The truth about flipped learning

Resulting misconception: Flipped learning is a distinct pedagogy or methodology.

The flipped classroom is an ideology, not a methodology. We do not think of it as a “method” (a step-by-step prescribed process), but one of many techniques in the arsenal. Flipped classroom teachers vary in grade levels and subject matter. So, a chemistry teacher in a suburban city in Indiana and a chemistry teacher in a small rural town in Colorado might both be flipped teachers, but their techniques could be on opposite ends of a teaching spectrum because their students’ needs are different. A student who excels in a flipped class might have a self-directed schedule with little intervention or direction from the teacher, while a student who struggles will get more direction and one-on-one instruction. We have seen both types of students succeed in the same class with a different approach that meets their personal learning styles.

Conclusion: Don’t be fooled by oversimplifications

The generic term “flipped classroom” might be a bit misleading, and there could be some baggage associated with it, but that is no reason to write it off as a useless educational model. It is being utilized to help meet the individual learning needs of students. Before embracing or rejecting this technique, or any other educational tool, consider carefully how practitioners are actually using it. Do not be fooled or confused by the media hype, oversimplifications, or misinformation.

Ultimately, flipped learning is not about flipping the “when and where” instruction is delivered, although that is part of it. It’s about flipping the attention away from the teacher and toward the learner; it is about eliminating large-group direct instruction and meeting the individual learning needs of each student. Flipping a class is about reevaluating what is done in class and leveraging educational tools to enhance the learning experience.

Aaron Sams is a chemistry/AP chemistry teacher in Woodland Park, Colo. Brian Bennett teaches biology and chemistry in Evansville, Ind.

Read more about the flipped classroom and flipped learning in Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams’ new book Flip Your Class: Reach every student every day in every class. Order your copy now through the Flipped Learning Network.

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