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A Flipped Classroom Approach: Tips from 3 Bett Speakers

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Gouldian Finch | June 21, 2018
A Flipped Classroom Approach: Tips from 3 Bett Speakers

We’ll go ahead and say it: The traditional classroom structure we’ve all grown used to is too limiting for today’s day and age.

After all, with the way technology has become interwoven into our daily lives, it only makes sense that our educational structure adapts to this shift to leverage the power of technology in a flipped classroom approach.

Have you ever felt this way too? Well, you’re not alone.

As such, it’s time to introduce a flipped classroom approach.  

The implementation of a flipped classroom approach is easier said than done, however, and you’ll certainly need some guidance. 

As such, we’ve asked 3 Bett show speakers about their views on the tried-and-tested flipped classroom approach, which has been used to boost learning results from K-12 all the way through higher education for over 25 years.

Below you’ll find professional insight into:

  • What is a flipped classroom approach?
  • What challenges will you face within a flipped classroom approach?
  • Tips and resources to use for your flipped classroom approach

Flipped classroom vs. traditional classroom

What is a Flipped Classroom Approach?

Before we get started, take a look at this video to learn a bit about the concept behind flipped classrooms and concerns they are meant to solve.

Flipped classroom Neil RickusNeil Rickus; EdTech Consultant & Former Teacher:

For myself, a flipped classroom approach enables me to spend more time with pupils and to develop our professional relationship.

In particular, as I’m spending less time delivering content, further opportunities to work with the teacher developing “soft skills”, such as collaborating and problem solving, can be incorporated into sessions. Developing these skills would otherwise be difficult in a traditional classroom environment.

 

It’s beneficial for teachers because,

 Children will often be gaining their knowledge from sources other than the teacher, such as through the use of existing YouTube video. This enables the teacher to act more as a facilitator, rather than the person delivering knowledge.

 

It’s beneficial for students because,

The use of the flipped classroom model means pupils become more familiar with technology and how to use it in a professional environment, rather than to solely communicate with their friends or play games. It also gives a purpose to work away from the classroom, plus enables pupils to seek guidance on work when not in school, such as through the use of discussion forums or instant messaging.

Dr. Neelam Parmar; Teacher & Director of E-learning for Primary & Secondary SchoolsFlipped classroom Neelam Parmar

As the name implies, a flipped classroom model is a pedagogical strategy in which classroom based learning is flipped.

So what does this mean?

It means that in a flipped classroom approach, most of the learning is taking place at home or in a student’s preferred choice of setting. The theory is such that students are introduced to teaching materials before class, either through a virtual learning environment or through a form of online delivery. This helps prioritise classroom time to deepen understanding through discussion with teachers and peers. 

 

It is important to note that the flipped classroom approach is not a new concept – it has actually been around for decades! To be precise it was introduced by Harvard Professor Eric Mazur in the 1990’s. Professor Mazur provided material for students to take home and prepare prior to class. This enabled him to use the time spent in class to encourage deeper cognitive thinking and reflection. This type of teaching pedagogy was coined ‘just in time teaching’.

Flipped classroom Nicole Ponsford

Nicole Ponsford; EdTech Consultant and Former Teacher:

In the words of flipped learning advocate Jon Bergmann (who you will see in the video at the end of this article), “classrooms all around the world have two things in common – they’re amazingly similar and they look the same as they did 100 years ago!”

The fact that classrooms around the globe are “so strikingly similar” and have been for over a hundred years makes me shudder! In England, our Victorian image of a contemporary classroom is, however, effective in regard to keeping classes disciplined and under control.

As a former teacher, I think this Victorian model has many shortcomings. It’s dull and simply not good enough! It doesn’t respect the intelligence of my students, nor does it illustrate that education is exciting.

This antiquated idea of a classroom needs to be flipped on its head in the form of flipped learning via a flipped classroom approach!

We’ve come a long way since Victorian England and are currently in the midst of the fourth digital industrial revolution. We are teaching digital citizens in 2018. This is the twenty-first century – we don’t need training in being in the 21st century, we are nearly two decades into it already.

 

Challenges Faced Within a Flipped Classroom Approach

 

Neil Rickus; EdTech Consultant & Former Teacher:

 

There are a number of issues to overcome with the flipped classroom approach before it can be implemented successfully within the classroom. A number of these are outlined below, along with some possible solutions:

 

Requires self-discipline from pupils

Although some children often don't undertake traditional homework and/or hand it in on time, this simply means they don't get the benefit of follow-up work from the lesson. However, with the flipped classroom model, by not taking part in the proposed activities, pupils can't contribute to the lesson. It may therefore be necessary to factor in time before the session for those children that haven't undertaken the tasks such as in a breakfast club or an optional session before the main lesson.

There can also be a temptation for children to use other technologies whilst viewing content, such as utilising social media and temporary blocks on other tools during flipped learning activities should be considered.

 

Teachers may have to create additional resources 

One of the most time consuming parts of implementing a flipped classroom strategy is that teachers may have to produce additional materials for the pupils to use away from the classroom.

Fortunately, there is a vast amount of content already available, such as YouTube videos, MOOCs, multiple choice questions and web-based resources. Whilst it is important that this content is customised for your pupils’ needs, it’s likely to save significant amounts of time, when compared to producing content from scratch.

 

Children may not have access to technology

In order to ensure pupils can access the resources, provision needs to be made to ensure that all children have a device to view the content. This could be through an after school or breakfast club, or perhaps through the loan of a device, which could be part of a 1-2-1 device provision within the school.

Alternatively, where appropriate, it may be that some of the resources can be given to pupils in a way that doesn't require technology to access them.

 

Increased screen time

As children will be spending more time using technology, there is a danger that the large amount of screen time already experienced by pupils will increase further. Issues around this can be reduced by working with parents to ensure that they are aware when children are going to be asked to view content on the screen and factoring this in when allowing them to use other technologies.

 

Dr. Neelam Parmar; Teacher & Director of E-learning for Primary & Secondary Schools:

 

While there are great gains with flipped learning classrooms, there is also some criticism for this new pedagogical strategy.

One of the biggest challenges is the significant amount of work needed up front.

Responsibilities can include anything from recording and uploading content, to learning new technical skills, as well as motivating students to participate and prepare in classroom discussion. Unfortunately, this adds to a teacher’s workload and although it is only an initial investment, it will still require additional time and effort from teachers on their part.

Another more pressing issue is the increased time in front of screens instead of people and places.

The good news for this point however,

is that there is no concrete evidence to demonstrate that students are working for longer hours in front of screens or that a flipped classroom approach causes serious problems to student’s social skills.

 

Nicole Ponsford; EdTech Consultant and Former Teacher:

 

This divide between ‘old school’ and the whizz kids does make me wonder if this is why the idea of EdTech is seen as a “disruptive” force, an add-on, to some teachers?

Because to these outdated images of uninspiring classrooms shiny tablets, learning without a teacher and - gasp - getting out of your chair would be.

So the question is:

Do we really prefer passive to active learners? (Hint: The answer is the latter, but they can stay seated if they wish).

Today many school leaders are still keen on ensuring school culture stays stuck in the past - rather than looking towards the future.

Is this because the drawback of Primary/Secondary/High school teaching means that when we poke the status quo, we challenge it?

We therefore prefer discipline to students owning their learning? What would happen if we facilitated learning as well as led it? Would there be chaos!?

As a teacher myself, in a school with a lack of teacher assistants and a disengaged cohort of inner-city kids, we didn’t have loads of tech – we didn’t have a ‘flexible learning environment’. It was me, them and my laptop. This was about ten years ago.

I started slowly; I recorded the ‘lecture-style’ parts of my lesson, and ‘flipped’ my classroom, so I could act as a guide whilst they watched (me) and then assisted them with the independent work. We then progressed to my podcasts/videos being taken outside of the lesson for their interactive learning. The students embraced it completely.

 

Tips and Resources for Your Flipped Classroom Approach

 

Neil Rickus; EdTech Consultant & Former Teacher:

 

To implement an effective flipped classroom model, it’s important to consider a number of areas which I’ve outlined below:

Identify suitable topics

There are a number of subject areas that lend themselves particularly well to a flipped classroom approach.

For example:

Topics where there is a large amount of content to be aware of, such as when introducing a number of facts for the first time, would be appropriate for children to be exposed to away from the classroom.

 

However, certain activities, such as those requiring children to apply their knowledge in different situations, are more suitable for exploring within school.

 

It is also important to consider whether children are going to have opportunities for further assistance during the activity, such as from an online discussion forum, or whether they are to undertake the task in isolation and be required to produce questions or follow-up work to demonstrate their knowledge.

 

Make content engaging for pupils

As with content within your classroom based lessons, it is vital that the materials used by pupils during flipped learning activities are engaging.

When producing your own content, it is important to consider the use of a range of media and also to seamlessly integrate this into a format that pupils can easily access.

Interactive software like Viewsonic’s ViewBoard and myViewBoard allows for a variety of content to be seamlessly integrated into a single presentation. It also allows for interactions with the content, such as pinches, taps and swipes, along with voice recording, to be saved and shared online.

 

Define follow up tasks

Prior to producing the content for flipped learning activities, it is also important to consider the follow-up tasks that children will participate in.

Prior to returning to the classroom, children may be given reflective tasks to consolidate their knowledge, such as recording key points or questions.

When returning to school, at the beginning of a session, there may be a short period of time where you address any questions arising from the flipped activity. This will be followed up by ensuring children undertake tasks that require others to be involved, such as collaborative work or problem solving, which couldn’t be undertaken independently at home.

Outcomes from the activities can be shared by pupils from their own device using myViewBoard, or a selection of questions compiled using collaborative tools.

 

Dr. Neelam Parmar; Teacher & Director of E-learning for Primary & Secondary Schools:

 

Bring this type of learning into the digital age and the concept of the flipped classroom is born.

There are a plethora of online content creation, collaboration and distribution tools to provide teachers with the opportunity to create interactive videos of their lessons. This has made flipped learning techniques highly accessible and appealing to students who are driving their own learning journeys.

Video creation tools like Show Me or sophisticated whiteboards and software such as ViewBoard and the myViewBoard interactive whiteboarding platform allow you to create flipped content with ease. These materials can be easily distributed via a School’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) or through more open sources like YouTube and Vimeo channels.

While video is one way forward into a flipped classroom model, some newer concepts of interactivity including questions and answers, and/or classroom based activities can now complement a flipped classroom approach.

Applications such as EdPuzzle or Nearpod have become a valuable addition of self-paced learning with interaction and tracking student’s assessment within video based material. This creates a feel of blended learning methods. 

There are many potential benefits for one to take a flipped classroom approach

and one major highlight is to reintroduce the classroom as an active place of study. Students have the potential to have increased input and control over their own learning and can study at their own pace. They are afforded the opportunities to pause or rewind their lessons, write down questions, take a short quiz attached and view their results in real time. This method allows students to realise their gaps in knowledge, which can be discussed in further depth with their teachers.

A more significant function of the flipped classroom approach was recently seen in Ashford School (UK) in which teachers offered lessons to students via the Firefly VLE. This came about as a result of pupils not being able to attend class due to adverse weather conditions.

By making school related videos, materials and resources available online, students who are forced to miss class due to weather conditions, sickness or even emergencies can catch up quickly. This helps teaching and learning to continue and progress without having students fall behind. 

Regardless of the challenges one can face with a flipped classroom approach, it’s still fair to say that new flipped pedagogy, enhanced through educational technology, can be very effective if used purposefully.

Learning can be tailored anywhere, anyhow and at any time. Flipped classrooms have the potential to take a hands-on approach with the view to improve student achievement and independent personalised learning journeys.

 

Nicole Ponsford; EdTech Consultant and Former Teacher:

 

Now, flipped learning and a flipped classroom approach actually seems to be key. This is an approach that means students are introduced to the learning before class. As a result, a deeper understanding is gained through discussion with their peers and problem-solving activities with their teachers.

Consider how you facilitate teaching and learning. When are you the most flexible with your teaching style? Educational blogger Chris Sweetman blogged about his recent ‘Flipped Classroom’ to support his teaching of adventure activities. In the blog, he highlighted how he looked into original content so his students couldn’t go online in advance.

Do you feel there is a group you think would enjoy being part of a flipped classroom? One factor might be to improve student voice. If you are on the bench, this article about Flipped Classroom legend Jim Baker will help you get in the game. His easy know-how presentations will make you flip out of your seat and get started asap!

Look at the tech you already use – and then challenge it! ViewSonic does this with their online white boarding. This means you can link your whiteboard to a mixture of secure, smart devices – allowing remote access and a flexible approach away from the standard whiteboard. Through using the embedded apps of the ViewBoard interactive flat panel, you can be up and running in no time. By using vBoard for annotation, ViewBoard® Cast for content sharing, and myViewBoard for cloud whiteboarding, you can enable multiple users to remotely write, share, and interact simultaneously as if they were in the same room!

Look at how you can get parents involved in flipped learning. Many (like me) feel that ‘home learning’ really misses its calling. Speak with parents before you get involved – or even better, get your students to do it! Let them see how engaged home and school learning is ultimately a flipped classroom approach.

Once you have tried this, you will see that having a flexible approach to teaching and learning benefits all. Students will love it and, you never know, you might think the flipped classroom approach is flipping great yourself!

Additional Resources for a Flipped Classroom Approach 

This video can help you get an idea of how to get started with establishing your flipped classroom and what types of content you may want to take advantage of.

If you are interested in reading more about flipped classrooms, these articles regarding flipped learning uses in K-12 and college classrooms and published results supporting the benefits of flipped learning expand on the topics covered in this article.

About the Authors:

Neil Rickus 

Dr. Neelam Parmar

Nicole Ponsford