Flipped Classroom Improves Learning

Source: NYTimes, Oct 2013
Like everything disruptive, online education is highly controversial. But the flipped classroom is a strategy that nearly everyone agrees on. “It’s the only thing I write about as having broad positive agreement,” said Justin Reich, a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard who studies technology and education.

Flipping a classroom changes several things. One is what students do at home. At first, teachers assigned 20-minute videos, but they now make them shorter — six minutes, even three minutes. That promotes re-watching. The school also uses audio files and readings as homework, and uses videos from the Khan Academy, TED and other sources. Many students do not ask questions in class, worried they will look dumb. But they can watch a video over and over without fear.

“Whenever I had a problem on the homework, I couldn’t do anything about it at home,” said Luwayne Harris, a senior. “Now if I have a problem with a video, I can just rewind and watch it over and over again.”

This is the second and far more important shift that comes with flipped classrooms: it frees up class time for hands-on work. Students learn by doing and asking questions — school shouldn’t be a spectator sport. ”A lot of people think it just has to do with technology,” said Kim Spriggs, who teaches business and marketing. “It’s actually more time for kids to do higher-order thinking and hands-on projects.

Instead of presenting the information in class and having students work on projects at home, where they don’t necessarily have support, here in class, one-on-one or in small groups, I can help them immediately.” Students can also help each other, a process that benefits both the advanced and less advanced learners.

Flipping also changes the distribution of teacher time. In a traditional class, the teacher engages with the students who ask questions — but it’s those who don’t ask who tend to need the most attention. “We refer to ‘silent failers,’ ” said Spriggs. “Now it’s a lot harder for students to hide.

The teacher can see pretty much where every student’s understanding is and how to help them. It’s a huge difference for students who didn’t seek out extra help and attention — who just sit back and keep silent.”

Flipped classrooms require more creativity and energy from the teacher.

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