A Description of Flipped Learning

Question: This year, my daughter's high school history teacher is using what he calls "Flipped Learning." Now her homework is just looking at videos. Can you tell me if this is a sound educational practice? -- Unsure

Answer: Flipped learning is a different form of learning. It is a hands-on approach to improving student achievement and involving them more in their own education. A flipped classroom can be a very sound educational practice.

A flipped classroom is an entry into blended learning. In blended learning, part of the traditional face-to-face instruction is replaced by Web-based online learning.

Basically, what flipped learning does is reverse traditional teaching methods that have teachers lecturing on a topic and giving homework to reinforce what is taught in the classroom. In flipped learning, students get this instruction online at home through short videos. Then, in the classroom, they will do what was previously done as homework. This could include doing exercises, projects or group discussions.

Naturally, as with anything new, there are both pros and cons to flipped classroom instruction. Here are some of the arguments on both sides. First the pros:

  • -Students have more time in the classroom to interact with their teachers.
  • -Classroom time is now more active than passive, thus more engaging for students.
  • -Teachers can use class time to help individual students with difficult concepts.
  • -Teachers are able to make learning more personalized. All students will not need to watch the same videos.
  • -Students have more control over their learning. Videos and parts of videos can be played and replayed until students understand a lesson.
  • -Students can write down questions to discuss with their teachers or other students in their class about things that are unclear.
  • -Parents are able to know what is going on in classrooms by watching the videos and can provide appropriate support.
  • -If students miss a day of school, they have not missed the lecture information.
  • -Flipped learning also means instruction does not stop when teachers miss a day of school.

Of course, there are drawbacks to flipped learning, including:

  • -Listening to the instructional videos is homework, which students may or may not do.
  • -There is an extra workload in the beginning for the teachers, who must create, find video materials and upload lectures, which takes both time and skill.
  • -Teachers then must do preparation for presenting the classroom projects, assignments and discussions.
  • -Flipped learning is not naturally a test-prep form of learning.
  • -All students need easy access to videos.