Structural or Transformational?

We’ve been doing some research on the flipped classroom concept lately. While it’s not exactly a new idea, it seems to have gained momentum recently and has many parallels to our model of getting learning right the first time. In a nutshell, a flipped classroom is where students watch and listen to lectures as their homework and then use classroom time to tackle difficult problems, work together in groups, research and create. One of the advantages is that students have more control over the content when presented this way. Difficult concepts or areas of particular interest are more easily accessed and reviewed than is possible in a traditional classroom lecture.

While flipping the classroom sounds like a radical idea, what is really potentially transformational about it is not the viewing of lectures outside of class but rather what is done with the extra class time that is gained from this model. Jackie Gerstein in her blog User Generated Education provides excellent background  on flipped classrooms as well as a model of incorporating it into a new cycle of learning (The Flipped Classroom Model: A New Picture) that mirrors many of the facets of personalized learning that we feel are so critical to getting learning right the first time.

In other words, a flipped classroom by itself is really just a structural change, similar to block scheduling or a longer school day. Without actual changes to teaching and learning, the end result will not be fundamentally altered. However, when used as part of a personalized cycle of learning, flipping the classroom may help all students to achieve subject mastery, in the way and at the pace that works best for them. Knewton Adaptive Learning Platform™ developed an infographic that lays out the history and potential of the flipped classroom structure when incorporated as part of a larger change to teaching and learning.

Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams, science teachers at Woodland Park High School in Woodland Park, Colorado, are considered pioneers in this area and have been utilizing this model since 2007. They have a website and a social networking site devoted to flipped classrooms and mastery learning. Check out their videos (The Flipped Classroom and Flipped-Mastery Classroom) for interesting insights on how to implement a flipped classroom at your school.

We are interested in what you think of this concept and its potential to transform teaching and learning. Please share your thoughts on our Facebook page or leave a comment here.

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