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Flipped Learning: What is it?

Education and the way it’s done has surely changed over time. With the advent of new tools and techniques, educators have always been on the lookout for the next best way to engage their students and make the most out of their class environments. In more recent years, the development of tools such as technology has paved the way for a new approach to learning.

Flipped Learning: What Is It?

As its name would suggest, the concept of flipped learning centers largely around the idea of reversing frameworks of traditional instruction. The system works as a sort of inverse to the typical learning process, in which students are put through a blended model that supports their individual experience and comprehension.

Many people are familiar with the protocol of generic classrooms. The teacher introduces a new topic, provides instruction on the matter, and then assigns homework and assignments to reinforce what they’ve taught. Flipped learning is the near opposite of this, where students are made to interact with new materials and lessons prior to being exposed to them in the classroom setting. Usually, a teacher will prerecord or prepare a lesson or lecture for students to go through at home, and then provide students an opportunity to work through it as they would on conventional homework assignments during class time.

This allows students to work through problems and better understand the content before coming to class, where they can then ask questions, engage in discussion and get help from their peers and the teacher. The switch allows teachers to reallocate the time they have with their students, swapping out in-class instruction for time to engage in hands-on work. It positions educators to have more of a guidance role in the learning process as opposed to being responsible for front-loading all the information.

A Breakdown Of The Benefits

The flipped learning model has the capacity to yield incredible results for both students and educators.

Time optimization:

One of the most commonly cited benefits of flipped learning is the way it optimizes time for both students and educators. In a traditional classroom setting, teachers are often required to spend time delivering instruction on new material before students are able to engage in hands-on activities. With flipped learning, this process is reversed, so that students are working on activities during class time, and the teacher is available to provide guidance and support as needed. This shift in responsibility allows educators to make the most of their time with students and ultimately results in a more efficient learning experience for everyone involved.

Increased engagement:

Another common benefit of flipped learning is increased student engagement and retention. In a traditional classroom setting, it can be easy for students to tune out or become disengaged during lectures. The flipped learning model, however, encourages students to be proactive in their learning by requiring them to engage with new material before coming to class. This increased engagement often leads to a deeper understanding of the material and improved retention rates.

Development of independent learning capacity:

One of the most valuable outcomes of flipped learning is the development of independent learning capacity in students. With a traditional classroom setting, it can be difficult for students to take the initiative to learn on their own. The flipped learning model, however, encourages students to become self-sufficient learners by requiring them to seek out information and complete assignments on their own time. This independence often leads to a greater motivation to learn and continued success in future academic endeavors.

When Is Flipped Learning Most Effective?

While flipped learning is a comprehensive and powerful approach to teaching, it can be more beneficial in some applications than others. What the strategy’s effectiveness really comes down to is the given classroom, material, and circumstances at hand, as well as how seamlessly the system can be integrated into existing practices.
Some factors that can have a role in determining the effectiveness of the flipped learning approach include the following.

Classroom Accessibility And Attendance

A major consideration to make when implementing the flipped learning framework is how it speaks to the class at hand’s ability to take advantage of lectures within the classroom. In some cases, flipped learning can be extremely beneficial to students who require flexibility and cannot always make it to formal lessons. Alternatively, methods such as digital lectures can also become a barrier to some learners, as not everyone has access to the tools and resources needed to partake in them.

Time And Capacity For Preparation

Another important factor for teachers in determining the value of the flipped learning structure is how realistically they can administer it. Due to the fact that the approach asks educators to design and prepare digital lectures and materials, it can be quite time intensive. This is only compounded by the fact that these lectures need to be updated on a regular basis to ensure students are getting the most relevant and up-to-date information possible.

Quality Of Instructional Materials

Of course, a flipped approach is more appropriate for some classrooms and programs than others. In one way, many educators find benefit in a setup that allows them to optimize their time with students and allow them to reap the value of hands-on, engaged work. In another, some classes and programs can find this less beneficial, especially in cases where preparation for things like tests and exams is a priority. Because flipped learning follows an unconventional approach to instruction, it’s often not best for cases in which students need the type of learning and review that prepares them for high standardized test scores.

Is Flipped Learning Better Than Lecture-Based Learning?

As already alluded to, flipped learning is a powerful educational technique that can hold a lot of value in its effectiveness and benefits to students. It is also, however, a system that follows a unique structure, which is not always the best solution for every classroom and program.
Research has shown flipped learning to be extremely effective across a range of applications and disciplines. In a variety of use cases, flipped learning is indeed just as good if not more impactful than traditional lecture-based instruction. It gives students a chance to make the most out of their time in class, and to have the best opportunity possible to engage, ask questions and build off of what they know. In this way, flipped learning is great for supporting subjects that require and work off of intrapersonal and interpersonal interactions such as health, language, and social science courses.

Alternatively, flipped learning can also be less effective than lecture-based learning when applied in other disciplines. Technical and analytics-based courses such as mathematics and engineering, for example, receive less value from hands-on learning than they do from straightforward instruction and review.

Implementing The Flipped Learning Framework

While not the exact same for every case, the process of instituting a flipped learning model will follow a similar structure for most classrooms. This involves the following phases.

Deciding On Tools And Technology

Flipped learning can be administered through a variety of tools and resources, and the decision of which to use is an important one to take into consideration. In order to make the most out of their lessons and provide as much as an engaging environment as possible, teachers are best suited to select technologies and platforms that will allow their class to actively access and benefit from instructional content. This means selecting tools for recording and editing video, sharing it, as well as streamlining its administration throughout a course. Learning Management Systems are a great place to start, as they’re designed specifically for this purpose.

Creating Content

The instructional content that’s shared with students in a flipped learning environment is pivotal to the system’s ultimate success. In many ways, what student comprehension and benefit will come down to is how easily they’re able to access and understand these materials. With this in mind, it’s essential for educators to take a strategic approach to the way they structure and record these lessons, so as to make them as understandable as possible. This is best done in the form of short yet concise videos, which get straight to the point in outlining the key points and concepts of lectures.

Being Consistent

One of the most important factors in effectively administering the flipped learning approach is consistency. This can be a challenge for some educators and in select cases the reason why they feel they can’t use the strategy. Flipped learning requires dedicated time and effort on behalf of teachers in order to be successful, where tasks like planning lessons and recording lectures are the centerpiece of the program. The key to doing this well is through a scheduled approach, in which time is allocated for this work and becomes routine. This is essential, as any lapse in program quality or consistency can mean disengaged students and less effective results.

How Can You Design An Effective Flipped Course?

The best way to design a flipped course is by compensating for the framework’s weaknesses by building off of its strengths. It’s important to know exactly what pitfalls and barriers students face in flipped learning in order to mitigate them effectively and to bolster the overall experience through where this instructional model shines the most.
Some tips for designing an effective flipped course include the following.

Make use of existing resources: take advantage of online lectures and instructional materials that are available for free or cheap. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to your lecture content, and using ready-made materials can save you a lot of time and hassle.
Keep content fresh: one of the main downsides to flipped learning is that it requires a lot of preparation, including creating and updating lectures. However, this can be easily managed if you make a schedule for content creation and stick to it.

Plan class time wisely: one of the key benefits of flipped learning is that it allows you to make the most of your time with students. Plan activities and exercises that are engaging and interactive, and focus on things like small group work and discussions.

Consider using a hybrid approach: a great way to incorporate the best of both worlds is to use a hybrid approach, which combines elements of both lecture-based and flipped learning. This can be especially effective in cases where some subjects benefit more from one approach than the other.

By readily identifying issues such as time for the preparation of materials, organizational challenges, and barriers to access, teachers can address the potential downsides their classes may face in the approach, and reap the most benefit possible from it as a result.

Flipped learning is a powerful educational tool that can hold a lot of value for students and educators alike. When designed effectively, it can be just as good as traditional lecture-based instruction, if not better.

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