Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Can flipped classrooms improve student performance?

What if traditional techniques of classroom teaching and homework were swapped around?

For some years now, teachers have been looking at changing the way classrooms work and how they can integrate modern technology to let them spend more time guiding students from the side rather than lecturing to them from the stage.

Rather than using homework periods to consolidate teaching that happened in the classroom, flipped learning means that students are responsible for absorbing information at home and consolidating it in the classroom.

Salman Khan is one of the leaders in video teaching and a proponent of flipped classroom teaching. His online video school, the Khan Academy, has become globally recognised for its free online video content, watched by learners throughout the world.

But what effect has this had on traditional education systems?

In an interview with euronews, Salman Khan never expected that seven years after working as an analyst for an investment fund his online tutorials would be a global success.

The idea behind the Khan Academy sprung from a conversation Salman had with his niece while trying to help her with her homework. While they struggled using Skype, email and other online tools that were available, he was able to help her with her challenges and questions. Salman’s niece graduated and quickly advanced, helped by his tutoring.

Soon after, with his help already yielding great results for his niece, he was asked to tutor other members of his family. The sense of fulfilment for Salman was overwhelming and more than he had ever felt in his day job as an analyst.

In 2008, Salman funded a non-profit organisation, the Khan Academy, and a year later he quit his job to dedicate his time fully to a project that aimed to provide free education to anyone, anywhere.

Today, following investment from Google and the Gates Foundation, the Khan Academy offers more than 3000 videos, covering a range of subjects from maths and science to history and art. While each clip can be watched in English, the three most popular languages are currently Spanish, Portuguese and Bengali.

The academy’s goal is to rethink traditional education, rather than offer spoon-fed material throughout a course. Learners should be able to study at their own pace, at a time and in a place that suits them.

Flipped teaching is a model that lends itself to this view as students can be assigned a tutorial or series of clips to watch before a lesson. They will then be able to play and replay each clip, ensuring that they understand each topic and concept. Once in the lesson, they can then question elements that they didn’t understand or need further support with. In this way, learners are accelerated through the curriculum as well as being provided with more time to absorb information.

The Khan Academy has become a phenomenon that is helping support the rise in flipped classroom teaching across the USA and wider. In the UK, however, schools have up until now been resistant, mainly due to the relevancy of content and the level of engagement these slide-based tutorials offer.

This trend has started to change and, as schools begin to introduce curriculum-specific resources, teaching professionals throughout the UK are beginning to support the flipped model.

LearnersCloud tutor videos
Students at Homewood School
LearnersCloud shares the Khan Academy’s passion for broadening access, and while subscriptions are paid, these are at an affordable cost to ensure students and schools can access easy-to-follow, tutor-led content that covers the UK’s leading exam board specifications.

With the resources of the Khan Academy and LearnersCloud’s exam-tailored videos, the number of proponents for flipped teaching are increasing and we’re seeing examples of successful integration in more and more learning institutes throughout the world.

Virtual learning projects are encouraging teachers to redirect their teaching methods and orientate them towards the individual needs of the students.

Share your view or experience of flipped learning below:

More on flipped classroom teaching: 'Will flipped learning replace traditional lesson techniques?'