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Flipped Classroom: Definition, Benefits, & How to Implement It


“If we teach today's students as we taught yesterday's, we rob them of tomorrow.” ― John Dewey, American educational reformer

A survey on the classroom habits of K-12 teachers in the U.S., especially technology use and homework assignment, commissioned recently by the University of Phoenix revealed the following interesting findings:

  • 71% of teachers allow students to research subjects with the help of internet
  • 64% of teachers use games and simulations to aid in learning
  • 49% of teachers use web-based tools flipped classroom software to help students improve their comprehension and writing skills

This data highlights the fact that technology has already had a significant presence in education. Educational technology or edtech is fast transforming the educational landscape. One of them is the concept of a flipped classroom.

What is a Flipped Classroom?

flipped classroom

Of all the impacts technology has had on education in the past few years, the idea of a flipped classroom has arguably been the most influential. But what is flipped classroom learning, what are its benefits, and how do you implement this idea in your classroom?

The term flipped refers to the format of a class. In a traditional classroom, content delivery happens during the scheduled class time (usually via lectures or readings) and the real learning activities (problem sets, projects, etc.) are done as homework.

In a flipped classroom, that relationship is exactly reversed. Students access the content resources before they come to class, using pre-recorded video lectures and other online tools, and then they use class time for hands-on learning activities that are usually considered homework. In other words, those activities that students do in and out of a classroom are flipped.

The flipped classroom represents a blended or hybrid learning system that uses a combination of face-to-face and digital learning techniques.

Educators, from elementary school teachers to corporate trainers, use the flipped classroom model to enhance the learning experience.

Read more: What is Blended Learning? Definition, Components, Models, & Advantages
Flipped Classroom Definition by Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching provides an excellent definition of flipped classroom:

“The flipped classroom describes a reversal of traditional teaching where students gain first exposure to new materials outside of class, usually via reading or lecture videos, and then class time is used to do the harder work of assimilating that knowledge through strategies such as problem-solving, discussion, or debates.”

As you can see, the flipped classroom definition goes beyond just what activities are done when and where. What makes flipped learning so effective is the deeper meaning behind the various activities.

In a traditional classroom, students often gain their first exposure to new materials in a classroom, usually during lectures. Then, they are sent home to do the “harder work of assimilating” that information on their own. The problem with this format is that it is not a very good way for students to learn. When being exposed to new materials for the first time, students usually haven’t had the opportunity to process the information enough even to identify where they have questions. And the harder work of assimilation is more effective when students have support, such as people to answer their questions and with whom to talk through problems.

The flipped classroom corrects this problem by moving the exposure to new information out of classrooms, so that students can process the information, identify their sticking points, and then ask questions during class.

The ability to engage in “strategies such as problem-solving, discussion, or debates” also deepens learners’ engagement with the concepts, and they are able to master them rather than just a perfunctory understanding.

Watch this video:

Benefits of Flipped Classrooms

The flipped learning movement in the U.S. is still going strong years after it came into being. Aside from being an innovative way to use new technologies, the flipped classroom model is popular because instructors and learners like it and it works for both of them. This proves that the flipped classroom learning is more effective and engaging than traditional lectures.

A flipped classroom brings a number of benefits to learners. Here are some of them:

✔ Self-Paced Learning

In a traditional classroom, the instructor determines the pace of learning. This fails to serve most learners as some are fast learners while others are slow learners. In addition, one method of delivery may not be right for all learners.

Unlike this, in a flipped classroom, learners can control the pace at which they learn. For example, they can stop, rewind, and review video lectures as many times as they need to until they understand the concepts. This simply isn’t possible when lectures are delivered live.

Read: What is Blended Learning? Definition, Components, Models, & Advantages

✔ Reduction in Academic Disparities

In a traditional classroom, slow learners are often left behind or forced to move to the next level before they are ready. Over time, this can lead to great academic disparities in classes.

In a flipped classroom, since students learn at their own pace, they all get equal opportunities. Slow learners can take the time they need to master the concepts. This reduces academic disparities and gives all learners the chance to succeed.

✔ Room for More Interactions

Interaction is key to successful learning, and traditional, lecture-based classes offer very little opportunity for this essential component.

Fortunately, in a flipped classroom learning model, students spend the entire class time interacting - with the content, with the teacher, and with fellow students. They can ask questions, solve problems, and engage in activities that make learning meaningful. Teachers can also spend more one-on-one time with their students.

This is significant particularly because students who receive support from both their instructors (and other students) do better academically and socially.

✔ Learning by Doing

In a lecture-based classroom, listening to lectures is the primary learning activity. This is passive, and the instructor often has no idea whether the learners are learning anything until test time.

In the flipped classroom learning, students spend their class time on active learning. Not only is this a better way to learn, but instructors can better gauge comprehension and adjust the online training course content and schedule as necessary to ensure real learning takes place.

✔ Better Learning

Many researchers have examined the results of flipped classroom learning, and so far they are overwhelmingly positive. One case study of flipped learning in a high school found that before the flip, more than 50% of freshmen failed English and 44% failed math. After the school flipped its learning model, only 19% of freshmen failed English and 13% failed math. There were other positive results as well. For example, the number of discipline cases in a single semester decreased from 736 before the flip to 249 afterward.

✔ Mastery of Learning

In a traditional classroom, the emphasis is often on getting all students to reach a minimum level of competency. The goal is simply for students not to fail, which means that even if a student gets a D in a course, that student will move to the next level.

Flipped classroom learning, on the other hand, is a more personalized form of learning that enables all students to achieve mastery over different topics and subjects. Students can continue working with a concept until they truly understand it, rather than just gaining a minimal understanding before having to move on.

Overall, the main reason to use a flipped classroom learning model is that it works better than the traditional lecture-based model. By allowing students to learn at their own pace, providing opportunities for active learning and interactive learning, and focusing on mastery rather than minimums, flipped learning provides every student with a learning experience that is most meaningful and most effective.

How to Create a Flipped Classroom

With the kind of educational technologies available today, you can flip any classroom. All teachers need to do is put their course materials online and design collaborative learning activities to be completed in class, rather than at home.

On the instructor side, you’d need a few free or low-cost online tools:

  • Content creation tools - You can use different tools to create a course, including a webcam for video lectures, screen share software for presentations and tutorials, and PDF software for text-based materials. The advantage is that you can choose the best tool for each piece of content, rather than having to make all content fit into the same delivery format.
  • Content distribution tools - After you’ve created the content for your course, you need to distribute it. There are many ways you can do this. One of the most popular is using a software program with an online course creator or authoring tool. These tools allow you to organize your course resources into modules that students can log in and access. They also provide extras, such as discussion forums and sometimes test making software.

On the student side, all learners need is a computer or mobile device and an internet connection. If you use an online course creator, students can log in to the system to gain access to all of the content and other resources.

Read more: Advantages of Using a Learning Management System in Educational Institutions
Here are some options for creating online course materials so that you can flip a classroom easily:
  • Video Lectures - Anyone can create a video lecture using nothing but the webcam on their computer, or even a smartphone or mobile tablet.

video lectures

  • Podcasts - If you don’t want to be on a video, you can use online tools to create audio podcasts.
  • Presentations and tutorials - Another option is using screen share software to create presentations and tutorials.
  • PDFs - Finally, text-based materials can be put into PDF for easy uploading and downloading.

Best Software for Flipped Classroom

Flipping a classroom is a powerful new way to engage students and enhance their learning experience. Even as you read this post, many teachers continue to adopt the flipped classroom model, and the reason is that it is feasible. It is both engaging and effective, more so than traditional methods. With digital tools and online course creators, it is easy to apply the principles of flipped learning to any course. Why not try it today?

ProProfs Training Maker is an online blended learning software that you can use to create courses for both online and physical classroom-based training. Apply the flipped classroom model and deliver video-based lectures supplemented by face-to-face interactions. Give learners the freedom to learn anytime, anywhere through the LMS software.

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About the author

Kamy is an eLearning & training expert. He has been published in eLearningIndustry, TrainingMag. As a corporate trainer at ProProfs, he has been instrumental in building an awesome eLearning management system that has simplified learning and training for thousands of customers across the globe. Follow Kamy @kamyanderson

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