Flipping: "the future of education"

The traditional / common approach to curriculum delivery is to use contact time for basic knowledge transmission (lecturing) and then provide independent learning activities to enable students to apply or discuss this knowledge, critically analyse it or extend it for instance through projects, coursework or exam revision.

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"In an interesting flip to the traditional classroom script, teachers can assign the videos and interactive online exercises for home and do what used to be homework in the classroom. By removing the one-size-fits all lecture from the classroom and letting students do work and interact with each other in class, these teachers have used technology to humanize the classroom.” (Salman Khan, The Khan Academy)

(Photo by Steve Jurvetson)

So, Flipping is an approach that inverts the traditional way of teaching by delivering content outside the classroom and using face-to-face time for tackling the more difficult concepts, for problem-solving, discussion and other application of the material. Content might be delivered using short videos or texts, with quizzes and other online activities to ensure independent learning takes place in preparation for scheduled contact time. The key feature of a flipped lecture or classroom is that this material is provided and studied before face-to-face contact time (lecture). Thus, rather than using time with the academic for simply receiving information, the students are given the opportunity to really benefit from the lecturer’s experience and expertise through focusing on the more difficult concepts, and through problem-solving, analysis, evaluation and synthesis of material, and other higher level activities.

If students are able to access materials outside the lecture, they can work at their own pace. ‘Flipping’ provides the lecturer with an approach for dealing with large classes, where students may be at different stages of understanding and skill, and provides time in lectures for more personal support. In-class activities might include individual problem-solving, group discussion, role playing (e.g. a discussion is staged as two or more sides of a debate), quizzes posed by the lecturer (using an electronic voting system), quizzes designed by the students and so on.

The flipped classroom is a curriculum design concept, not a prescribed set of rules. You can apply the approach in a way that is appropriate for your students’ learning experience.