What is Flipped Classroom?
Flipped Classroom (FC) moves traditional lectures outside the classroom, usually through videos, so that valuable in-class time can be reserved for higher level cognitive activities.
This is a working definition we put for beginners of FC. However, we do not want to limit the WHAT question to one single version because its adopters, researchers, or observers never reach a simple agreement on it. Instead, we review points that have commonly accepted and encourage you to come up with your own understanding.
Essential elements of FC
No universal definition is available for “Flipped Classroom”. However, academics tend to agree that a flipped classroom includes two elements:
(students view the videos by themselves for pre-class preparation or post-class review)
(in-class time is now focused on interactive activities, such as Q&A sessions, discussions, or other active learning activities)
Flipped classroom is sometimes called “inverted classroom”, as it inverts activities inside the classroom with activities outside the classroom.
Traditional class VS Flipped class
How did FC begin?
Flipped learning is a powerful pedagogical movement in the 21st-century education. Its practice has spread to many classrooms in the west. Students are no longer passive audience of lectures; they have become pilots of their own learning. But how did they get there? It all began in Colorado, United States with Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams in 2007.
As two passionate high school chemistry instructors, they became concerned with students who often missed a lot of class time. They began recording their lectures and then posted them on YouTube for students who were absent to catch up with the class. The next year, they asked all students to view the videos before class, and used class time to discuss the concepts from what they have learnt at home.
How has FC evolved?
Since then flipped classroom has evolved. For example, some instructors would use computer games and audio recordings as pre-class learning materials. However, for most of the time, video lectures remain the key feature of a flipped classroom. Video styles have evolved as well. Instead of recording the whole lectures (which can be less effective as we all know that students' attention span is short), instructors begin to use animations to enhance visual effects. Some instructors embed interactive elements such as online quizzes and discussions to make the videos more engaging.
The notion of ‘flipped classroom’ has gained its popularity in Hong Kong and rest of the world because it has the potential of substantially enhance teaching and learning. In one word, FC can achieve more than the traditional approach, when it is successfully implemented. Here are some potentials FC brings.
More time allocated for learning activities in the class means that students have more opportunities to use the knowledge, ask questions and voice out opinions. The combined use of self-learning materials with hands-on classroom experience exposes students to an active and constructive environment rich in active learning discovery.
Flipped Classroom Approach
Instructors are able to provide immediate feedback to students in the class based on performance on tasks.
The innovative pedagogy provides an opportunity for reinforcement of concepts through actively engaged in various forms of learning activities.
In a flipped classroom, instructors work directly with individual students. Students are also given more chance to discuss and work with their peers.
More support can be given to those students that are struggling, as opposed to the traditional lecture where most of the questions posed come from the stronger students.
Instructors would find the course more stimulating to teach. They can focus their time and energy on the part of the class that is exciting and different from semester to semester, and most instructors find interaction with students the most rewarding.
The flipped classroom should allow instructors to cover more material as the lecture content is delivered asynchronously. Thus, teaching and learning are not limited by a finite number of face-to-face class hours.
Simply ‘flipping’ a classroom alone may or may not increase the odds of success. To harvest the best outcomes from the new pedagogy, we should think beyond the positive side and consider the possible challenges.
Students in the following scenarios can run into challenges.
We should not assume every student will love the homework all the time. Question One is, “what if students do not do the homework?”
There are many types of learning activities and students will be asked to do many different things as the learning progressed. They may find it very difficult to navigate these in-class expectations and eventually they may get “lost”.
Failed Class Activities
Some students are uncomfortable to take responsibility for their own learning. They would complain about the loss of face-to-face lectures. Those who see themselves as attending class to hear lectures may feel it is safe to skip activities and might miss the real value of the flip.
Using technology to introduce students to new content may cause students to feel less connected to the instructor in the classroom; It may also negatively influence students’ ability to transfer their learning to contexts different from those in the initial introduction.
For the whole innovation to be meaningful, students should feel the additional learning opportunities, especially when compared with a traditional class. If students think that classes are redundant or even a waste of time, they may skip the class altogether.
Flipped class may hurt students who are economically under-privileged and have limited access to technology. The new practice highly depending on technology could end up leaving low-income students behind and widening the achievement gap.
Students may find adapting to the new strategies challenging. Group work, for example, is a major part of the flip section and often it leads to a looser class structure. Active students who have better self-control seem to be more able to take advantage of this learning environment.
Less Active Learners
Instructors carrying out FC may have their challenges too.
Instructors need to spend considerably more energy and time to re-directed students’ attention to work on the activities at hand.
New Teaching Skills
Recording lectures requires effort and time on the part of faculty, and out-of-class and in-class elements must be carefully integrated for students to understand the model and be motivated to prepare for class. As a result, introducing a flip can mean additional work and may require new skills for instructors.
More Time and Effort
Some instructors fear that flipped classroom can be downgraded to a series of video-watching activities especially if class time is not used interactively and meaningfully. The flipped classroom will then lead to huge classes with little engagement.