The flipped classroom: the advantages of going digital
The traditional classroom has historically put the teacher on a pedestal. However, advancements in technology are enabling us to challenge this teacher-centered approach to education and put more of an emphasis on the students. These advancements not only permit us to educate more effectively, but to disrupt the paradigms of old pedagogy with digital technology. They allow us to think outside of the box and institute new teaching methods into the classroom. One such method that is gaining in popularity is the flipped classroom.
Source: Desert News
In its most basic form, the flipped classroom is simply the inversion of the learning process. Staples of education that once took place within the classroom are moved online and class time is used for discussion and in-class exercises. And while there is no single model for the flipped classroom, there is one that has come to define what people think of when they think of the flipped classroom.
The Nuts and Bolts of the Flipped Classroom
Video lectures have become the hallmark of the flipped classroom. This approach calls for educators to either record their own video lectures or to draw from a plethora of lectures available on the internet. To some, this approach may seem to be merely the digital version of required reading, but studies have shown that students provided with video lectures are more likely to watch them, as opposed to required reading which they often skip.
More so, with increasing functionality of mobile devices, students have more convenient ways to access these lectures. The days of having to lug a textbook on a crowded train are over! Thanks to digital technology, students can simply whip out their smartphones, start watching classroom lectures, pause when necessary and finishing whenever they have free time.
However, the flipped classroom is not limited to video lectures. Podcasts, for example, can be used to replace textbooks or compensate for their shortcomings. Students can also create podcasts of their own to assist in peer-to-peer learning.
The flipped classroom represents an inversion of the pedagogical model, as well as an expansion of the curriculum associated with it.
A Student-Centered Approach to Learning
By creating or instituting digital lectures which students can watch on their own time, educators are able to free up class time for more constructive work. The flipped classroom model encourages classroom collaboration and more group work and discussions, which enhances the classroom experience for teachers and students. In the traditional classroom, students are forced to take notes while the teacher dictates. This can be counter-productive and lead to problems with retention and an understanding of the class’ key concepts.
In the flipped classroom, students can pause video lectures if they need a break or rewind if they miss something. This approach gives them more control over how the information is digested. This matters, because during the next day of class, the focus has shifted from what the teacher has to say in a lecture to what the students have to say in a discussion. A student-centered approach to learning is one of the pillars of the flipped classroom.
The term active learning was coined by scholar R.W. Remans to describe students who are participants in the learning process. The flipped classroom, with its emphasis on group discussions and in-class activities, encourages active learning. Educators can institute techniques such as discussion-based activities and team-based learning. Quizzes can be accessed online and reviewed by educators before class in order to gauge student understanding. Class time can be used to institute more personalized learning strategies. The flipped classroom approach moves away from the authoritarian dichotomy between teacher and student, allowing for a more formative assessment of student understanding.
While the benefits of formative assessment have been explored in various academic studies, one of the biggest barriers to its implementation has been the time-consuming nature of the technique. With lectures left for students to watch on their own time in the flipped classroom, educators can use more class time to focus on the individual needs of students.
Changing Your Classroom, Changing Your Role
In the flipped classroom, teachers are no longer the main focus. But rather than make teachers obsolete, the flipped classroom enables them to teach more effectively.
With this freedom, however, comes a new set of demands. Educators wishing to flip their classrooms must take more care in the way lectures are prepared. They must integrate the in-class elements of the flip intuitively with the out-of-class elements and take time to either carefully select or create video lectures.
A Growing Trend: Is the Flipped Classroom For You?
As the infographic above demonstrates, from 2012 to 2014, the percentage of educators flipping at least one lesson went from 48% to 78%, with 96% of educators saying they would recommend the flipped classroom model. However, while the growing adoption seems to indicate that educators benefit from the flipped classroom, more in-depth research on the flipped classroom should be done.
This doesn’t mean that educators should back away from the flipped classroom. After all, educators are individuals, too. No two teachers are the same, so why should their approaches to teaching be so similar? The flipped classroom, with its many different variations, allows teachers to create a classroom that works for them and their students.
For example, some teachers choose to flip entire courses, and others just a lesson or two. The flipped classroom model offers flexibility for teachers, and gives students more control over the learning process. Even if teachers don’t embrace every aspect of the flipped classroom, they’ll find something that is useful to them. Ultimately, when class time frees up, teachers have more room to be creative.
Since schools are moving away from an emphasis on the common core, educators can use the flipped classroom model to engage students with the latest technology in more creative ways. This is what the flipped classroom is all about—to use technology to break from tradition and provide personalized learning experiences for students.
For example, before the flipped classroom, teachers would lecture about an important topic, let’s say The Great Depression, and ask students to respond to the lecture in a homework assignment. The flipped classroom reverses this, so that teachers can assign The Great Depression lecture for homework and then have students respond in a class discussion. This reversal—or flip—improves student engagement and makes the classroom a more collaborative environment.
Designing the Flipped Classroom
So now that teachers understand what a flipped classroom is and some of its benefits, how can they go about designing one? Let’s start with video lectures.
Ordinarily, teachers would post video lectures to sites like Vimeo and YouTube. To make this happen, teachers would have to create an account and then have their students subscribe to that account. From there, they would either upload their own video lectures to their channel, or they can upload curated content from the Internet. This is one approach, but it’s an incredibly complicated process. Not only would this slow teachers down, students would most likely be confused.
Instead, teachers can use LiveTiles Mosaic to take technology integration a step further. Mosaic is a no-code UI design solution that can be used to create intuitive digital classrooms. Offered free to any K-12 class with an Office 365 education tenant, Mosaic significantly improves the learning process. With Mosaic, teachers can use the drag and drop function to embed video lectures into the digital classroom, which students can access at anytime from their mobile devices.
Source: LiveTiles Mosaic
Video lectures are beneficial, but Mosaic is capable of so much more. Within minutes, teachers can use it to design a flipped classroom that is specific to their students’ needs. As the screen shot below illustrates, Mosaic provides a customizable space where educators are able to integrate the functionality of Office 365 apps like Word, OneNote and Sway, as well as cloud-based services like OneDrive, Yammer and SharePoint. Using Mosaic, teachers can post assignments and grades and embed video lectures and social media services. This online integration further extends the boundaries of the flipped classroom by allowing discourse to flow outside of the classroom as well as within it.
Source: LiveTiles Mosaic
Because Mosaic must be linked to an Office 365 account, only those with associated emails can access it. Providing students with their own email addresses solely for educational purposes gives them an increased sense of autonomy, ensures that digital classrooms stay secure and enables teachers to better monitor the activities of their students.
Balance and Synergy
Technology is slowly but surely infiltrating the field of education. However, the flipped classroom is still no substitute for what teachers can do. Teachers are essential, and without their hard work and dedication, we wouldn’t have an educated society.
In many ways, the flipped classroom honors teachers in ways that the traditional classroom never could. Thanks to the flipped classroom, teachers are more successful as they guide their students to use digital solutions in efficient, meaningful and creative ways.
Ultimately, the end goal of the flipped classroom is to achieve balance and synergy in the classroom. In this regard, the digital classroom doesn’t replace the human element of the learning process, it reinforces it.