The increased use of education technology and greater reliance on blended learning approaches have helped give rise to the flipped classroom model, where students are introduced to a topic through independent study at home and then attend regular classes to expand their understanding under the guidance of the teacher.
Keep reading to learn about flipped classrooms, including the benefits and the criticisms, or visit the Viewsonic Education page for more classroom insights and EdTech solutions.
The flipped classroom model is a teaching approach that has started to gain traction in recent times, coinciding largely with the rise of blended learning – where students benefit from a combination of online and classroom-based learning methods.
In this article, we explore the flipped classroom model in more depth, defining the concept, explaining the structure, and outlining the key benefits associated with this approach. Furthermore, we will also look at some of the criticism surrounding the flipped classroom model, allowing you to get a sense of both the pros and cons.
A Definition of the Flipped Classroom Model
As the name suggests, the flipped classroom model flips the two fundamental learning stages of conventional classroom-based education. Traditionally, students would be introduced to a new topic in the classroom and then complete homework and assignments to individually explore or expand on the topic. In the flipped classroom model, students engage with new material individually before class and then use classroom time to expand on their understanding of it as a group under the guidance of the teacher.
While not exclusively reliant on digital technology, teachers employing the flipped classroom approach often introduce new topics through online videos, supporting articles, and may sometimes make use of online discussions. Classroom time is then used to build upon this foundation knowledge in various ways, allowing educators to achieve more during lessons with the time saved by removing topic introductions.
The Structure of Flipped Classes
The flipped classroom model has two main stages: the introduction of new learning concepts and the further exploration of the topic, often with a problem-solving element.
- Stage 1: New Information – Students are introduced to a new topic or asked to understand new learning material ahead of the lesson, typically through online videos and content. However, the introduction of new material may also be achieved through articles, independent research, online discussions with other students, etc.
- Stage 2: Further Exploration – During the lesson itself, the teacher facilitates further exploration of the topic through classroom-based discussion, problem-solving activities, and more meaningful learning opportunities. This means students attend the lesson with a base understanding and leave with an advanced understanding.
Advantages of the Flipped Classroom Model
While on the surface the flipped classroom model may seem like simply the reversal of the conventional classroom model with the addition of digital recourses, there are a number of benefits to the flipped classroom model for both students and teachers.
Benefits of the Flipped Classroom Model for Students
The benefits of the flipped classroom model for students are numerous, but arguably one of the most significant benefits is the development of independent learning skills. Moreover, lessons become more focused on applying knowledge, potentially making them more interesting and resulting in improved student engagement.
Another area where the flipped classroom model truly excels is in relation to student absences. When the core foundational knowledge is obtained through online resources rather than in the classroom, all students will have the most essential information to look back on, even if they miss occasional lessons.
When research and preliminary discussions occur before the lesson, it also increases the amount of time that students spend on putting their new skills or knowledge into practice with supervision from teachers. Furthermore, when teachers produce their own video content, students benefit from more time learning directly from those teachers.
Benefits of the Flipped Classroom Model for Teachers
The flipped classroom model can be beneficial for teachers because it allows them to spend more time acting as facilitators rather than delivering basic information to students. With this extra time, teachers can further explore topics with students in lessons that are more tailored, hands-on, and in-depth.
The reduced amount of time spent by teachers providing foundational information also allows more time to be spent interacting meaningfully with students in order to gauge their strengths and weaknesses, allowing for a better assessment of their understanding of the topic and to guide the classes that follow.
Disadvantages of the Flipped Classroom Model
Although the flipped classroom model can enhance the learning experience for students and allow teachers to have more meaningful interactions with students, there is still some criticism surrounding the model.
Much of the criticism of the flipped classroom model centers around the idea of the digital divide, which refers to the widening gap in greater society between those who have access to the latest technology and those who do not. Students from poorer backgrounds are likely to have reduced access to a computer of their own with a reliable internet connection. This can mean that the flipped classroom model may inadvertently leave the most disadvantaged students behind and reinforce some of the structural links between privilege and academic achievement.
It is also worth noting that some students will not be suited to independent learning. And while the flipped classroom model does attempt to address this through discussions in the classroom, it can still result in some students lacking the foundational knowledge of the topic and therefore being at a disadvantage in the phase of further exploration.
The flipped classroom model is growing in popularity as more educators and learning establishments move towards education 3.0 and the use of EdTech increases. The approach has much to offer as teachers can facilitate a deeper understanding of a topic rather than simply delivering the foundational content. But schools and teachers will need to be cautious as not all students will have equal access to the required technology that is commonly used within the flipped classroom model, which can leave students at a disadvantage to their peers and further the global issue of the digital divide.