Inventing the Flipped Classroom
CONNECTED CL ASSROOM
T he Flipped Classroom is an instructional strategy that is receiving considerable attention. A flipped classroom dedicates
more class time to hands-on learning, replacing
lectures with supplemental materials, such as
screencasts and videos, that students can view
outside of class.
Thoughtful observers note that the effectiveness of this approach depends on the skill and
pedagogical strategies you use. You can’t magically transform an ineffective lecture by transferring it to video. Teachers are implementing
flipped classrooms in a variety of ways, and some
methods are more effective than others are.
Educational leaders such as Stanford, MIT,
and Harvard are now experimenting with variants of the flipped classroom. The crucial question is: How can we use this instructional paradigm to best effect?
ISTE book authors Jonathan Bergmann and
Aaron Sams, two high school science teachers
who pioneered the concept, are quick to note
that their use of the method is still evolving. They
observed that students who stalled on chemistry problems at home were not able to complete
subsequent problems until they received help at
school the next day. So Bergmann and Sams created more time for students to work on problems
during class by transferring their lectures to video.
A glimpse of the videos shows, however, that
these teachers are taking full advantage of the
medium to create instruction that goes far beyond chalk and a blackboard. One clip shows
them flying down a mountain on bikes to illustrate the effects of altitude and atmospheric
pressure on a balloon. In another clip, a graph
illustrates the effect of a chemical reaction.
By working together, the two teachers had
more time to create innovative instructional materials that they could use in both of their classes.
ISTE has just published their book, Flip Your
Classroom, which describes their approach, and
additional information is available on their website, http://flippedlearning.org.
Daphne Koller, a Stanford professor experimenting with the flipped classroom, developed
an online platform called Coursera in partnership with another Stanford professor. Coursera
embeds short quizzes in videos to test student
understanding before continuing to the next
segment. She found that classroom attendance
doubled when she used class time for group
problem-solving sessions instead of lectures.
As an added bonus, the interactive video
materials created for Coursera are freely
available to anyone at www.coursera.com.
Most teachers are familiar with TED talks,
short videos presented by leaders in the fields
of technology, entertainment, and design (TED).
Inspired by innovation centered on flipped
classrooms, TED’s educational division, TED-Ed, developed tools to support this instructional
method. The TED-Ed flipped classroom tools
(available at http://ed.ted.com) allow teachers
to create customized lessons using online videos. The tools allow teachers to add context,
questions, and supplementary materials for use
with either their own videos or video available
on sites such as You Tube. Classroom management tools allow a teacher to see which students
have viewed a video and each student’s success
in answering related questions.
The phrase flipped classroom has encouraged dissemination of the concept because it is
short and memorable. However, it also has
resulted in some misconceptions about the
method. The term flip implies an all-or-nothing
reversal, but that is not the case for the flipped
classroom. A central goal is to provide more
time for interactions with students in class.
Teachers can do this in a variety of ways and
with different degrees of adoption, ranging from
just a few class sessions a year to a complete re-conceptualization of a course. The way a flipped
classroom may be most effective depends on the
context of a class, so there is not a single flipped
classroom method. Use and adoption depends
on the instructor.
Digital equity is one issue that educators must address during implementation of flipped classrooms.