The Flipped Class as a Transition to Deep 21st Century Learning

I have been thinking a lot lately about where flipped learning fits into the whole educational reform movement.  What place does flipped learning have in this movement?  We have learned a great deal about learning in the recent past, but sadly much of that research doesn’t get into actual classrooms.  Why is that?

First, a little background on educational research:  Research suggests that mastery learning, problem based learning (PBL), inquiry learning, hands-on learning, and many other learning practices increase student engagement and performance.  But in many classes, teachers are not using these learning strategies.

How does flipped learning fit encourage research based best practices?  I see flipped learning as a transitional pedagogy/technique.  We are transitioning from the old industrial model of education to the learner centered, active class of the future.  But, if you asked a teacher who has been lecturing for twenty years to teach completely using PBL or inquiry, he/she will not be able to make the jump.  It is too big of a change.  But if you tell the same teacher they only need to record their present lessons, and make those available to their students, this is not such a big leap. 

This crystalized for me when I visited Justyna Kalinoska’s class here at my school.  I introduced the flipped class this past fall to my staff and Justyna, a seventh grade math teacher, jumped on board.  She spent the first part of the year focusing in on making the videos.  But now when you visit her class you see the students doing more than solving for x.  They are creating content, making their own videos, and presenting their learning to classmates.  It is now an active, engaged, hub of learning. 

Then I noted, that her progression was similar to mine.  Aaron Sams and I started flipping our classes in 2006-2007 we too started by focusing on the videos.  After one year we began to re-think what activities we did in class with kids. 

This has led me to think that there is a natural progression for many flipped class teachers.  Some teachers take three years to get to step three and we have observed some crazy people who can get to step three in a few months.  These folks typically have no kids, no life, and are incredibly motivated.  Note that Aaron and I took three years to get to step three (we are slower learners I guess).

The Progression:

1.     Teacher Flips a lesson or a unit and find it to be successful

2.     Teacher decides to flip the whole class

a.     (At least at the upper grades.  At the lower grades I don’t see teachers flipping a class, but rather, flipping selected lessons). 

b.     Often this step takes an entire year as the teacher needs to focus in on making the videos—assuming they make all of their own videos.

3.     Teacher realizes they have more time and begin to explore engaging activities.  This is where the magic of the flipped class happens.  When the teacher moves away from the stand and deliver approach and realize there is more to learning than disseminating content. 

And it is in step three where the teachers customize flipped learning.  This is where they make it their own, where they become experienced flipped class teachers.  And it is in this stage which where the deep benefits of the flipped class begin and where we see classes transition from the old industrial model to the active and engaged centers of learning.


17 Responses

  1. Delia Bush

    I am hovering on step 2 right now, and really wanting to get to step 3…This year has shown quite a change in my teaching, and now I'm trying to wrap my head around how to make my class time the most beneficial.

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  3. Miss Nichols

    It would be great to see some examples of step 3.  Is there a resource bank of classroom activities somewhere?  I don't see how a class can be flipped until you have worthwhile, interactive learning experiences going on in the classroom.  What are students doing in the meantime (year 1 or 2) while the teacher is figuring things out?

    1. This is a great question. And there is no “right” answer. There are many answers. This is where teachers need to figure out best practices for flipped learning. That said and our flipped class conference this summer will feature 24 different flippers who have answered this question in their own unique way. We hope to eventually develop more and more resources which help teachers answer this question. But I think the answers are already there. They are backed by research and by best practices that have been out there for years. This just provides a gateway to getting to those best practices. See the blog post here where a teacher describes her journey. http://flipperteach.wordpress.com/2012/05/13/excuse-me-i-think-i-am-having-a-revolution/

  4. Laura

    I seem to be between steps 2 and 3 sort of.  I have tried to narrate my "lecture" PPT, saving it at brainshark.com  as I know nothing of editing video just yet.  The use of the additional time is not a problem though as I am working on incorporating menus into each unit that I flip.  Laurie Westphal has written several books on menus that I found on Amazon.  None are high school level, but they are easily adapted.  A great source for additional activities!

  5. Thank you so much up front for putting together the community of teachers and such a great support system for those interested in pedagogical change.  Working on these methods at the university level in engineering courses, so should be interesting.  I wanted to post some great work done in the Physics education realm done at CU on adopting pedagogical innovations in the classroom.  Thought it may provide some sound research support on your post above.
    1) "A Thoughtful Approach to Instruction: Course Transformation for the Rest of Us"
    By Stephanie V. Chasteen, Katherine K. Perkins, Paul D. Beale, Steven J. Pollock, and Carl E. Wieman
    2) "Pedagogical practices and instructional change of physics faculty" by Melissa Dancy and Charles Henderson Am. J. Phys. 78 10, October 2010
    3) "Barriers to the use of research-based instructional strategies: The influence of both individual and situational characteristics" by Melissa Dancy and Charles Henderson DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.3.020102
    Also check out Stephanie Chasteens blog on Active learning (www.theactiveclass) that also provides some great ideas, discussions, etc. on the other tools needed to successfully flip a class.
    Thanks again. And if people dont know about the new TED-ED platform….have to check it out. I think I found it because of your site, so thanks.

  6. I've just started out on the Flipped journey and have come to my first hurdle–the time it takes to produce all of my own videos and the lack of resources out there. I'm also wondering whether the videos are even necessary or if they are merely a crutch for my lack of letting go of control.  Those of you farther down the journey, are you still dependent on the videos?  Also, anyone know of grammar videos available similar to the the Khan Academy videos?

  7. Stew King

    I haven't completely bought into flipping, yet. My fear is that students will not pre-learn by watching at home, thus leading me to re-teaching the next day and right back to the current situation. Can you point me to some videos, documents, etc that addresses that point?
    Stew King

    1. I think one of the big mistatkes people make when flipping is to rescue kids who don’t do the HW. This discourages those that did and encourages those that didn’t. It is a hard balance. I would encourage you to flip one lesson and see how it goes. And then don’t rescue those who didn’t do the HW. We had 2 computers in the back of the room and students who didn’t watch the video had to go to the back and watch it while the others did the activity/work of the day. This became homework for those that didn’t watch the videos. They essentially had a “normal” class–direct instruction on the day and HW at home.

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  9. So I’m at step 1 (or trying to get to step 2 for next year). Like all of the blogs and Twitter feeds I’m getting, I’m feeling overwhelmed, but I’m sure I am ready to take the first steps on the journey.
    How sure, I dropped one of my graduate classes this summer to have the time to start recording videos for my students. Tomorrow I’m off to see about getting my software and microphone ASAP, I’ve got work to do so my students can learn, and not who, what, when, and where, but WHY? Why are these facts important…today? How are they relevant in my students’ lives? How can I get them to figure it out on their own?
    Wish me luck, persistence and faith in this endeavor to make learning better and more meaningful for those that count, my students.

  10. Pingback : Going for the Flip… | pgpulley

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