What are flipped classrooms?

An overview of the new teaching method you may experience

What are flipped classrooms?

A typical classroom setting features you, the student, entering a class, listening to a lecture, taking notes and maybe partaking in a class discussion or collaboration while the teacher conducts the learning. After class, it becomes your responsibility to complete the assigned homework and budget the rest of your time accordingly to accommodate other schoolwork.


But what if these classroom roles were essentially “flipped” and your responsibilities as a student were altered? A new trend in education called a flipped classroom intends to do exactly that. 

How does it work?

A teacher or professor will prepare lessons or video podcasts that are available for students before class. In class, students will devote time to exercises, projects and collective class discussion. Instead of a lecture format, the teacher leaves the role of classroom leader and takes on the function of interacting with students as more of a tutor and co-collaborator. This creates an open dialogue with students as well as with the teacher and makes asking questions much more accessible for students. Students are not singled out and can instead work together to solve problems and ask questions.



Who’s participating?

The history of the idea of the flipped classroom dates back to the early 1990’s when the structure of classrooms were starting to be debated. Harvard Professor Eric Mazur integrated the idea into his introductory undergraduate physics classes. Since this movement, all levels of education have tested the flipped classroom method. It sees the most popularity in high schools and colleges across the country.



Which subjects are being taught?

It stretches across a wide array of subjects ranging from advanced calculus, foreign language, and sciences, hitting everything in between. In a normal lecture, students are attempting to capture what is being said through listening and note taking. For many students, this method doesn't allow enough time for you to reflect and make your own insights and therefore must be accomplished outside of class, if accomplished at all. By featuring the lesson before class, students have time to prepare their thoughts and organize their arguments in a way that leaves them open to discussion when it comes time to apply it to the in class work.



Technology’s influence

Students are familiar with and often use their own technology and smart device to accomplish many of their goals. Because of this, more teachers are integrating technology into the classroom by integrating web content as part of their daily assignments. Technology should help accelerate the flipped classroom movement as education makes new advancements since students are utilizing material already accessible to them. 



Room for error

There is a lot of room for mistakes within the trial and error of initiating the flipped classroom. It takes careful preparation for teachers to organize a schedule and adhere to it by making the proper recordings. Because it is a new skill, many teachers are unfamiliar with the methods of making these changes and must learn on their own. It can be done and does see success but it must be done carefully and with the approval of the district or university involved.



What does this mean for you?

The flipped classroom model places more responsibility on the student. In that way, you no longer have the opportunity to take a passive role and let the teacher serve you. Instead you will be expected to be held accountable for your own learning. 

What's the benefit to this? By taking a more aggressive role in your education, you can be empowered with more ability to experiment with your interests and learning styles. Additionally, by posting lessons before class time, the teacher has more of an ability devote his or her time to students and their individual needs. This works well in small group settings where students with similar learning methods can group together for help and works as a one to one tutor basis.


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