Editor’s Picks 2015, No. seven: Flipped learning is changing the face of special ed

By Dennis Pierce
December 23rd, 2015

Flipped learning and one-to-one are a powerful combo for some populations

Ed. note: This year the editors selected ten stories we believe either highlighted an important issue in 2015 and/or signaled the beginning of an escalating trend or issue for 2016 (look for No. 1 on Dec. 31). No longer a new concept, early flipped learning adoptees are now starting to transform the model to suit their needs and into something that can be useful for instructing a variety of student populations, including those students with special needs.

flipped-special-edAt E.L. Haynes High School in Washington, D.C., 44 percent of students are English language learners, have special needs, or both. Yet all of the students in this urban charter school’s first graduating class have been accepted into college, said Principal Caroline Hill—and she attributed this success to a personalized, self-paced approach made possible by technology.

E.L. Haynes has a one-to-one laptop program, and students also can bring their own devices to school. Using a flipped learning approach, teachers record their lessons and post them online, so students can watch the content over and over again until they understand—and class time is used to provide more personalized support.

If schools are to meet the learning needs of every student, including those with disabilities, then “we have to think differently about how we provide instruction,” Hill said.

Hill was speaking at a June 17 briefing on Capitol Hill that focused on the intersection of technology and special education. During the event, which was hosted by the National Coalition for Technology in Education and Training, Hill and other educators described how technology is empowering students with disabilities to achieve at high levels.

About 2.5 million children in the U.S. have some kind of learning disability, said Kim Hines, associate director for the National Center for Learning Disabilities. For these children, “technology has been a game changer,” she said, “and for some, it’s been life-changing. … We now know what kids are able to do, and not just what they are unable to do.”

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