Thursday, 25 April 2013

What’s all the fuss over flipped classrooms?

 What's all the fuss over flipped classrooms?
By now, many of you will be familiar with the concept of reversed responsibility learning or flipped learning. As an educator myself, the concept of assigning my students a video to watch, interpret and form questions on in lieu of my class was an enticing offer.

A classroom in which students:
  • have an awareness of the lesson topic,
  • have attempted to understand the content knowledge,
  • develop their own questions to bring back into the class,
  • and are ready to engage in active, cooperative learning from the outset.
Too good to be true?

Supporters of flipped classrooms wouldn’t think so and would point to the increasing numbers of success stories taking place throughout the world. You may have guessed I’m one of these proponents but I’ve tasked myself with reviewing the pros and cons, to offer you a more objective account than the endless number of those I hear from colleagues and read on EdTech blogs.


1. More one-to-one time with students
Flipped learning: More one-to-one time with students
The teacher is able to spend their class time working with the students who need extra help and mentoring
learners. This in turns offers the opportunity to create deeper and more effective student-teacher relationships.

2. Students learn at their own pace

The ability to pause, play, rewind and re-watch videos allows students to spend more time learning about concepts they find challenging. Meanwhile, students who have mastered a concept can make the most of their time by moving on to their next lesson tutorial or by attempting end-of-topic questions that consolidate their learning.

3. Encourages lead learners

In the traditional teacher-led classroom, students are constantly pushed and pulled along the syllabus, often regardless of whether they’ve understood key concepts. Flipped learning ensures students move at their own pace; they can clarify misconceptions with their teacher and move forward once they have demonstrated their understanding in classroom activities.

4. Levels the playing field

The BBC and other national news agencies have commented on the recent rise in home tutoring among more affluent families. Many argue that this extends the achievement gap between socio-economic classes. Yet while flipped classroom resources do need to be played on a PC/laptop, tablet or smartphone, after-school clubs, dedicated ICT rooms and library access are just some of the ways schools can facilitate after-school study. And with the use of high quality e-learning tutorial resources this is comparable to the provision of private tutor support.

5. Addresses absenteeism

Whether you’re recording your own lessons or using an online video resource, students can catch up on the content knowledge they’ve missed. This enables both teachers and students to stay on track over the course of each academic term.

6. Analyses performance

Using platforms such as LearnersCloud, teachers get access to diagnostic tools that can be used to quickly identify who’s completed an assignment, who’s struggling and recognise those students that are performing well.

7. Offers peer coaching

In any class some students will understand the lesson content quicker than others. In flipped classrooms the teacher can assign these students as peer tutors to help others accelerate their learning without taking up teaching time or becoming distracted and disruptive.

8. Involves parents

Creating or sourcing video lessons that are available 24/7 enables parents to learn the content prior to helping their child with homework or revision. In this way parents become a source of support, aware of the exact lesson content and can take a more involved role in their child’s education.


Reasons against flipped classrooms
1. Do children really need more screen time?

Adopting a flipped model encourages students to spend more time in front of a computer screen.

2. Digital divide

As I briefly explained, not all students have meaningful access to internet-enabled devices at home, which can place limitations on students who may already have external pressures impacting the amount of time they can devote to their education and study.

3. Glorified lecturing

Teaching by video is based on a didactic, lecture-based philosophy. Learning, however, is not simply a matter of passively sitting and absorbing information. Students need to find information and critically assess their resources. If all students are asked to consume recorded lectures, how will they ever become critical assessors of information?

While writing this I found myself limiting the number of pros to give a more even account. And for the arguments against I had to scathe education sites to get a broader understanding of the arguments against.

The flipped classroom model, for me at least, offers students and teachers a unique way of using technology in the classroom and places a greater importance on completing assignments independently.

Where do you stand? Pitch your arguments for and against below.