“Flipped learning is a pedagogical approach in which direct instruction moves from the group space to the individual space, and the resulting group space is transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment where the educator guides students as they apply concepts and creatively engage in the subject manner.”
Jon Bergmann, 2016
This weekend, I completed the Flipped Learning Certified online course, designed and delivered by Jon Bergmann (one of Flipped Learning’s pioneers). I want to take this opportunity to share the main take-aways from this fantastic course. While it’s an opportunity to reflect, I also hope to inspire others. In what ways would your students benefit from flipping?
I have been occasionally flipping my lessons for about a year, with some success. You can read my other blog posts here. Whilst acknowledging my successes so far, the course taught me that I can go much further, and that there are things that I should modify. Flipped Learning has huge potential and I have only scratched the surface.
Our time with children is precious and potentially impactful. Research has shown that teachers are the single most important factor in a child’s learning. In acknowledgement of this, there is one key question that drives Flipped Learning: what is the best use of face-to-face class time? The answer to that will perhaps depend on your context, but whole class teacher talk is probably not the answer. In a traditional classroom, students are introduced to new content in the group space (typically the classroom) and then asked to apply the ideas in the individual space (typically as homework). Consider this question: when do your students need you the most? Jon Bergmann and other Flipped Learning pioneers argue that the individual space should come first. Students can be introduced to new ideas during the individual space (usually through videos) in order to utilise the face-to-face class time for higher-order thinking (according to Robert Marzano’s extensive research into USA classrooms, only 6% of class time is spent on cognitively complex tasks).
The diagrams below show how the group space and individual space are flipped in this model. This allows time for higher level thinking and cognitive challenge to take place where it is needed – with the teacher.
“Flipped Learning is NOT about the videos – it’s about the active learning that can take place in class because of the videos.”
Jon Bergmann, 2016
The quote above is important. Flipped Learning is about class time. Videos allow us to make better use of it. However, students should not passively watch videos. They should interact with them. This interactivity not only provides accountability, but provides teachers with assessment data before class time even begins. This data should be used to inform differentiation and to know best how to support each student. The simplest way for students to interact with videos is to take notes (encourage them to include their own questions and bring them to class). Tech tools can also be used to add interactivity. Tools like EDpuzzle and Google Forms are excellent for this. Students must be held accountable for watching videos.
Create your own flipped content
This is my target. I have created some videos in the past, but more often found existing videos from places such as YouTube. This was not out of laziness. I chose these because they were higher quality videos than mine (video creation is not yet a strong point) and I actually thought that it might be beneficial for students to hear additional explanations as well as mine. As it turns out, none of that matters. Learning is enhanced through relationships. Students connect and engage with their teachers. The research is clear: flipped content has more impact when students are watching/listening to their own teacher. It’s not bad practice to use others – it just isn’t best practice. Try creating your own flipped videos. After I have practised myself, I’ll blog about various ways to do this. Watch this space!
In-Flipping is an alternative to homework flipping. Students can interact with flipped content during class time, allowing the teacher to focus on a smaller number of students. This idea would fit well into station rotation models and independent groups. The same idea applies: when students work with the teacher, they are already prepared for active learning.
Addressing some common concerns
- Flipping does not add to traditional homework – it should replace it.
- Research shows minimal or no addition to students’ screen time. Their leisurely (often mindless) screen time is replaced with meaningful educational content.
- Teachers do not need to be ‘tech-savvy’ for effective flipping. It can be done in low-tech ways.
- Students do not necessarily need an internet connection at home. There are offline ways to interact with content. However, flipping would be difficult if a student doesn’t have access to a device at home. If this is the case, stick with the In-Flip.
- Parents who are familiar with traditional homework generally get on board as soon as they understand the pedagogy. Take time to explain it to them. The biggest selling point: it increases the quality learning time that their child gets with their teacher.
This is just a whistle-stop tour of the course. I have condensed eight hours into just 900 words. The course obviously goes into much more detail. I hope that this post encourages you to consider flipping, and perhaps even take the course yourself. To apply, click here (it’s US$70, but I promise that it’s money well spent).
I’m really interested in your thoughts. If I can’t answer your questions, I’ll direct them to Jon. Whether you’re an experienced flipper, a newbie like me, or a cynic, please add your comments below.
Jon’s book on the left is just one in the series. To see more subject-specific ones, click here.