The Flipped Classroom


This is an excellent article from eSchool News on the concept of flipping classroom learning — the idea is that passive lecture activity becomes homework while group work, discussions, and practice are done in the class with a teacher present to support/facilitate students.  Some excerpts:

“The main idea behind the ‘flipped’ classroom is for teachers to be available when students need them most. If I lecture for 30 minutes … in my chemistry classes, that would leave me about 20 minutes to assign homework and let students start on it,” he explained.

At that point, he said, students were left to their own devices to finish their homework and come back the next day for something new. What he found was that when students left his class, many either chose not to do the homework or gave up as soon as they ran into something that didn’t make sense.

“Then we would spend the next day going over questions instead of moving on. So what I was doing was using up valuable class time to lecture and then leaving them to figure things out on their own. That seemed like a very inefficient use of class time to me.”

Spencer began to create screencasts of his lectures using Camtasia the day before. Those screencasts then became the homework—and class time was for doing “homework,” or answering questions and doing labs/demos.

“I have now reached the point where, because of the screencasts, my students are all able to work through the curriculum at their own pace,” he explained. “Since I’m not lecturing in class, and students can access the information whenever they need, I can now spend that ‘extra’ time helping students one-on-one.”

The power behind the vodcasts, he said, is that students only watch when they need the information or are inspired to learn more. Class time is then dedicated to practicing and using their preferred learning style. This may be small groups, hands-on, problem sessions, or conversations with Yoos.

“One thing that I have learned is that students really resent ‘busy work’ now. If an assignment doesn’t directly lead to them understanding one of our unit objectives, it becomes obvious very quickly,” he said.

The Teacher Vodcasting Network is a site dedicated to this process.  This video does a good job of explaining:

This approach is gaining popularity in higher ed as well.  The National Center for Academic Transformation (NCAT) lists among the principles of its highly successful course redesign project:

  • the replacement of passive lectures with active online learning materials
  • the use of auto-graded, online assessments with immediate feedback
  • Greater student-to-student interaction
  • the ability to provide students with individualized support



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