What is flipped learning?

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Flipped learning turns the established teaching model upside down. It was designed by educators critical of the traditional 'lecture and homework' model, where students receive their 'first exposure' to a topic in the classroom then 'process' the new information by way of homework. With flipped learning, students receive first exposure at home prior to the lesson, then process the new material in class. An example might be a teacher recording a video lecture for students to watch prior to the lesson; the lesson then consists of an exercise, debate or quiz – often the sort of task that would have been set for homework.

Flipped learning was invented by educators who view the traditional lecture format incompatible with some students' styles of learning. As this infographic by Newton tells us, in the US, only 69% of students who start high school finish four years later; and an average of 1.3 million students drop out of high school every year. Facts like these have led educators to conclude that the traditional 'one-size-fits-all' method of lecturing students needs to be ditched in favour of an approach where students are more active and can set the pace of their own learning.

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As educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom stated, the flipped approach means students are doing the lower levels of cognitive work (gaining knowledge and comprehension) outside of class, and focusing on the higher forms of cognitive work (application, analysis, synthesis, and/or evaluation) in class, where they have the support of their peers and teacher. The approach is designed to allow students to take more responsibility for their learning. Video lectures are perhaps the most common form for first exposure to take, though podcasts, screencasts and textbook readings are also widely used. Teachers can address misunderstandings as they occur: something that's not possible when students perform homework.

‘Lets use video to reinvent education’

Salman Khan’s TED talk 'Let’s use video to reinvent education' proves a lively and comprehensive introduction to flipped learning, and has garnered almost 4 million views to date. Before entering the education industry, Khan was a hedge fund analyst who began using YouTube videos to tutor his cousins. The videos proved a hit, and Khan eventually set up the Khan Academy, a not-for-profit organisation which now offers over 2,000 educational videos. Khan favours flipped learning because students can 'pause and repeat without feeling like they’re wasting my time', and have the opportunity to take a step back and review something covered in a previous lesson. He also notes that when working on the set task during class, peers can interact and the teacher can monitor their progress and answer questions.

 

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When implemented properly, flipped learning can yield many benefits for students. It's also beneficial for teachers' workloads: because students receive verbal feedback during class, there's less of a need for extensive written feedback. In addition, it can be more accessible than traditional methods: students with impaired hearing or vision can review resources at their own pace, rewind videos and use screen magnifiers.

Of course, it takes plenty of work to implement. An effective flip requires careful preparation, and not all teachers are already equipped with the necessary skills to prepare video or audio resources. Additionally, some students may feel apprehensive about the loss of in-person teaching. Teachers attempting to flip their classroom should adopt the approach slowly and keep pupils in-the-loop about how they're going to change their teaching methods. Those without the skills to produce digital content and learning resources themselves may be able to find existing resources suitable for their class; for instance, a video produced by the Khan Academy or the Flipped Learning Network.

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Have you flipped your classroom? Leave a comment to join in the discussion or tweet us @fullfabric.

Here's a few resources which provide some more information about flipped learning:

Flipping the classroom by Vanderbilt University

100 videos and counting: lessons from a flipped classroom by Edutopia

5 great web tools for creating video lessons by Educational Technology and Mobile Learning

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Rob Parker

Rob Parker

Rob managed FULL FABRIC's digital communications between September 2015 and September 2017.

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