The Flipped Classroom
Technology Is Standing Education On Its Head
Before arriving at a consulting career in instructional technology, I worked for eight years in education. I had earned a Master’s degree which landed me a whopping starting salary of $8,000 a year. Eight years later I was up to $15,000 a year. While the trending was moving in the right direction, I was still barely scraping by, even in the 70’s. I left education, without so much as a compass, to explore uncharted waters. You can do those kinds of things when you are in your twenties.
Over the years I have reflected upon what it was that made me leave a solid profession that I invested 6 years of higher education in. Yes, there was the lack of compensation in the early years but I have discovered that it was much more than that. I was frustrated. I had a wildly creative approach to the work I loved and yet I knew that the impact on individual children was miniscule. I had only 20 minutes a week of one on one time which each student. Educators are not in it for the money. On average, they choose teaching because they want to make a difference.
Today, more than 30 years later, I am once again excited about education. While my role may be different, nevertheless I am filled with the hope of making a difference. My new found optimism is due to a groundswell of social media and Internet technology that is flooding the classrooms, study halls, and media centers of today’s schools. And riding its wake is a generation of kids that are entering school already masters of their technology tools and environments. One trend that is promising to stand education on its head is the “flipped” classroom.
The concept of the “flipped” or “upside down classroom” is gaining momentum in the mainstream. Teachers and entire schools in both high performing and struggling school systems are experimenting with the concept. Articles have appeared in newspapers such as the New York Times and Washington Post. This essay provides a brief overview of this growing phenomenon along with resources for further exploration.
The concept of the flipped classroom is simple in theory. Instructional content is delivered after school hours using an online medium and homework is done in the classroom. The flipped classroom model honors the limited time that teachers and students have together by enabling it to be more interactive, collaborative, and productive. Here’s how it works.
The teacher’s lecture is delivered online through a recorded video or some other presentation method. Lectures can be accessed by students via PC, tablets, or mobile devices. Students view the presentation after normal class hours. Individual students can replay sections of the teacher’s presentation if they choose which helps to reinforce complex concepts and ensure that they do not miss important details. Optimally, students can learn at their own pace.
The following day, the students have an opportunity to apply what they have learned by working on problems or a set of tasks that require them to demonstrate their comprehension of the material in the teacher’s presentation. In the classroom, teachers have more time to help individual or small groups of student’s with challenging concepts. It is easier for teachers to understand which students comprehend the subject and which ones are struggling, enabling faster intervention and reducing the likelihood that individual students are falling behind the rest of the class. Students who have grasped concepts and are ready to move on can participate in expanded learning opportunities.
I was a quiet kid. One of those students that easily slipped through the cracks unnoticed. I struggled with math, yet I was too embarrassed to raise my hand in class to ask questions. Heck, I didn’t even know what questions to ask. Arriving at home after school with my incomplete understanding of the material I struggled with my homework. Consequently, I avoided taking math classes whenever I had a choice. That experience would haunt me the rest of my life. In the traditional educational model, many students working alone at home do not complete their homework if they become frustrated trying to solve a problem without help. And in today’s two income families, many parents have little or no time to assist their children with homework.
Enter, a different way to think about learning, the flipped classroom. As with any disruptive trend, there are critics. Can this model be used for a variety of subjects? What about children who do not have a computer or laptop at home? How will teachers know how to use the technology to put their lectures online and who will pay for it? And yet, those who are excited about their successes outweigh the doubters. When invited to be creative and to have a more rewarding teaching experience, teachers come up with all kinds of unique solutions. They are now successfully flipping a wide array of courses from calculus to gym class. Many schools have recognized that not all of their students have access to computers. In such cases they have made the school media labs available to students after school and during study periods. In addition, most libraries today have computers available for public use. Teachers have at their disposal a wide selection of free, user-friendly technology tools that enable them to create engaging presentations of core content.
Among the success stories are Clintondale School in Detroit, MI, Madeira School in McLean, VA, and Bullis School in Potomac, MD. These are only a small sampling of the hundreds of schools that are successfully implementing this new model of teaching. We encourage you to explore the links provided below. They are part of a wealth of information that is available to you once you start thinking differently about education.
We hope you will visit again and keep an eye out for upcoming case studies that show how iPedago Evolution is supplying enriched learning environments in academic settings.