The traditional sequence of teaching using lectures, discussion, projects, and testing was upended during the pandemic as teachers adapted to digital classrooms and students took on more responsibility for their learning.
Now that students are back in school, many teachers are finding that continuing to use a blend of digital and face-to-face classroom learning methods can be effective in boosting student engagement and fostering constructive discussions.
The flipped classroom is one pedagogy that has been especially fruitful by reversing the traditional lecture and homework components of a class. In many traditional classrooms, the majority of class time is spent in a lecture-and-listen format. The flipped classroom replaces this static model by engaging students in active, dynamic learning.
In a flipped classroom, teachers use digital technology instead of lectures to provide most of the learning “inputs” and spend their time fostering social participation and imparting wisdom. These inputs might be a video lecture or other mixed media content, reading, or listening to audio. Inputs can include music, paintings, maps, illustrations, podcasts, and video clips from television shows or movies. There is no limit to what might be included. The main point is that the live lecture is dispensed with.
In-class time is then dedicated to engaging with the learning in a variety of activities, such as discussions, debates, activities focused on projects or problems, or laboratory exercises.
Instructors in a flipped classroom model are able to focus class time answering student questions, guiding students, and implementing course concepts. Synchronous learning takes place with face-to-face support of students as they engage with the material.
There is no single template for a successful flipped classroom. Most teachers will adjust the amount of flipping that goes on based on the need of a particular class or course. While covering one topic, a teacher may decide it is more effective to deliver all content outside of class, reserving class time for group learning activities. In teaching a different concept, they might instead choose to integrate hands-on learning activities and content delivered via lecture in a given class period.
There are several advantages to a flipped classroom:
- A focus on imparting knowledge. More class time is spent actively engaging students in learning rather than spending valuable in-person time on content delivery that can just as easily be spent outside of class.
- More individualized learning. Students learn in different ways, and providing the inputs using a mix of content can be more effective for students. It also allows students to learn at their pace.
- Content appeals to digital-native students. Infusing multimedia into the learning students do at home and delivering it via smartphone or other device is how digital-native students are accustomed to consuming content and can succeed in reaching easily distracted students.
- Everyone is accountable. If students come to class unprepared, it becomes apparent not only to their teacher, but also to their peers, since much of what happens requires student input in games, activities, and discussions. Likewise, teachers will be called upon to react to students’ insights, as well as their difficulties, and can’t rely on notes and prepared lectures.
- It’s more rewarding for teachers. Instead of being a scheduler, motivator, and discipline provider, teachers can focus on what they do best: impart knowledge and help students grow.
While it may be tempting to simply record lectures and post them online, this often is not the most effective method of conveying content. Students are savvy consumers of video content and will expect high production values and variety.
There is a huge quantity of high-quality videos available to teachers for educational purposes free on the internet. And there are free sources that already have mapped digital content to lessons to help students see the relevance of a topic to their lives. How better to make dry topics like history or economics come to life by illustrating key concepts with clips from Friends or Gladiator.
The availability and scope of information available online also mean that students can do their own exploring if a topic interests them or if they need additional context. While this happens, soft skills, such as digital literacy and time management, also improve.
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