About Flipped Learning Technologies
In the 21st century, it is critical for people to develop higher-order thinking skills to successfully evaluate and apply knowledge in their work and everyday practices. However, the limited time of classroom instruction creates a challenge for educators to provide enough time and opportunities for students to engage in interactive and collaborative activities that allow them to practice such high-order skills.
Flipped LearnIng Technologies (FLIT) is a research program aimed at designing and researching blended learning environments that apply to both face-to-face activities and online spaces. Having students watch video-recorded lectures online outside the classroom makes it possible to engage students in the interactive and collaborative activities that develop their high-order thinking skills.
Our research team explores the rearrangement of time and space to enhance learning experience by shifting the instructional principle from “providing instruction oriented toward the classroom” to “changing the classroom to enable meaningful learning.”
What is Flipped Learning?
Flipped Classroom and Flipped Learning
Since the late 2000s, the term “Flipped Classroom” has spread from grassroots level to primary and secondary school educators in the United States. It is an instructional approach that uses video-recorded lectures as homework assignments in basic topics for students to watch at home, and then engages them in interactive and collaborative activities such as one-to-one tutoring and project-based learning in the classroom. In traditional instruction, most class time is spent on content presentation by lecture-based instruction and it is hard for teachers to ensure enough time to engage students in advanced tasks where they can apply their knowledge in disciplinary contexts. The flipped model allows interactive and collaborative activities for developing high-order thinking skills by transferring content delivery online before class. Since 2012, this approach has gradually also attracted attention among Japanese educators, including higher education and business training professionals. In FLIT, we use the term “flipped learning” instead of “flipped classroom” to envision the use of such a flipped model not only in formal education but also in informal learning.
History of Flipped Classrooms
The concept of “flip” has been developed among researchers and educators since the early 2000s. For example, Baker (2000) proposed an instructional approach of “classroom flip” in higher education. In his model, students are assigned to read online lecture materials, ask questions and discuss with others on a bulletin board, and solve online quizzes before class. After this, they engage in active learning in the classroom to check, expand, and apply what they have learned online (Baker 2000). Lage et al. (2000) also proposed an analogous model of “inverted classroom” in which students are assigned to watch video-recorded lectures before class and then engage in active learning in the classroom. In secondary education, Bergmann and Sams (2012) recorded their lectures and had students watch them before class as homework, and then used class time to check students’ comprehension, provide one-to-one tutoring, and engage students in project-based learning. They called this model the “flipped classroom” and the term was popularized through media reports of their practice.
Online Learning Materials for Flipped Teaching
Khan Academy is a website that allows visitors to watch instructional videos and solve online tests in various subjects including mathematics free of charge (Khan, 2012). Although this website was originally designed for individually customized after-school learning, many teachers today use it for online learning materials as part of their flipped teaching. Since the instructional videos are organized in smaller units by topic, teachers can easily use those videos in their own classes instead of recording lectures by themselves. Khan Academy also allows teachers’ access to their student logs, and they can thus identify who is struggling or needs help with the website functionality.
Flipped Classrooms in Higher Education
Stanford University School of Medicine changed a subset of their courses from lectures to the flipped model in which students watch online physiology lectures before class and are then engaged in discussions about clinical case studies to apply their knowledge. As a result, students’ course reviews improved and their attendance rate significantly increased despite that class attendance was optional (Prober & Heath, 2012). In 2012, San Jose State University experimentally turned one of its engineering courses into the flipped format by using a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Consequently, students’ midterm scores in the flipped section were higher than those in the traditional section (The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2012).
Theoretical Viewpoints on Flipped Learning
Flipped learning can be defined as a form of blended learning. Blended learning represents an education theory on learning that integrates face-to-face and online learning environments by utilizing various media and tools such as texts, photos/videos, and discussion forums (Garrison & Vaughan, 2008). Flipped learning can be framed as a particular form of blended designs in which students watch video lectures (and answer quizzes) online before class and then participate in interactive and collaborative activities in the classroom. On the other hand, one study suggests that proceeding from exploration to explanation would lead to better learning outcomes than the other sequence (Schneider et al., 2013). Accordingly, more research is needed to identify effective instructional models and the key design principles from multiple theoretical perspectives.
Issues Related to Flipped Learning
It is necessary to ensure that all learners have access to online learning materials when implementing flipped learning, but device supply is an economic challenge for many education institutes. Additionally, only providing access to online video lectures does not enhance student learning. The key to success in flipped learning is the design of interactive and collaborative tasks in the classroom (Bergmann & Sams, 2012). Likewise, organizational support is critical to ensure electronic devices for every student and provide teachers with assistive technology tools and opportunities for professional development (Shigeta, 2014).
Flipped Learning FAQ
How does the flipped model differ from traditional at-home preparation?
One major characteristic of flipped teaching is that students are provided with instruction equivalent to traditional lectures before class. In this regard, traditional at-home preparation such as reading textbooks and working on worksheets differs from the flipped model in which both learning materials and instructive explanations are provided by video lectures.
What would you do for students with no access to the Internet at home?
It is essential to ensure that all learners have access to online learning materials for flipped learning, but some students may not have that opportunity for a variety of reasons. In their model, Bergmann and Sams provided DVDs of lecture recordings to students who had no Internet access at home. It is a challenge for educational institutes like universities to provide alternative options and environments (e.g., learning commons) where students can use computers freely.
What type of effect can be expected by adopting the flipped model?
Teachers and schools that have adopted the flipped model (Bergmann & Sams, 2012; Fulton, 2012; Prober & Heath, 2012; PBS, 2013) reported various effects such as those below, yet there is insufficient scientific data to support the effectiveness of the model.
- Dropout rates decreased or pass rates increased.
- Student course assessments improved.
- Student grades increased.
Does the flipped classroom only work for advanced students?
Teachers and schools that struggle with dropouts and poor academic performance have reported that their dropout rates decreased and student performance improved after applying the flipped model. In particular, one-to-one tutoring and peer instruction will help struggling students by providing them with interactive learning opportunities.