings just to come to class and have it read out loud by the professor. The behavior (to prepare for class) becomes punishing (sitting through lectures of the same content). Therefore, it only makes sense that a face-to-face class that requires students prepare by reading/watching videos use the concept of the flipped classroom.
Completely online classes, if they are asynchronous, already adopt the flipped classroom concept. Students watch recorded lectures, listen to podcasts, and read. They then apply what they have learned through projects, discussions, and written assignments. If they are synchronous, the concept of the flipped classroom becomes even more student-serving. If students are required to read/view content prior to the scheduled online, synchronous class session, the class session can be best utilized to engage in discussions with and answer questions of the learners rather than spending the majority of the time lecturing (usually a one-way communication) to the learners only to have the learners leave the online session with unanswered questions and confusion about the assignments in which they are required to apply the concepts on the content.
The flipped classroom model absolutely has the ability to positively impact students. With the right amount of professional development mixed in with the right amount of teachers and professors willing to step out of their comfort zones and allow students to take more control of their learning, this new approach to homework can enhance student learning.
There are some definite advantages to the flipped classroom. Flipped classrooms help students who are absent from class stay current. These students can access the recorded lessons from home, or anywhere outside of the classroom. Students can learn at their own pace. If they don’t understand the information the first time they listen, they can review the information as many times as they need to. Recorded lectures are a good resource for teacher assistants or student support staff who may not know the curriculum or may not know what to focus on. They are also a good resource for parents, allowing them to become familiar with their child’s teacher and the content. The content students access and study outside of the classroom can include online quizzes to check for comprehension. If students are struggling with a particular item, this becomes the topic of discussion for the in-class application. Video lectures are short – typically under ten minutes – keeping students engaged and allowing them more time to spend with their families (Pappas, 2013).
While the flipped model will work for some, it will not work for others. It will work better in some classes, and be less effective in others. Some disadvantages to the flipped classroom include teachers who have little to no experience in making videos. When teachers are experienced in making videos, there is no guarantee students will watch the online lecture at home and come to class prepared. A flipped classroom’s success is dependent on student participation. A flipped classroom’s success is also dependent upon technology, and some schools and/or students do not have the technology needed for a flipped classroom to be successful, especially those from low-income school districts. Finally, some parents may not like the idea of a flipped classroom.
To meet these challenges, workshops can be offered for teachers to gain experience in creating recorded videos, students can be encouraged to work in teams to lend support to those students who did not watch the videos, donations can be solicited to help bridge the technology gap (by providing students/schools with the necessary hardware/software, and teachers will need to be prepared (through workshops and support by school administration) to meet some resistance.
The flipped classroom model, or any other technology-driven teaching method, will forever be embraced by early adopters, questioned and tested by experienced practitioners, and flat out dismissed by other pundits and traditionalists (Pros and Cons of The Flipped Classroom, n.d.). Not everyone likes change, including students and parents. It’s important to be excited and positive about flipping your classroom to get your students and their parents on board (Pappas, 2013). Involving the students in planning and preparing for the flip day and offering an open discussion on how the students feel about the flip and what your expectations are can help with the transition (Pappas, 2013). It’s also important to continue communicating with students every day after the flip to ensure its continued success (Pappas, 2013).
The idea of flipping means students will read or watch video presentations on their own time, rather than doing homework and applied learning, on their own time outside of class. The flipped classroom concept provides a framework needed in order to implement best practices in making use of emerging technologies in education (Pacansky-Brock, 2013).
Pappas, C. (2013, September 18).The flipped classroom guide for teachers. Retrieved from http://elearningindustry.com/the-flipped-classroom-guide-for-teachers