Connecting dots for digital learning and teaching

To Flip or not to Flip Your Classrooms ?


We all agree teachers aren’t the gatekeepers of information or knowledge any more in this age. In Flip Your Minds before Flipping Your Classrooms, we pointed out that actualy the right purpose behind this pedagogy is to put students in charge of their own learning, and to turn students into active learners instead of passive receivers. 10 Big Problems with Lecture-Based Learning is a post trying to give a thorough examination on the model of teachers delivering contents in front of classes.

Even as early as 20 years ago, Dr. Eric Mazur (link to his researches and presentations) of Harvard University found that lecturing wasn’t effective and began to adopt different approach in his big classes. In order to reach everyone in the situation of big classes, he is still striving to design structured flow and student response tools aided by technologies to maximize the depth of interaction between teachers and students. This video is an opening keynote for BLC11 from him recently.

The following questions are challenged by Dr. Mazur :

  • Where does the balance lie in providing students with answers and having them discuss and apply reason to get to their own answers?
  • Would you agree that the more a teacher is an expert in his/her content, the more difficulty this teacher has in understanding how a first time learner in this subject struggles? Explain your thinking.
  • How practical is it for any teacher to apply a flipped learning model, like the one Dr. Mazur shares, where students guide themselves through content on their own at home and then send their questions to a teacher before coming to a class where this material is then applied at a deeper level? If it’s not practical, what are the barriers.

Ramsey Musallam (@ramusallam on Twitter) is a high school chemistry teacher in San Francisco and teaches in the Masters of Ed. program at the University of San Francisco. In his effort to share why and how to flip classroomsthis presentation is a quick start for us to catch the ideas.
By these two pictures, he explains well that the intention to enable deeper learning and higher order thinking is the answer of why to flip your classrooms. Teachers are more important facilitators standing besides students when they are assimilating information rather than receiving information.

Before Flipping :

flipped classroom, flip teaching

After flipping:

flipped classroom, flip teaching

Mike King has been a teacher and principal for thirty-two years. In his “DigitalSandbox” website(or follow @digitalsandbox1) where he curated how technologies are changing education, you can find important points of view on the role a teacher should be because shifts are happening in our world, our youth will be in a conceptual age instead of industrial age or information age.
http://www.schooltube.com/embed/3680f2f119eb4f73ad6f

These great quotes are from his “Flipped Classrooms” pages :

  • The flipped classroom provides avenues for teachers to become facilitators of learning and move away from the sage on a stage approach to teaching. The foundational concepts of instructors guiding students or facilitating their progress are based on the idea that the instructor is no longer at the center of the interaction and application of knowledge. The instructor remains available to students as a facilitator of resources, a resource who should frequently check students for understanding for their learning. The teacher, when necessary will provide guidance in how to process the information for a unit of study. 
  • Along with the challenge of being a guide to the side comes the challenge for the teacher to develop new skills in facilitation. In the flipped classroom, students are at the center of knowledge obtainment.
  • These types of interactive practices will become even more evident as teachers experience performance based assessment that are soon to surface on the Common Core horizon. 
  • The flipped classroom has its roots in creating personal learning environments for students. In these classrooms technology tools and points of information referencing become a viable foundation in supporting student learning. The PLE (Personal Learning Environment) distinguishes the role of the individual as a self motivated learner who is capable in organizing his or her own learning through facilitation and instructional guidance. The creation of a PLE is based on the idea that learning can and will take place in co-collaborative learning environments and will not be provided by a single “one shoe fits all” learning provider. 
  • What is most apparent in the Common Core is that tasks are to be authentic. That is algorithmic tasks are no longer palatable for determining success in school. What is palatable is a more heuristic approach to constructing learning task that use multiple skills that allow experimentations for solutions.  The heuristic flipped classrooms of the future must illustrate other aspects of experience in which a student is immersed. Students need to grasp larger patterns. The part is always embedded in wholes, the fact is always embedded in multiple contexts, and a subject is always related to many other issues and content.

While we are trying to brief the serious reasons behind flipped classrooms. We don’t forget teachers are always the key persons in the classrooms no matter how many technologies are there. As a teacher in 21st century, knowing where he is leading his students toward in the whole picture of education will have the answer to “to flip or not to flip”.

If you like more resources about flipped teaching, this link Flipped Classroom will bring you to a bag full of practices, ideas, tools and resources.

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“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.” -------- Chinese Wisdom "Games are the most elevated form of investigation." -------- Albert Einstein
"I'm calling for investments in educational technology that will help create digital tutors that are as effective as personal tutors, educational software as compelling as the best video game," President Barack Obama said while touring a tech-focused Boston school (year 2011).
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