“The flipped classroom is…essentially reversing the traditional order…this approach fits adult education’s values of active learner engagement and self-direction.” (Merriam & Bierema, 2014, p.207)
I first heard about the flipped classroom at an educator’s conference in 2013, and was immediately interested in learning more. When I saw this quote, particularly in context to the rest of the course and material I have been studying, it offered an opportunity for critical reflection, ironically enough. At first sight, the flipped classroom model, where the lecture and homework elements of a course are reversed (EDUCAUSE, 2012) offers an opportunity to maximize face to face time between instructors and students. The logic behind this is sound – why fill a student with a pile of new information and then send them home to figure it out by themselves, or with the help of their peers or parents who may know even less that they about the subject matter, when we can do the opposite.
As a concept it sounds simple enough – give the students the lecture to watch at home and work on their assignments with them in class, but in approaching the delivery sequence differently, we must also look at how we design and deliver each of the components in a different way as well. Rather than just delivering the content the same way, we will need to shift our role as educators and maximize the power of all of the technology available (Gillett, 2015). Simply flipping the classroom and sending students home with a lecture and doing the homework in class is what has critics of the approach talking about it as an ineffective method. (Atteberry, 2013)
As someone who has always enjoyed the solving of the problem more than taking in the theory need to do so, the flipped classroom offers a lot of appeal. An important insight is that the approach may not work for all subject matter or for all learners, so careful thought must be taken to ensure that what the learner is getting is best suited given the situation. Creating meaningful and engaging content that can be delivered remotely, and having giving students the tools to come to class prepared to act on their newfound knowledge are two things that are critical in the flipped classroom. One might even argue that flipped is the wrong word. For me, it’s more of a shift, as the new concept is still delivered before the activity, it’s just which portion of the learning the instructor spends the one on one time with the student that is reversed.
I see this as one of the most beneficial uses for educational technology, particularly in vocational training. Most vocational instructors enjoy most teaching the hands-on portion of their course. For a cook, standing in front of the class explaining how to use a knife is far less rewarding that showing someone directly how to adjust their grip and seeing the benefit that has on their productivity and control. To add to that, shop time is very valuable, and having students in in a classroom getting a theory lesson instead of spending as much time as possible on the tools kind of defeats the purpose. On that basis, bringing the flipped classroom to the trades is an excellent fit, the challenge for us as educators will be coming up with take home lessons that will precede the shop time in a new and inventive way, and not trying to just send them home with a recording of our face to face theory delivery.
EDUCAUSE (2012, February 7) 7 things you should know about flipped classrooms. In Research and Publications. Retrieved from: https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7081.pdf
Gillett, B. (2015, April 29) Education in the Digital Age. In Academica Top 10. Retrieved from: http://forum.academica.ca/articles/2015/4/29/written-by-bob-gillett
Merriam, S.B., Bierema, L.L. (2014) Adult Learning: Linking Theory and Practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
Emily Atteberry (2013, December 5) ‘Flipped classrooms’ may not have any impact on learning. In USA Today Online. Retrieved from: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/10/22/flipped-classrooms-effectiveness/3148447/