In classrooms across the world teachers are flipping, but not because they’re mad at the students.
The ‘flipped classroom’ is a learning model that’s getting popular because of the positive effects on students’ capability and confidence.
A range of studies in the US and beyond have demonstrated improvement in performance and exam grades for students learning under a flipped model. So what exactly is a flipped classroom? Traditionally, the classroom has been a lecture space, with a teacher defining concepts and students doing simple practice tasks. Students are assigned homework to get them to work on the concepts in more depth. Engaging with a subject at a deeper level (evaluating, analysing and so on) is more difficult for the learner, yet this is the part that the traditional model expects students to do alone, at home, without the teacher’s guidance.
Beginning from the end
The flipped classroom literally flips this model —‘homework’ comes first and the lecture is hosted later. Widespread access to technology has made this arrangement possible. The learner is asked to get an idea of the topic before coming to the class. This is often done through a video. In some courses, audio and reading texts are also used.
So what happens in the classroom thereafter? Having been introduced to the concept, the students come armed with knowledge. The class then becomes a place for conversation, collaboration and creation, with learners engaging with what they’ve learned at a deeper level, thus providing the opportunity for a better, richer comprehension of concepts. Students can be engaged in different tasks as per their own pace and level. The teacher becomes the facilitator, who uses classroom time to attend to the needs of individual learners.
Let’s take a look at how this works in practice. The Teacher Online Professional Development project (TOPDI) was run for government school teachers across India earlier this year. 571 primary and secondary teachers were offered a six-week online myEnglish course to help develop their English language skills.
In their online activities, participants studied language points and communication techniques through video, audio and text models with interactive practice exercises that could be taken repeatedly.
The participants took centre-stage and engaged in meaningful, practical language use with their trainer’s guidance and feedback. After all, who needs the practice more, the trainer or the learners?
Tick the positives
The course outcomes were very positive. Participants rated it at over 90 per cent for the acquisition of new knowledge and skills as well as for the individual attention they received. They spoke about how much they enjoyed communicating with each other in classroom activities and the positive effect of individual guidance from the teacher. In comparisons between their pre and post-course self-ratings across a range of English skills, there was a leap of over 20 per cent in how they rated their own skills in just six weeks.
—The writer is head, Blended Learning & Quality Standards, India, British Council