Flipped Classrooms: Fad or Future?

The flipped classroom concept was interesting to me as I have only ever had a traditional education up until now. I grew up in a time where computers were giant machines only large corporations could afford and you learned to live with writers cramp and ink that smeared. Today the education world looks a lot different and if I’m going to be a part of it I need to keep up and stay current. The big question is where to start??

For those of you not familiar with a flipped classroom, this is a newish (2007) format where the educator provides online learning materials (such as videos, quizzes, etc) which students are to review and/or complete at home prior to class. Class time is then used for review of the material and answering questions or assisting the students. There is some current debate on whether this is a trend or the new way of teaching. My opinion is that it’s out there and being utilized so why not try to understand what it is. What really caught my attention was how many media outlets there are to create a flipped classroom, that the focus is now more on making the student more responsible for their learning (I think this is more for K-12 students) and that the class time is now an open format for educators to make their own.

Keeping in mind that adult learners like relevant and applicable information, how do I as an educator provide a flipped classroom that provides online information that my students will find relevant and interesting? What should I look for in making my online resources? And when it comes to class time, well, what do I do? How should this look? Luckily, this topic is hot right now and the amount of web resources are amazing and can be a bit overwhelming.

I’ve spent some time watching tutorials and even signing up for free trials so I can get a sense of what is available, what I would find relevant for my classroom and what is educator friendly for new “flippers”. I suggest future flipped classroom educators do the above for a flipped classroom is not a “one-size fits all” type of thing. There are links that lead to other links that lead to more links and it’s really about finding what you are comfortable tech wise and what the purpose of your class is. You can also sign up for alerts and updates on some of the websites to help keep you current. I’ve included a list of these websites in my Resource section.

The ownership that is now placed on the student isn’t a new concept when it comes to the adult learner as we have discovered in PIDP 3100 that this is actually a cornerstone of adult education. When researching, most of this emphasis was placed on the k-12 group but there are a few universities who are incorporating a flipped approach. There is also suggestions that it is the students responsibility to have appropriate access to a computer and be able to navigate the pre-class online learning activites. As with the traditional approach, students are expected to show up to class prepared with required readings and assignments completed.

Now what to do about the classroom? I think this is a wide open blank canvas and perhaps a good place to start, if possible, is to ask your students what type of classroom they would like to have. Not only does this help them to take some ownership of their learning but we can make each classroom unique to each class and their needs.  I think that as long as the course content is addressed how it’s delivered could be tailor made in the flipped situation. So far there isn’t one model for the classroom but there are many resources available to help you figure this out. One of the websites I found suggested using class time to assess comprehension and understanding and to expand from there such as a debate or group activities. My suggestion is to connect with educators who have flipped their classrooms and get ideas from them. Not only will you develop a network of like minded people but it then becomes a huge resource pool.

I have to say that I’m unsure if I’m sold on a flipped classroom. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t seen one for myself or perhaps it’s because I’m used to a more traditional method of instruction delivery. This is a topic I’ll keep looking at to see how it continues to progress and perhaps when I get a class of my own, I may just flip after all.

The Web-Conference with David was informative. It was helpful to speak to someone and since we have different employment backgrounds we each had a unique perspective. David had a great insight regarding the concept of a flipped classroom and that is that facilitator/instructor/educator needs to be excited about a flipped classroom and I have to agree with him. Though we agreed that the idea of a flipped classroom is better for K-12 students we did see that if we are well organized and have things planned well, we could incorporate a flipped classroom somehow into our areas of employment. I think it’s fair to say that we are both neutral on the topic of a flipped classroom and you can read more about Davids’ ideas and opinions for a flipped classroom at 500mgofcaffeine.weebly.com

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