IPads in classrooms offer such a new learning environment that they demand a shift from the idea of students being passive receivers of learning and demand real engagement and learning ownership by the students themselves. However, even the original 90s design of the Flipped Classroom designed by pioneers like Eric Mazur is still teacher centred. Although students are individually watching the video lessons in their own time and at their own pace and then arrive in class with more specific questions, the approach is still driven by the teacher and focused on the linear course of study that the teacher designs to start at point A, travel through to point Z and then sit an exam in that specific content. This is the Flipped Classroom that receives attacks from teachers as just “lecturing in disguise.”
This original version of Flipped Classroom is an improvement on the one-size-fits-all traditional lecturing but does not encourage students to take full responsibility for their learning. It still demands that every student follow exactly the same linear path through fixed content and pushes the idea that to learn, you must follow your teacher.
This is not how I have Flipped or why I have Flipped.
I have all my teaching of both concepts and skills videoed so the students are free from a linear, fixed path and can get on with exploring larger projects of their own design, knowing everything is there when they might need it. The students work on at least month-long projects, which demand real-world focus and problem-solving. The students design their own projects within criteria that I design that keep expectations high. These projects, for example must be managed in a professional sense.
If I was an English teacher (from the quality of my writing, you can guess I’m not), I would video my teaching of writing techniques, themes, composition and writing narrative using examples etc. The students would then start writing and publishing online as quickly as possible. They receive informed feedback from their fellow students comparing elements with the examples in my videos. I could then just monitor the discussion both in the classroom and online. I would then point individual students to specific videos based on either their work or feedback, if I felt they didn’t understand an idea or skill. The students could then develop quality literature, poetry and articles and collate the work together in digital books, blogs or even publish to Amazon. This personalised approach makes writing seem more real and meaningful. Teamwork’s also made much more significant when students are in the driving seat.
Removing the traditional class teaching from the process is still important as it frees up time for both teacher and student, allowing everyone to get on with in-depth, creative projects that are driven by personal interests. Any exam or test material is covered by the videos and students can request one-to-one tutorials on lesser-understood topics if needed. My exam results are much improved whilst the students’ class time is much more engaging. I even allow the students to manage their own time and do not demand that they use their Computer Science 50 minute period to work on Computer Science. If they’ve got important physics work to do, they do it. They know when my project deadlines are and stick to them.
Flipped teaching is crucial in giving time back to the students to get on with more creative work but should not be seen as just simply a twist on the traditional teaching model. The student output should be of a high standard and should only reflect an understanding of the videos’ topics, not mirror them exactly. Specifically, no two students should ever produce the same output!
My version of Flipped is not a 20th Century teacher replacement but an opportunity for real 21st Century practice.