Some people may not find it that weird of an idea to “flip” the classroom in this day and age, when turning conventional notions and ideas on their heads is seen as “revolutionary” and is thought to help make certain topics more engaging. But what precisely is a flipped classroom, and to what extent is it a “revolutionary” approach to education?
This article will cover the idea of the flipped classroom, as well as its benefits and drawbacks, how it has worked in various settings up to this point, the considerations that should be made before transitioning to this method of teaching, and how it should be carried out. This should serve as a useful guide for instructors who are thinking about using this practice in their classrooms.
If the traditional classroom is defined by the teacher discussing the lessons and the students going over what they learned and doing homework related to the lesson afterwards, the flipped classroom, as the name suggests, flips things around. In this case, the students are asked to study the lessons on their own as they watch their teacher explain the lessons in a prerecorded video or another medium. The next day, the students will do the assignments, which the teacher will discuss afterwards. This either builds on or reorients the students on what they learned as they were doing their homework.
In essence, the flipped classroom reverses the roles of home and school in the greater learning environment, something which proponents say would improve the student’s learning experience while also creating what is considered a more suitable function for the home and school in the learning process. This shall be discussed further in the succeeding section.
The concept of the flipped classroom is oftentimes associated with flipped learning, with many thinking that both concepts are interchangeable. However, this is a misconception. Flipped classroom refers to the manner of teaching a class while flipped learning goes beyond that as it aims to move away from the group learning setup usually found in the classroom (traditional or flipped), towards an individual-focused learning setup, which provides for a more dynamic and interactive learning environment.
What this means is that a flipped classroom alone does not bring about a flipped learning experience. On the contrary, flipped learning requires a greater overhaul of teaching methodologies commonly used in schools, which would take quite long to accomplish compared to a transition towards a flipped classroom. At times, it is attributed to some form of asynchronous learning. However, the two types of learning are distinct, albeit with a few overlapping concepts and techniques.
One of the main flipped classroom benefits is that it helps create a better learning experience for students. And it is easy to see how this can be the case.
With assignments being done in school rather than at home in the flipped classroom setup, students can get help quickly from their teachers. This also eases the burden of the parents who usually bear the burden of answering complex homework questions that they may not be able to answer.
Another benefit is that students can study their lessons at their own pace and their own way and not be beholden to their teacher’s pace which they may not appreciate. This helps them better absorb the lessons in the process without the pressure of having to finish assigned school work at home which not only takes time away from family but also personal time normally spent at home. It can also leave students confused and stressed such that they would be driven to finish their assignments without understanding the lessons.
For teachers, the flipped classroom allows them to be flexible in the way they teach their students. In fact, it is not a requirement for them to flip their entire class. They can opt to flip even just a single lesson or instead create a blended learning experience that combines the elements of a traditional and flipped classroom. And with the real-time feedback they receive, they have more awareness early on as to how the students understand the lessons and can make the necessary adjustments for the students to have a better grasp of these lessons. (Panopto, 2020)
Despite the benefits, the flipped classroom has its critics who argue that it is not as effective as thought to be. This is primarily due to the challenges that affect its touted efficiencies in the real world. Foremost of the challenges of flipped classroom is the state of technology in different parts of the world. Technology plays a crucial role, especially in delivering lessons to students in the flipped classroom. In some areas, access to technology is not as reliable as in other places, which greatly hinders the adoption of the flipped classroom model across the globe.
Likewise, poverty is a primary factor as not all families can afford the technologies or even the internet access itself needed for the flipped classroom. For some, this can exacerbate the digital and social class divide with poorer students being left out compared to the more well-off students. (Trach, 2020)
Flipping the classroom is a huge undertaking, which should be approached carefully. Given the flipped classroom pros and cons that were discussed earlier, it is important to put them into consideration in deciding whether a flipped classroom should be pursued and in what areas they are applicable.
For teachers looking to adopt a flipped classroom, there are four key considerations to keep in mind:
For teachers who wish to achieve the goal of flipping the classroom, there are key steps that need to be followed:
For a flipped classroom, the teacher must be able to secure a stable internet connection, the equipment for filming the content, software to edit and share the content, as well as hosting services that will host the content to be shared with the students. If the content involves both video and documents, some services may allow for the sharing of both types of files. Teachers can also combine various types of media for enhanced learning, such as embedding a YouTube Video within a PowerPoint presentation.
Unlike classes in a traditional classroom, there are fewer distractions in the flipped classroom since classroom management is not a factor. Coupled with the concept of making video content as short and concise as possible, creating video content for the lessons should follow the standards of video content creation as well.
Teachers should clearly explain the idea of the flipped classroom to the parents and students before proceeding. This is important as this particular change is a major one, not to mention one that upends the long-held views and traditions of the traditional classroom. Explaining this change and striving to attain the goal of acceptance of this change among others is not an easy task. One has to be prepared to address questions and allay some fears as well.
More than the technology, the flipped classroom is more about the participation of students. Any lack of engagement can be a roadblock in the conduct of the class as the students will not be able to engage in class-related activities. It is important for students to be accountable in class and to follow the lessons being presented. Gamification of the lessons such as holding recap quizzes or tickets is one way to ensure such accountability. And if a learning management system (LMS) is being utilized, results can be generated in real-time.
Teachers in the flipped classroom are expected to have established an efficient process that involves planning the lessons, filming content, and assessing students in a seamless workflow. More importantly, that established process should be practiced consistently. As such, creating a classroom management plan example for this learning model is crucial. This is to help teachers focus more on helping the students instead of ending up not having enough time because much of it was spent trying to fix the nuts and bolts of the process, so to speak.
Since it was first implemented in 2007, the adoption of the flipped classroom has grown considerably. But it was at the height of the global COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 when we saw its almost exponential rate of adoption. With lockdowns being implemented and schools shut down to prevent the spread of the virus, schools that never offered other learning models were compelled to adopt a flipped classroom. Homework and class discussions that usually occur in school began to take place virtually through video conferencing.
With regards to its efficiency, the results are mixed at best with different studies stating different findings on the value of the flipped classroom. One study cited that students were generally satisfied with the approach due to the ease of access to resources for self-paced learning (Michigan State, 2021). Meanwhile, another study found that while flipped classrooms are a viable learning model, students are generally disinterested to participate in classes without a grade incentive at stake. (Singh, 2021) One other study asserted that flipped classroom and flipped learning, in general, did not necessarily contribute to lifelong learning nor an increase in 21st-century skills. (Smith, 2021)
It is expected that more research will come out about the flipped classroom as it continues to evolve in the midst of an unprecedented adoption rate during this pandemic. It is clear though from what is available thus far that the concept still has a long way to go.
The level of awareness and adoption of a concept as recent and revolutionary as the flipped classroom was unprecedented in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the same vein, the pandemic brought serious challenges to the concept as schools, teachers, parents, and students were unprepared to understand the idea and nature of this model. Regardless of the reception, the flipped classroom has helped the education system across the globe cope with the devastating effects of the pandemic by ensuring the continuation of the learning process. While some schools may fully revert to the traditional classroom model in the post-pandemic world, it is expected that the flipped classroom will continue to grow as more are seeing a certain value in this learning model.
It is hoped that the flipped classroom will evolve from the experience and insights gained over the past year. At the moment, the main challenge is to improve the level of engagement from what it currently can achieve among students. Successfully addressing this matter is a vital one for students to have a level of control over their learning even in the midst of an uncertain world.