As teachers, we are always looking for different ways to engage our students in learning. We know that when our students are in control of their learning, they are more engaged, take ownership and this generally means growth. Flipped learning is a proven way to give ownership of learning to your students, along with many other benefits that can make your day-to-day teaching an excellent experience.
What is Flipped Learning?
Flipped learning is an approach to teaching where much of the content is delivered outside of normal classroom time. Topic information and thought provoking stimulus is delivered, generally through the use of an online learning system or digital collaboration space prior to class time. The advantage is that by exposing students to content before class, it frees up time in class to analyse and apply that knowledge through discussion and collaboration. And if it is well planned, students also have the opportunity to consolidate learning through creating, evaluating and reflecting after the face-to-face lesson.
At this point, you’re probably thinking ‘well isn’t that just homework?’ Well, yes and no. It is a continuous and intentional learning experience regardless of where students are. And each unit of work can be structured differently to include more in class time or more time outside of the traditional classroom setting. It is a good idea to think about how your lesson flow might look and function. We have included lesson flow examples in our free Flipped Learning resources.
Exposing your students to some of the content before class and giving them time to generate ideas or pose deeper questions, means you can spend more time facilitating group discussion or activities. The pre-class thinking time your students have had, allows you to get straight down to business when you’re face-to-face. And while they are collaborating, creating and applying, you can be conversing, conferencing and assessing (a.k.a. living the teacher dream).
Aside from the increased engagement in learning, making the learning and resources readily available, gives students a choice about when they learn (within reason) and allows them to get into the ‘flow’ when it best suits them. There is also the added benefit that students can revisit the content as many times as they need to develop understanding or complete a task.
This open learning model encourages independent thinking, organisation, time management and responsibility. All pretty handy traits for school life and beyond.
Ok, So Where Do I Start?
Flipped learning will not just magically happen (I know… I’ve tried it). Unless you are intentional about how your students learn, the idea of flipped learning is no more than just a great idea. You, the teacher, need to be the architect of your students flipped learning experience.
I like to call this pedagogical architecture. The learning inside and outside of the classroom setting, needs to flow and make sense to students or it will be stressful, confusing and unproductive.
Students need to be taught how to access and digest content using whichever online system you have chosen. Don’t underestimate the need to ‘practice’ flipped learning before you and your students dive in. Expectations need to be clear and concise. Most importantly, students need to know how to access help and how to check in during flipped learning – it is not just ‘set and forget’.
A flipped learning planning template can be a really useful way of mapping out what you want to achieve and how to make it happen. It will allow you to develop the resources you need and understand the formative and summative assessment checkpoints along the way.
Using a planning framework is also important for establishing learning goals and success criteria for you to share with your students. Knowing where you and your students are heading is always important
How do you choose a flipped learning platform?
Many schools have access to a variety of online learning platforms. From Google, Office 365 to a wide range of Learning Management Systems, there are many ways to deliver online content. Regardless of which road you choose to go down, ensure it does what you need with minimal fuss and barriers.
At a basic level, emailing can allow you to pose questions, send links and attach/receive images or documents. If it does the job and it’s easy to use, then use it. Remember, it is not about the system, it is about the pedagogy.
What else do I need?
Delivering content online requires a different approach to in-class teaching. This means you will have to leverage tools such as wikis, blogs, quizzes, checklists, online submissions, forums and embedding video, audio and images. Each of these is very powerful, but can take some time to master so ease into by trying one at a time.
To get you started with elearning tools, we’ve put together a guide on how some of these powerful tools can benefit you and your students as part of a flipped learning model. You can download it here.
Give It a Go
Flipped learning can be a great alternative to traditional modes of teaching and learning. With practice and preparation, student engagement, collaboration and increased formative assessment opportunities are among the many benefits to giving flipped learning a go in your classroom.