My Flipped Classroom Strategy
What is a flipped classroom? Is it a new idea?
In a nutshell, a flipped classroom reverses time allocation between presentation of material and time spent on homework. Traditionally, presentation of material (lectures) took place in the classroom and students managed their time on homework outside class-time. In a flipped classroom, the material and videos are made available by the instructor and students are in charge of working on the material in their own time before coming to the class. Majority of in-class time is spent on homework, answering questions and resolving difficulties. Flipped classroom style as a highly-engaging, learner-centered approach was introduced in 1993, in Alison King's "From Sage on the Stage to Guide on the Side," in which she underlines the use of class time for the construction of meaning rather than information transmission.
Why now (post-COVID) is the time to finally make the transition in higher education?
Almost every instructor has stories of disengaged students spending class time mostly on social media and online shopping, or lectures and instructors competing with online forums, Wikipedia, YouTube, and assignment sharing websites for their position as the source of knowledge. Flipped classroom intentionally gives more autonomy to learners to be introduced to new topics outside of classroom, while the time in the classroom is used to explore topics in greater depth and create meaningful learning opportunities.
I have been experimenting with flipped classroom model for several years now and have been brushing with the inertia and systemic frictions against applying innovative principles in the classroom: Students who were not willing to take charge of learning outside of the classroom, and institutional misalignment when it comes to performance evaluation, which traditionally glorifies devoting class-time to lectures.
Although the gap between student expectations and traditional school offering has been widening in the last decade, the barriers to flip the classroom have been rather strong. The inversion of the classroom roles requires much effort and investment, which creates inertia in educational institutions for upgrading their systems and processes. The 2020 COVID pandemic, which affected the universities around the world, eased this barrier and forced schools, instructors, and institutional decision makers to make the leap once and for all.
My flipped classroom plan.
My flipped classroom strategy consists of three key easy-to-schedule elements:
The weekends: Students spend a few hours to study the content (text, video, slides) and search the internet during the weekend leading to the class.
In-class time: Instructor takes the students beyond the content through working on examples and problems, resolving questions and difficulties, quizzes, simulations, etc.
The Term project: Throughout the course, students work on a major problem from A to Z and deliver a tangible output that utilizes all the learnings of the course across all sessions. This project is the evidence to be reflected in student's CV by the end of the course.
Millennial Students: the roles of the students in flipped classrooms
Millennial students are much different today from when, say, I was a student. They are tech-savvy, 247 connected for information, and gravitate towards social opportunities to collaborate. The expectation that they sit and listen attentively to lectures, then use the material to practice concepts on their own falls short of reality. In a flipped classroom, students should:
Take responsibility for learning the content OUTSIDE of class
Participate actively IN the classroom
Instructor 2.0: the role of the flipped teacher
Rather than being the sage on the stage, the role of the instructor is going to be a coach or a guide on the side. during in-class time, the instructor is a facilitator. On top of it, a flipped instructor needs to know how to create and organize quality content on digital platforms.