The Covid-19 pandemic caused huge changes in education, with many students studying online at all levels across the world. This sudden shift allowed educators to experiment in education delivery, changing how teaching and classrooms operate. Flipping learning is among the new trends that have come out of this period. Although this is not a completely new concept, it is only in the past few years that the movement is gaining traction. While initially developed for online students, it is increasingly finding its way into physical classrooms as teachers find several benefits from having a flipped classroom.
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What is flipped learning?
Flipped learning literally ‘flips’ the traditional model of education. Traditionally a lesson would start with the delivery of information and example problems from the teacher, Then the students would be assigned activities or work based on that, perhaps involving some independent study depending on the age of the students. Homework would then be used to develop or reinforce the concepts learned. Flipped learning changes the order around.
In flipped learning, homework is the introduction to the topic. This homework would involve watching a video or online lecture so the students come to class ready for active learning. This class time then involves activities such as problem-solving, discussions, peer teaching, and group activities.
Flipped learning in an online environment
Flipped learning lends itself very well to online education. With students not physically present, it makes sense to give them a presentation they can absorb in their own time and then use the time when you connect online to hold discussions and activities that can test and develop their knowledge. Many teachers found this effective teaching method during the pandemic when so many classrooms went online. While most school-aged students have now returned to physical classrooms, much further education still takes place online, with online degrees becoming a popular way to gain qualifications. For these students, flipped learning encourages them to be active participants in their degree and increases the chances of collaborating with others even when they are not physically present.
How flipped learning benefits students
Most parents know the frustration of homework, especially when their child does not understand and then becomes anxious about whether they can complete it. Flipped learning changes that. As the task consists of a digitized introduction to the concept, it does not matter if the student has not understood it. It is simply there to form the basis of their knowledge, and they will arrive in class knowing what questions they need to ask to develop their understanding. The classroom becomes a more active learning environment, doing away with the times when students are required to listen, which can often lead to boredom and distraction. With the introduction available to watch at home, absent students can still gain the basis of that concept, allowing them to catch up more easily once they return to school.
Benefits for teachers
This learning method is also beneficial for teachers. Having created a digitized presentation to introduce the topic, they will not need to prepare another shortly, saving them valuable time. With the students already familiar with the matter from their homework, the time in the classroom can be more targeted, allowing them to quickly move on to challenges for the students who have fully understood the initial concept and greater support for those who have struggled. It also facilitates communication with parents as they can see their child’s learning.
Are there any disadvantages?
While most teachers and students are positive about flipped learning, there are some issues teachers should be aware of before flipping their classrooms. With the introduction to the topic provided as homework, teachers will rely on students coming to class with at least some knowledge. However, as with any task, some students will not have completed it.
There may also be some students who are unable to complete it. Providing digital content for students to download or watch in their own homes relies on them having the technology to do this and can result in a divide arising in the class between the technology-rich and technology-poor. Solutions such as homework clubs where students can use school technology can help, but even these may not help everyone. Some might rely on transport to get home, requiring them to leave school promptly or have other responsibilities out of school that mean they cannot stay late. Any issues such as these need to be handled sensitively, with no single solution being suitable for all.
However, above all, the more dynamic nature of flipped learning seems to have more benefits, keeping students engaged and active participants in their learning. It, therefore, seems likely that flipped learning is a trend that will continue to grow and develop.