What IS the Flipped Class?

Recently I received an email from one of my readers and he noted that nowhere on my blog have I talked about what a flipped classroom IS.  I have been recently been writing about what it isn’t, but haven’t clearly defined it in a positive light. Hopefully this post will clear this up.  

I think one of the reasons I have not done this is that the definition of a flipped class is somewhat slippery.  You see there is no ONE way to flip a class and in this lies one of the great strengths of this methodology.  

When Aaron Sams and I started has become known as the flipped class in 2007 we did what Aaron and I now call Flipped Class 101.  In this model, the teacher creates (or uses others) videos which students watch at home.  And then some of the class time is used to help students with what used to be homework.  As science teachers, we still did labs and other hands on activities we had always done.  We substituted the problem work time with the lecture.  This was an synchronous environment where all students watched the same videos on the same night and all did the same activities on the next day.  

But then….
We moved to what we now call Flipped Class 201.  In this asynchronous model, students work through the content at their own pace and don’t move on until the reach mastery of each unit.  

And then…
We met others who started with Flipped Class 101 and then moved to Flipped-Mastery (201).  But then others didn’t focus on mastery, but rather other deeper learning strategies/pedagogies such as problem or project based learning, inquiry, challenge based learning, etc.

So….What is the Flipped Class?
Well, instead of calling it the flipped class, I now think of it as flipped learning.  All this said and I think their are a few key unifying themes of flipped learning:

  • Flipped Learning transfers the ownership of the learning to the students.
  • Flipped Learning personalizes learning for all students
  • Flipped Learning gives teachers time to explore deeper learning opportunities and pedagogies with their students (PBL, CBL, UDL, Mastery, Inquiry, etc)
  • Flipped Learning makes learning (not teaching) the center of the classroom.  
  • Flipped Learning maximizes the face to face time in the classroom.


Now–is that clear?

12 Responses

  1. I like how it became flipped learning instead of flipped class. The two ways to define it were different so to have the bullets at the end make since and helps. The idea is different and I wounder if this learning works out in the long run. To me, since I am a student, it seems like it would help out. I like to be able to completely understand something before I move on to something new. Taking tests on information that I am not completely sure on isn’t going to help me.

  2. Seems like the key concept is the first – transferring ownership of learning to the students – and that all the other concepts follow. I’d be interested in a couple of things. First what is the role of parents in creating a learning environment in home that facilitates this style, one which may be very different than the teaching philosophy which they themselves came up with. And second: the size of the teacher workforce in the United States is vast – over three million I believe. Sustainable, transformative change has to be universally applicable by our current teaching workforce. Is this an approach that plays everywhere?

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