Flipping for Successful Learning: The Big Picture
Flipped Learning – Turning Learning Inside Out
As we progress rapidly into the middle of the second decade of the 21st century, questions continue to be raised about how education addresses the ever increasing demands for change, integrating emerging technologies, and maximising the possibilities for every student.
Teachers are searching for ways to focus on engaging students in authentic, complex and powerful problem solving experiences for learning, unpacking content and demonstrating understanding and knowledge. The day is a finite resource, and class times are small segments of that day, so there are limitations on how much more can be accomplished in that specified time.
Traditional classroom learning
Educators recognise changes in the learning expectations of current students from previous generations – the millennial student who has grown up using rapidly evolving technologies and has instant information access, has less tolerance for traditional lecture style teaching. The “digital native” student is one whose access to technologies has directed their acquisition and processing of information, thinking and learning, which has become fundamentally different from previous generations. The big question then focuses on how class time may be utilised for maximum student-teacher interaction. Flipped learning can be considered broadly as an approach to teaching that transforms the learning environment into a dynamic, interactive space where students have opportunities to engage in unpacking content, apply concepts and maximise the resources available within the school. These resources include experts in subject areas (teachers), peers, traditional texts and technologies.
In 2012, forty teachers were surveyed on how much time they spent reviewing and repeating classroom information to students during one 60 minute class period. The results indicated that on average, a staggering 39 minutes of the 60 minutes was spent introducing, reviewing and repeating content. The results also indicated that opening and closing activities by teachers were consuming an additional 5-8 minutes of classroom time. In total, approximately 44-47 minutes of the total 60 minutes of class time was spent presenting and reviewing information with only (on average) 13-16 minutes interacting with students unpacking content. Further evaluation revealed that the minimal amount of classroom practice time equated to 65-80 minutes per week, and 43-55 hours per year within a 40-week school year. Using this data, potentially, a student taking four years of a core subject might receive between 172-220 hours a year out of a possible 800 hours available for processing and unpacking content for understanding.
Active learning involves students being engaged in learning tasks that enable inquiry, creative response and thoughtful participation. Teachers are finding ways to restructure class activities so there is greater focus on the learning process and less on direct teaching. As educators, we also realise that no longer are we preparing students for factories, but rather, for a more rigorous, flexible, technology-dependent, and collaborative global economy.
K-12 students need teachers’ expertise and assistance more than ever to provide clarity and connectedness with learning and real world contextualisation. With increased complexity of problems, students need to draw upon the expertise of outside experienced experts and their own peers in addition to the classroom teacher. They also need the necessary resources and a positive, purposeful, learning environment. Traditionally, delivery of content has been built around the provision of content information in class and students do most of the processing at home for homework. In the Flipped Learning Model, classroom time is structured around activities that develop a deeper and more thorough understanding of content. Whilst there is no one specific model for flipping the classroom, the core model is to create videos and interactive lessons to introduce content and information. Students review this for homework and use class time for working through problems, engaging in advanced concepts and collaborative learning. All aspects of instruction are re-shaped to maximise learning time in class.
Passive to active learning
Flipped Learning shifts the classroom from passive to active learning, focusing on higher order thinking skills such as evaluating, analysing, and creating to engage students in learning. The approach relies on understanding the difference between information and knowledge acquisition, providing students with active learning possibilities. Students are given opportunities to take greater responsibility for their own learning. Class time focuses more on exploration, finding meaning and application of knowledge. Teaching is focused more on providing significant learning opportunities, providing feedback through a variety of pedagogical strategies and ensuring understanding. Schools engaging the Flipped Learning approach focus on the development of a flexible environment, learner-centred classrooms, intentional pedagogy, and professional support for teachers. Strategies for flipping the classroom, creating easily implemented flipped lesson plans, and the skills required for creating this content, are fundamental to teacher adoption of this approach.
Flipped Learning allows teachers to work with students directly in class so that they can review, clarify and unpack content. It also gives at-risk students a chance to work with peers, engage in the content, ask questions, and take advantage of technological resources in a safe, caring environment. If students do not have access to the Internet, teachers can make the presentation available at the beginning of each class, or schools can make their resources readily available outside of regular classroom time through the library.