Swarnima Introduces : The Flipped Classroom!

A Classroom is the room where Students are taught by the Teachers, about which we all know about. But, the world has changed a lot since its birth! But why not the Classroom? So, we came with an idea of this amazing ‘FLIPPED CLASSROOM’. Now you must be wondering what’s that!
So, let’s see some of it’s specs, and know it better.

The Flipped Classroom has become quite the buzz in education. In its simplest terms, the flipped classroom is about viewing and/or listening to lectures during one’s own time which frees up face-to-face class time for experiential exercises, group discussion, and question and answer sessions.

While there is no one model, the core idea is to flip the common instructional approach. With teacher-created videos and interactive lessons, instruction that used to occur in class is now accessed at home, in advance of a class. The class becomes the place to work through problems, advance concepts, and engage in collaborative learning. Most importantly, all aspects of instruction can be rethought to best maximize the scarcest learning resource time.
Flipped classroom, teachers almost universally agree, is not the instructional videos on their own, but how they are integrated into an overall approach, that makes the difference. Several trends have converged that are influencing how classes should be taught within higher education settings.
The first is technological innovation, which has made it easier to distribute lectures by the world’s leading instructors. Cognitive scientists determined that people’s short-term memory is very limited – it can only process so much at once. A lot of the information presented in a typical lecture comes at students too fast and is quickly forgotten.
Physics education researchers determined that the traditional lecture-based physics course where students sit and passively absorb information is not an effective way for students to learn. A lot of students can repeat the laws of physics and even solve complex problems, but many are doing it through rote memorization. Most students who complete a standard physics class never understand what the laws of physics mean, or how to apply them to real-world situations.
Ten years from today, the classroom will be a place for active interaction. The role of the teacher will be that of a mentor or coach as opposed to a lecturer, test writer, and grader. The institutions that will remain relevant will be those that leverage this paradigm, not fight it.
Eric Mazur, a Harvard Physics teacher, became popular with his changing teaching methods – Two noteworthy problems exist when thinking about using the flipped classroom in higher education settings. Firstly, if video lectures drive the instruction, it is just a repackaging of a more traditional model of didactic learning. It is neither a new paradigm nor pedagogy of learning. Secondly, educators need to be re-educated as to what to do with the class time that previously was used for their lectures.

Repackaging Old Paradigms

Cathy Davidson noted in ‘Why Flip The Classroom When We Can Make It Do Cartwheels?’, “In some ways, the flipped model is an improvement, but it doesn’t come close to preparing students for the challenges of today’s world and workforce. It isn’t likely to change the world. Energized, connected, engaged, global, informed, dedicated, activist learning just might.  Transformative, connected knowledge isn’t a thing–it’s an action, an accomplishment, a connection that spins your world upside down, then sets you squarely on your feet, eager to whirl again. It’s a paradigm shift.”
Harvard Professor Chris Dede said in his Global Education 2011 keynote in response to a question directed about the flipped classroom, “I think that the flipped classroom is an interesting idea if you want to do learning that is largely based on presentation. It’s still starting with presentational learning and then trying to sprinkle some learning-by-doing on top of it.
A problem with flipping the classroom is that educators, who are used to and trained in using class time for lectures, do not know how to transition from a lecture-based classroom to one that includes more student-centred activities. A major roadblock or barrier to the implementation of this model is that many educators do not know what to do within the classroom, with that “whatever they want to do” time. For educators, who are used to and use the didactic model, a framework is needed to assist them with the implementation of the Flipped Classroom Professors stick with traditional approaches because they don’t know much about alternatives.”

The Experiential Flipped Classroom Model: Foundation

This section describes a model of flipped classroom learning that addresses the concerns discussed.
Basic Tenets: The tenets that drive The Experiential Flipped Classroom Model are:
  • Studentengagement through experiential activities is the key to learning.
  • Informal learning today is connected, instantaneous, and personalized with similar experiences in more formal learning environments.
  • Almost all content-related knowledge can be found online through videos, podcasts, and online interactives, and is more often better conveyed through these media than by classroom teachers.
  • Anyone with connections to the internet has access to high level, credible content.
  • Lectures in any form, face-to-face, videos, transcribed, or podcasts, should support learning not drive it nor be central to it.
  • A menu of learning acquisition and demonstration options should be provided throughout the learning cycle.
  • The educator becomes a facilitator and tour guide of learning possibilities – offering these possibilities to the learners and then getting out of the way.”

Experiential Learning Cycle

The Experiential Learning Cycle models emphasize that “good experiences” motivate, encourage, and enable students to go on to have more valuable learning experiences. There is relative freedom to go ahead in activity and “experience”, but the educator also commits to structuring other stages, usually involving some form of planning or reflection, so that “raw experience” is package with facilitated cognitive (usually) thinking about the experience.

Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle

David A. Kolb (with Roger Fry) created his famous experiential learning circle that involves (1) concrete experience followed by (2) observation and experience followed by (3) forming abstract concepts followed by (4) testing in new situations.
In the case of the flipped classroom, this is the time in the learning cycle when the learners view content-rich videos and learn abstract concepts related to the topic being covered. The role of the teacher, during this phase, is to offer the learners choices of video and related online content.
Teachers can also record their own lectures for student viewing. Free online courses by major universities also offer some materials that can be used to assist students in developing an understanding content-related knowledge.
Part of this phase can include an online chat for asking and addressing questions about the content presented via the videos, podcasts, websites.  Through online “chat” areas, learners can ask questions and post thoughts and opinions.   Responses can then be provided by co-learners and educators.

Meaning Making: The So What

The most powerful learning often happens when students self-monitor, or reflect. Learners can articulate and construct their understanding of the content or topic being covered through a variety of technology tools like blogs, voice and video blogs and social networking group pages.

Summary

The Flipped Classroom offers a great use of technology – especially if it gets lecture out of the classrooms and into the hands and control of the learners.  It is part of a larger picture of teaching and learning.  The Flipped Classroom videos have a place in the models and cycles of learning proposed by educational psychologists and instructional designers.  Providing educators with a full framework of how the Flipped Classroom can be used in their educational settings will increase its validity for educators and their administrators.