The Flipped Classroom model is certainly making waves within the hallways of our schools. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of the Flipped Classroom, the basic premise is that we replace a more traditional lecture teaching format with one where we encourage our students to access learning materials externally via digital outlets and instead utilize classroom time for individual and small group more focused teaching based on real time needs.
The Flipped Classroom is a very modern idea and in large part it has been only through the introduction of new technologies (such as online video sharing) that the model was originally even feasible. Of course today (mind you, yesterday was only a few years ago…) technology has advanced considerably and while video alone is certainly a huge value to the Flipped Classroom model, here at Why Science we are taking this concept to the next level and introducing our latest STEM learning effort – Poly & Mer: a interactive online blended learning platform that utilizes video while also encouraging a very active participation of our students – all under the umbrella of the Flipped Classroom.
As a result of our own expertise in this space, we have made a number of observations that we would like to share with you.
The first observation is that an effective Flipped Classroom model is still heavily dependent on having access to great teachers. The video screen is not meant to replace the teacher and in no way does it. For those hoping that somehow a Flipped Classroom model will alleviate the need for great teachers we hate to shatter your hopes.
The simple fact is, great teachers are priceless, no matter what teaching methodologies you employ including the Flipped Classroom.
The second is that simply being a great teacher is not enough. The Flipped Classroom requires a broad level of initial training. Teaching in a Flipped Classroom is not the same as teaching in a traditional lecture structure. There is still a massive need for ongoing teacher training.
At Why Science we have been fortunate to have brought in a number of educators to help us with our product and the need to provide teachers with training was something we identified early – the result is Poly & Mer offers our students a rich environment to learn in, but we also provide our teachers with a separate set of modules specifically geared towards aiding them in the efforts to maximize our modules and also to help train them on specific items related to each module with an added emphasis on how best to facilitate learning within a Flipped Classroom.
The third observation we’d like to share is that the media you deploy in a flipped model matters. Students are smart. Students are also sophisticated online web video connoisseurs – their eyes are sharp and their tastes are much more evolved than you might initially realize. Make sure that as you are creating your viewing assets and material that you are very aware of this – if you lose your students at this level, then the ability to provide that critical one-on-one needs based teaching will be lost as your students will no longer be engaged. This of course comes back to having great teachers. At Why Science it was in fact our desire to be great teachers that formed the genesis of our company and it is still this desire for our team and our platform to be a great teaching tool that is the bedrock of our company.
For teachers creating their own media assets, the need for compelling content is no less critical. Of course by going that extra mile and creating really compelling content, as an educator you are naturally going to be that much more in command of your material and during the in-class portion of the Flipped classroom, as a result of your familiarity with your own materials, your one-on-one time with your students will be that much more focused.
And so while we can talk for hours about the need for great technology (and in fact that need really addresses one of the core areas of Why Science) the truth the only way this, or for that matter any teaching model really works is by having amazing teachers on hand to help our students to be engaged with the entire process of learning.
Flipped Classroom Resources:
- What is the Flipped Classroom (a very well done inforgraphic)
- How the Flipped Classroom Is Radically Transforming Learning by Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams – these gentlemen are widely credited with inventing the concept of the Flipped Classroom
- Flipped-Learning.com, the personal blog/website of Jon Bergmann
- Flipped Classroom on Wikipedia