The Flipped Classroom: a useless inversion or the future of education?

“Good morning dear students! Today we are going to have a lecture after which you will have to do your homework!” – This a common phrase we all used to hear at school from our teachers. But what if we simply change the order of these processes: homework at class and lecture at home? Then it will be a “flipped classroom”, a relatively new approach to teaching and learning. Although it may sound strange and daunting to many teachers, this approach has been widely and successfully used by many American teachers. Most of them are determined that this is the future of our education and it is the only way we can solve the problems at schools. This post will give an overview of the principles of a flipped classroom; provide some advantages as well as disadvantages of this approach both for students and teachers.

Let’s first define what a flipped classroom is. A flipped classroom is a teaching model when a traditional classroom where a lecture is given at class and homework at home is inverted. Thus, in a flipped classroom, students watch series of video lectures at home, digest the information and come to class for practice, which can be understood as their “in-class exercises” (EDUCAUSE, p. 1). The class time is used entirely for discussions and collaboration in small groups. These video lectures can be recorded by the teacher or found on YouTube and other educational sites, such a Khan Academy (check out this video about the principles of the Khan Academy).  In addition to the lectures, teachers can create online quizzes to monitor whether students watch the lectures or not.

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There are a great number of benefits from using a flipped classroom model instead of traditional one. The first benefit is a real-time feedback. To be exact, students do not have to struggle with their homework alone, but they work under the supervision of the teacher and can get a quick feedback on their achievements. Second, a flipped classroom model provides opportunities for students for more practice and collaboration with their peers at class. Thus, both teachers and students can make the best of their time during the lesson: no boring lectures, more engagement, and more discussions. The third benefit is an individualized approach to every type of a learner. While in a traditional classroom all students have to study at the same pace, not taking into account whether they are fast or slow learners, in a flipped classroom, students can choose their own pace of learning. On one hand, fast learners can easily get through the video without getting bored. On the other hand, slow learners are able to watch videos as many times as they need without rush and frustration. Student can thus deeply understand the material. During the lesson, teachers can provide one-on-one help to every student while others are involved in the process of debates, discussions and problem solving. As a result, no one student is believed to be left behind.

Even though the approach of a flipped classroom seems to be very promising and groundbreaking, a formidable number of teachers and educators are not so positive about this approach and find lots of obstacles on the way of its implementation. The first disadvantage is connected to the lack of students’ self-motivation to watch lectures at home. Most of the critics agree that since the order of the lesson is simply reversed, it does not make the lecture more entertaining for students. Thus, most of them can just skip watching these videos. Second, the model of a flipped classroom requires teachers to be adept at recording and modifying videos, which is quite challenging and can put more burdens on teachers. Third, a flipped classroom model can create a digital disparity since not all the students can have an access to computers and internet.

Nonetheless, both advantages and disadvantages can be either assumptions or beliefs. The actual results can speak louder than words. Fortunately, teachers and students who have already experienced this model of classroom proved that it really works! The Clintondale High School’s endeavor to improve their approach to teaching represents one of the most amazing “proofs” of its effectiveness.  The principle of that school realized that the education model of their school was not working well since most students were constantly failing exams and tests. The majority of students at that school were mainly from disadvantaged families and there were lots of discipline issues caused by them. The principle of the Clintongdale High School decided to take risks and “flip” the whole model of education at his school. The results were unbelievable!

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Retrieved from: http://www.knewton.com/flipped-classroom/

Most importantly, students at this school were excited and motivated to study, learn new things and dream about their bright future! (check out this video).

And this is not the only successful story of applying a flipped classroom in reality. There are a great number of teachers who practice this model of conductiong their lessons. (check out this video and this blog for more information)

While writing this post, I found a good and thought-provoking quote written by Albert Einstein stating the following claim – “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. I think that this quote can be applied to our education system nowadays. We usually make not sufficient but only superficial changes. Probably, we should experiment and change the system of our lessons completely without adding just minor innovations. Personally, I am absolutely convinced that the model of a flipped classroom can be very effective in our schools. There might not be a full transformation of the traditional lesson at first attempt. Moreover, there definitely will be some challenges and resistance. Therefore, it would be a good solution to incorporate this type of learning just partly, not for the whole course of the year but for a particular number of lessons.

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What do you think about this model of classroom? Is it more appropriate for schools or can be applied for universities as well? Will it be successful in Kazakhstani context?

References:

Berrett, D. (Feb. 19, 2012). How ‘flipping’ the classroom can improve the traditional lecture. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from: http://chronicle.com/article/How-Flipping-the-Classroom/130857/

EDUCAUSE. 7 things you should know about a flipped classroom. (Feb., 2012). Retrieved from: https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7081.pdf?utm_content=buffer9d7ef&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Freeman, H. C. and Schiller, N.A. (2013). Case Studies and the Flipped Classroom. Journal of College Science Teaching, 42 (5).

Fitzpatrick, M. (June 24, 2012). Classroom lectures go digital. The New York Times. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/25/us/25iht-educside25.html

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3 thoughts on “The Flipped Classroom: a useless inversion or the future of education?

  1. This is a nice adaptation of your class presentation. I am a big fan of the motivation behind flipped classrooms: students need class-time to develop and practice skills. The biggest issues I’ve seen with putting this strategy into practice is 1) the limit of time and tech-know-how on the part of the teacher and 2) the tendency to still assign homework to students. The first issue remains a huge obstacle for any teacher wanting to even try to flip her classroom. Clearly, support and training are needed. The second problem is one of habit and culture. Flipping a classroom is far from simple when we must flip our tendencies and long-held beliefs about was school “looks like”.

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  2. Dear Lyudmila,

    Thank you for such an interesting blog. In my opinion, the idea of implementing flipped classrooms here in Kazakhstan seems to me attractive. However, first thing which come to my mind is how it will be realized and who will do this? Of course, changes drive the further development and innovation in society. However, I think a huge work should be done before implementing this kind of classes to achieve desired outcomes and enhancements in secondary education. I agree with you that may be, first of all, to apply the flipped classrooms in some class subjects. Even it can be wiser to launch a pilot project in some schools and see the results in academic achievements of students. I think it will be great transformation in schools; therefore we should analyze thoroughly and make decisions strategically before launching new projects and programs especially when we speak about young generation.

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  3. Thank you Lyudmila, for sharing this information with us. After reading you blog I wanted immediately implement this approach in my practice. Teachers apply different methods and create different tasks for students so it is difficult to “surprise” them nowadays. Thus, this method seems to be very effective.
    Sharing and discussing with classmates their own visions students get opportunity to understand new material more deeply. Students used to get information from the teacher and agree with his or her point of view. The “flipped classroom” approach helps develop students own point of view.
    I think that Kazakhstani schools are not ready to implement this approach. however, teachers can try some elements which will bring benefit for teachers themselves and to the students.

    Like

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