Monday, 18 February 2013

Will flipped learning replace traditional lesson techniques?

One of the hottest topics in education at the moment has prompted educationalists throughout the UK to consider the application advantages of reversing the traditional lesson structure. Commonly termed ‘flipped learning’, it has quickly become a trending theme at networking events, conferences and throughout social journalism circles.

The Flipped Classroom

In this article we offer guidance and support to teachers who want to implement flipped learning into their classroom.

The flipped classroom essentially flips/reverses the share of responsibility in the learning process away from the teacher and encourages students to take more of a lead in their studies. Within traditional lesson structures the teacher will often begin by introducing the topic or unit in focus, and supporting the student through the learning process by sharing knowledge and setting tasks to test or reinforce their understanding. In this way, the teacher acts as a lecturer, broadcasting information to students with the expectation that they will absorb the core material and recall it when requested.

Flipped learning offers an altogether different approach, whereby educators assign students a lesson preparation task, such as a video cast or podcast, which introduces the topic/unit that will be covered in the following lesson. Thus learners study in their own time and at their own pace, reviewing the tutorial or lesson guide and making their initial interpretations of the lesson content. Once the lesson begins, students are at an accelerated point of learning, which means teachers can begin by assigning a problem-solving task or Q&A to judge an individual’s level of understanding. This also means that learners are engaged and focused completing the task, giving the teacher an opportunity to provide greater levels of face-to-face support.

Flipped learning has gathered increasing support from educationalists, many of whom have criticised traditional, didactic teaching styles. For proponents of reversing the learning responsibility, traditional lectured lessons assume that learners will retain and recall information that is presented to them. Although this has been effective, it is only a basic level of learning (according to Bloom’s Taxonomy of higher learning). To support deeper understanding, an individual must be tasked with analysing and evaluating a concept, an aspect central to the flipped learning model.

Innovating teaching and learning is not a new initiative. Throughout history, teachers have consistently looked at ways of improving student attainment such as through supported experiments or action learning. But more recently a significant social and economic change has supported the success of more radical practices. Technology and its widening role in education have meant that most students now have access to an internet-enabled device both in school and at home. In turn, this has enhanced young people’s access to educational content and opened channels of communication to share and collaborate.

Implementing the flipped classroom

While the flipped classroom offers teachers a way of accelerating students’ learning, integrating a new teaching practice can be a challenging prospect and one that requires some planning.

Making life easy: getting the right resource

Teaching is an understated art – balancing the need to mark papers, attend meetings, calculate grades, respond to emails, and, if there’s time,  develop and deliver outstanding lesson plans – a big enough ask even without the idea of implementing a new teaching practice. Flipped learning, however, can help save time but only if a resource works for your teaching style.

Conducting a simple search on Google, such as ‘GCSE e-learning’, will give you an insight into the wide variety of resources available to schools and colleges, from podcasts, screencasts and slideshows to HD videos and games-based applications.  However, when considering which resource to subscribe to, proponents of the flipped model of teaching claim that these must be accessible, visual, accurate and comprehensive if you are to engage students in the process.

For many teachers, podcasts have been frequently used but with the rise in mobile devices and enhancement in 3G/4G connectivity, tutorials and video-based lessons have claimed seniority. LearnersCloud GCSE revision and tutor-led videos are an example of a video-based, e-learning resource that combines real UK GCSE teachers with animated scene scenarios in a way that entertains the student, while offering content specific to their exam board spec.

In addition to the accuracy of content and the level of engagement, most application-based resources also offer teachers reporting functions, whereby they can view which students have watched the assigned video and those that have completed the task and offer a level or grade based on their results. This will not only save a teacher time but also provide an opportunity to identify the level at which each student is performing and participating.

Ensuring you and your students have access to a suitable resource is essential to the success of a flipped classroom approach. When implemented well, it can enhance teaching and learning in a variety of ways and help students become more effective, independent learners.

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Read similar article on flipped learning: 'Can flipped classrooms improve student performance?'