Good reviews for flipped classrooms

flipped classroomFlipped classrooms make a great deal of sense to me. Use quality teaching materials produced to a high standard by professionals to get the basic message across outside of class, and then have in-class teachers back that up by reinforcing the message and filling any gaps. That’s efficient, and plays to modern students preferred methods of getting information.

While there are advocates of flipped classrooms, there’s been little data to back up the idea. Which is why I found this article from Education Technology Solutions so interesting. Jon Bergmann actually asked students what their perception of their experience in a flipped classroom was. There’s a lot of interesting feedback there; but, crucially, a significant majority of students felt that the flipped model helped them better understand class content.

I can’t say that’s a surprise. Video’s don’t have an off-day, they don’t suffer from lack of coffee, or a unsettled class. Video’s can be replayed until the meaning is clear. And if things aren’t clear that’s when the teacher can help the next day by reinforcing and clarifying. Students can work at their own pace – up to a point – and do the work at a time that is effective for them. Some of the comments reflect all this:

You have time to think and it is easy for you to pass your assignments and assessments.

My class has more time for discussion and my teacher can answer more questions that I have.

Students do harder things in class, and can have questions prepared for their teachers.

My own love affair with the flipped classroom came from home-schooling my kids while long-term travelling. We used an amazing course from Johns Hopkins University that had a brilliant mathematician who was also a stand-up comic backed up by modern production techniques. That produced a learning experience that’s hard, or impossible, to replicate. It was an amazing way of learning a topic. But it had to be backed up by human interaction to fill in the gaps, or clarify the bits that the kids didn’t quite get, or built on something they had forgotten. That combination, however, is unbeatable.

In NSW the changes to the curriculum provide a real opportunity to do something innovative and really embrace flipped classrooms. The new Australian Technologies curriculum is an obvious starting point that, I would argue, requires a flipped classroom approach to work. But the approach can work almost anywhere.

Jon Bergamnn’s research is summarised here. The survey is still open and anyone using the flipped classroom model is encouraged to have their students give feedback here.

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