The flipped classroom and flipped learning experiences
Increasing and varied technologies within the current environment of teaching and learning have turned the attention of many educators to the idea of the flipped classroom and flipped learning experiences. There persists, however, very different notions of what it means to facilitate “flipped” sessions.
A prevailing idea of flipped learning experiences has instructors simply creating video or other multimedia content, uploading it to a course web space for students to “consume” outside of class, then students return to the classroom to complete assignments and work through problem sets. This model of “flipping” does indeed substitute lecture-instruction and homework for each other, presumably freeing instructors to support students completing assignments and preparing for exams. With schools under heavy scrutiny and assessment and measurement being the primary concern, it is understandable that “flipping” this way is popular. Unfortunately for students, this model does little to encourage or support learning.
A flipped learning experience, when imagined more thoughtfully, does offer the opportunity for learners to be more engaged with and demonstrate mastery of course material by applying knowledge rather than simply absorbing information. Considering the learning objectives of any given course or sections within a course an instructor can organize them from basic to more advanced by levels of complexity. This allows for students to tackle less complex ideas and issues outside of class on their own, then build on that knowledge and address more complex ideas within the social environment of the classroom. Doing this does require thoughtfulness and flexibility by the instructor because it may mean re-ordering content and materials from how it is presented in a text to allow learners the space to develop their thinking. This reordering makes it so that instructors can create more meaningful video and multimedia content for students to access outside of class and provide a structure so that in-class sessions can be rich with topical discussions and activities.
Flipping sections or an entire course in a purposeful and intentional way affords learners very rich opportunities to think and develop ideas in ways that are personal, meaningful, and applicable to their worlds. This is learning!