Kelly Hollis

How Flipped Classroom Practices Came Into Their Own in 2020

In a year of sudden change, it was the humble classroom that experienced one of the biggest. But, with 2021 on the horizon, who says we can’t stop evolving?

 

2020 has definitely been a year like no other in recent history. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the landscape of many facets of our lives and, in particular, education has been an area that has changed significantly in such a short period of time.

With governments around the world introducing mandatory lockdowns to try to limit the spread, teachers and students needed to shift from a face-to-face model of teaching and learning to a remote classroom, where technology was harnessed to ensure that students were not missing out on their education.

The use of technology was an essential way to navigate the landscape as it changed rapidly from day-to-day. Many teachers around the world were needing to explore tools and pedagogies that they had not employed in their “normal” classrooms and there was a steep learning curve for everyone involved from the students to the teachers and even parents.

 

The Flipped Classroom Model of Learning

The flipped classroom was one pedagogical approach that was employed by educators in order to help their students to cover the content that they needed to while learning remotely. Usually, the flipped classroom involves students learning content independently before coming to class to conduct higher-order activities with the support of their teacher.

During the periods of remote learning, teachers were using the same kind of techniques with their students by sharing resources with them to explore asynchronously before coming to a synchronous learning environment via video conferencing tools such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meet.

In this particular scenario, students independently complete work that is assigned by their teacher. This can take the form of a lecture-style video where the teacher explains a concept, a prescribed reading, or an activity such as an Education Perfect lesson. These activities should be quite scaffolded and allow the students to navigate their way through the content confidently, while having opportunities to assess their understanding through questions.

 

Benefits of Flipped Learning

The asynchronous nature of the work that students are required to complete means that they are able to do this at a time that suits them and, if needed, they are able to spread the activity over an extended period of time. This was particularly important during complete lockdowns when multiple children and their parents may have been trying to divide time spent on devices between them as they did not have enough for each person to exclusively work on at any time.

Asynchronous learning, such as the flipped classroom, also allows students to take the time they may need to be able to feel confident with the work. Students are able to revisit the content as many times as needed and take their time, potentially searching for further information or definitions of terms that they may need clarification with.

Some of the other benefits of implementing the flipped learning approach can include:

Adapting to the learning diversity of the classroom: each approach allows students to move at their own pace with the teacher being able to spend more time with those students who require more assistance. Also, students who are confident and comfortable with the content are able to explore the learning material in a deeper way and begin to extend themselves.

Classrooms can become more active spaces: because students are engaging in a wider range of activities, classrooms no longer become the passive space where students sit and listen to a teacher lecturing for an extended period of time. Students are able to engage in group tasks, discussions, and project work that involves the students needing to be a more active participant in their learning.

Reducing costs for schools: through the use of technology, schools can reduce other costs such as photocopying and textbook supplies. Teachers can also harness technology to provide students with experiences that they may not otherwise have had access to, such as advanced simulations and virtual excursions.

 

Enabling Tools for Flipped Learning

Some may question how synchronous lessons can take place in a remote learning situation that requires the students to work on applying the content they’ve learned in the asynchronous task with higher-order activities. Some of the tools mentioned above allow for educators to explore a number of different approaches to synchronous classes.

In particular, Zoom provides an option allowing students to be placed into “breakout rooms” where they can complete group activities, share ideas, and dive deeper into the content together. Collaboration tools like Padlet allow students to share their thoughts and have them critiqued by their peers, while the applications that come as part of the Google Suite allow students to work together on a whole range of activities, allowing them to create, research, and share their knowledge.

 

Flipped Is the New Normal

As classrooms have returned to “normal” and students are present for face-to-face sessions, it’s important that teachers take advantage of the skills that both they and their students have developed through this remote learning experience.

Incorporating the flipped classroom into a face-to-face model of teaching and learning will allow students to engage more collaboratively, while providing teachers with the opportunity to truly support each individual within the classroom.

While the theory of the flipped classroom is sound and easy to understand, it was only when I put the model into practice that I could truly appreciate its benefits.

When I was teaching, like with many pedagogical innovations, the benefits I discovered could only be appreciated once I put the model into practice. As you prepare for the first term in 2021, I urge you to consider how you can test and learn with a flipped-classroom approach, either through the use of technology or non-digital teaching materials. It will take some time before both you and your students are used to the approach, so, stick with it for an appropriate amount to validate its benefits.

 

More information about EP and its uses can be found by visiting the website, www.educationperfect.com.

 

Kelly Hollis

Kelly Hollis is a qualified Science teacher with a Masters in Educational Technology. Her role with Education Perfect (EP) is as the Global Head of Science where she drives future projects focused on Science education, and also works with schools to guide effective implementation of the platform in Science classrooms.

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