The flipped classroom

What is the Flipped Classroom?

In order to define the flipped classroom, let’s first talk about traditional teaching methods, where the teacher gives a student a task, for example, reading a chapter of a book. This would then be discussed the next day in class and then the student would be given an assignment based on the knowledge they had gained.
The flipped classroom simply changes the order of how things are done, putting the emphasis on student centred learning. For example, the student is given access to learning material, such as bite size video clips. In the next classroom/lecture session, the student would then be given tasks based on what they had learned by studying the videos. The tutor would spend the time facilitating and giving support when needed. The idea behind the flipped classroom is to encourage peer to peer learning and problem based learning, and the discussions that ensue between students during the lesson is thought to contribute to deeper learning.

Eric Mazur was thought to be one of the pioneers of the flipped classroom in the work he did at Harvard during the 1990s.  Professor Mazur felt that by using computer aided teaching artefacts he could concentrate on being more of a guide or coach as opposed to someone just standing in front of students talking at them.

Benefits of the flipped classroom:

By using video, or other media accessible via a computer (e.g CD or USB drive) the students have full control over the media.  They can watch key elements over and over, and can fast forward any areas they don’t feel the need to dwell on.
Using contact time to discuss and apply ideas and concepts gives teachers more opportunities to detect if any students are misunderstanding and can give coaching and guidance as needed.
Using classroom time to discuss ideas can encourage collaboration among students, which forms the basis of peer to peer learning and problem based learning.  The students with higher levels of understanding can teach those who are struggling and the tutor can be on hand to ensure that the right information is being imparted.

Disadvantages of the flipped classroom:

Although it sounds like it might be an easy option, flipping the classroom needs careful thought and good preparation.  Time must be devoted to the recording of any video materials and these need to be of good quality and need to get the message across to the students clearly and concisely.  This could mean the teacher having to learn these new skills, which again, would take time. Students also need to be fully aware of the model, how it works and what is expected of them, and what they can expect from their teacher.

If you would like to find out more about the flipped classroom, here are a couple of good resources to give you some insight:

Educause learning Initiative document, 7 things you should know about flipped classrooms.

You tube video: Professor Eric Mazur using electronic voting systems during lectures.

Pearson has recently bought out a system called ‘learning catalytics’ which helps anyone new to the notion of the flipped classroom to create suitable materials. There is a cost to using the software, but you can sign up for free for 30 days and give it a go.


Leave a Reply