What is a flipped classroom?

Posted by Greten on 24 Feb 2020 under Terms

The flipped classroom is a learning and teaching strategy in which the absorption of the information happens outside the classroom, while the more active learning processes such as reflection, synthesis, application, and discussion occur in the classroom or the presence of an instructor. It is also known as flipped learning, and the process of implementing it to a class can be described as "flipping the classroom."

It has been described as a pedagogical model or pedagogical approach, even though it can also be useful in adult learning and employee training. The reason for calling it flipped classroom is that it inverts the process of traditional lecture method.

On the left is a vector image of a classroom with an ongoing class. The words above are: Receive information (Lecture) | Discussion, Clarifications. On the right is a student writing something on a paper on the table with lamp and pens on his desk. The words above are: Exercises (Homework).

In a traditional lecture, the instructors talk, write on the board, show visual aids, and demonstrate a process or a method, while the learners absorb the information they are transmitting. Then, active learning activities follow the lecture, such as exercises that the learners are supposed to do at home, experiments that they must do in the laboratory or open field, and discussion among the students. Sometimes, the classroom is also used for certain active learning activities like group discussion and written exercises. Still, the majority of the learners' time in the classroom is spent on being passive recipients of the information.

On the left is a student watching something on a computer. The words above are: Receive information (Homework). On the right is a vector image of a classroom with an ongoing class. The words above are: Discussion, Clarifications | Classroom Exercises.

The flipped classroom model reverses this process. The absorption of information happens in the absence of the instructor, while the classroom time is for discussions, exercises, and clarifications.

How is the information received in a flipped classroom?

The lecture part of flipped the classroom is the absorption of information: watching, listening, and reading, or a combination of any of these, from recorded media, done in the absence of an instructor. The most popular form of transmission of information in a flipped classroom is online video. The main idea here is that the video replaces the instructor as the means of lesson delivery. However, video is not the only method.

When you say, "For your assignment, read pages 44 to 49 of your textbook." and jumped immediately into discussion or provide time only for answering questions without giving a lecture, then that's already a flipped classroom.

Thus, you may assign the following resources to your learners:

  • Textbook: read specific pages, chapters, or lessons as an assignment.
  • Video: watch a video about the lesson
  • Elearning: access a video or interactive learning module through your company or institution's learning management system (LMS).
  • Slideshow: use free resources such as Slideshare, Prezi, or Google Slides to make your slide presentations accessible anytime to learners.
  • Print copy: handouts that you can distribute to your students so they can study at home

The source of information may be something that you or instructors within the same institution made, or you may examine an existing content and then refer your learners to it if it suits your instruction. You may even video record yourself conducting lectures. As long as you, the instructor, are not physically present when the learners absorb the information, then the "lecture" half of the flipped classroom is accomplished.

How the knowledge is reinforced in a flipped classroom?

Now, this is the more exciting part of the flipped classroom. By moving the "lecture" to the homework, you now have more time to do the following:

  • Clarifications: you may provide a summary of what the learners learned at home and then open the time for questions and clarifications.
  • Discussion: the learners might have different ways of understanding the lesson. Facilitate the exchange of ideas so the learners can learn from one another's' perspectives.
  • Exercises: this is what is usually assigned to homework in a traditional lecture. Have the learners work on it in the classroom, and when they stumbled or failed to understand a part of the lesson, they can ask you for guidance.

Advantages of a flipped classroom

The flipped classroom model has several advantages over a traditional lecture. Some of them are:

  • If a learner failed to hear or understand something, they can go back to that part and see if they can get it the second time. If they really cannot understand it despite trying, then they can take note of it so they can ask you during classroom time. In the traditional classroom, the equivalent of this is asking you to repeat what you just said, which can be tiring if it happened several times, and can be frustrating to learners who already understand that part of the lesson.
  • After a lecture, when the learners do the homework on their own, they may not understand the lesson and thus not do the homework. In a flipped classroom, after the learners read, listen, or watch a lesson, either they fully understand it, and if not, they can use the discussion time or ask the instructor for clarifications.
  • The learners will find it easier to budget their time because they can foresee how long the homework will take and allow them to allocate time to other activities inside and outside the school.

Disadvantages of a flipped classroom

Instructors and learning institutions may be reluctant to implement the flipped classroom approach because it also has notable disadvantages to the traditional classroom. In some cases, give the resources of the institution, a traditional classroom might work better.

  • Some learners have no access to the internet and other necessary technology. You can remedy this by making arrangements with the computer laboratories so they can access the online content after their class hours. You can also design your flipped classroom lesson to use more of the non-electronic sources like textbooks and printed handouts.
  • The home environment of the learner might not be conducive to the absorption of knowledge—for example, too much noise in the surrounding. Encourage the learners to use the library or study halls to read, listen, or watch their homework.

The flipped classroom approach reverses the traditional lecture method by moving the exercises from homework to the classroom and moving the absorption of information from classroom to homework. The flipped classroom has several advantages over the traditional lecture but also has some notable disadvantages.

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Last updated on 24 Feb 2020.

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