Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Flipped Classroom -v- Flipped Learning

In preparation for my upcoming IB workshop on flipping the classroom, I've been reading everything I can about the benefits of the flip on student learning.  One of the best arguments in favor of making the flip has been an article that appeared in the May edition of ISTE's magazine Learning and Leading with Technology by Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams.  I'm summarizing parts of this article here as I think it will provide a useful starting point for our workshop participants.

To start with Bergmann and Sams argue that the flipped classroom is not simply a new fad - teachers have always assigned reading to be done at home, followed by class periods discussing and developing the understanding of the ideas in the reading.  The flipped classroom using video or podcasts is simply an extension of this, so that the media is used as a pre-teaching tool that learners can build on in class (in other words teachers are using an old method but with a new tool that allows them to quickly create and distribute video content in a way that was not possible 10 years ago).

Bergmann and Sams argue that it is not the flipped classroom itself that is the goal, but that this is simply the path that leads to more powerful teaching and learning, which they refer to as flipped learning.  The flipped classroom is one way of getting teachers to flip learning as it moves direct instruction out of the "group learning space" (classroom) into the "individual learning space" (through teacher created videos that students can view individually).  This allows the group space to be "transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment where the educator guides students as they apply concepts and engage creatively in the subject matter."   Basically flipped learning means that class time is spent on richer and more meaningful learning experiences since direct instruction to a whole group is not the best use of class time, considering the variety of student learning styles.  With the flip, the classroom focus is more on learning (and less on teaching).

Bergmann and Sams write that introducing flipped learning is a first step that teachers can take towards a learning-centred classroom, that the flipped classroom is in fact a "gateway to flipped learning".  Flipping the classroom by itself doesn't change anything - a lecture in class or a lecture watched at home is still a lecture - therefore the goal of flipped learning for teachers is not simply to create and use video but to plan what is the best use of face to face class time once the direct instruction is moved to the individual space.  They argue there are 3 main elements:
  • Relationships:  students who have positive relationships with teachers do better on standardized tests and get better grades.  A better use of time than preparing for standardized tests can be spent connecting meaningfully with students instead, becoming mentors and coaches of students instead of simply being the content experts.  Part of this involves seeing each learner as an individual who needs specific nurturing and guidance.
  • Content:  In the flipped learning model students have the time to explore the things they are curious about when learning the key concepts and content that all students should know.  Flipped learning can allow students to inquire deeper into the content.  Many teachers spend a lot of time helping students to remember and understand, while less time has traditionally been spent on the higher order thinking skills of applying, analyzing, evaluating and creating.  Flipped learning can allow more class time to be spent on the higher levels of Blooms's Taxonomy.
  • Curiosity:  Flipped learning can enable students to take their learning further and explore their passions.  Once the lower order thinking skills have been shifted to the individual, then flipped learning gives educators the flexibility to provide time for students to explore their own interests (genius hour, golden time, curiosity projects, 20% time etc.).  Project-based learning can fit well at this point too.
The article also provides insight into how the ISTE standards support flipped learning.  At ASB all teachers have set personal goals based on the NETS-T Standard 2.  Specifically Standard 2 supports the flipped learning model in the following ways:
Standard 2C:  Customize and personalize learning activities to address students' diverse learning styles, working strategies and abilities using digital tools and resources.
Standard 2D:  Provide students with multiple and varied formative and summative assessments aligned with content and technology standards and use resulting data to inform teaching and learning.

My work with the flipped classroom and flipped learning models over the past few months have given me new insight into how to personalize learning and have more student-centred classrooms.  Do you have experience of using the flipped classroom model?  I'd love to hear how are you using class time to flip learning.

Read the full article in Learning and Leading with Technology.

Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams have written a book, published by ISTE, entitled Flipped Learning:  Gateway to Student Engagement which can be pre-ordered here.

Photo Credit: jeff_golden via Compfight cc


  1. Maggie: A great summary of the article and the work we are doing trying to help educators re-think classrooms.

  2. Maggie, excellent summary of the difference between the two. This particular article was helpful in my research over the flipped learning concept. Based on that grad school research, I developed a website that attempts to achieve the same shift in teaching pedagogy. You can find that at http://jardo3.wix.com/flippedlearning. I also include my literature review on this site if you would like to learn more about what other studies out there say about the benefits of flipped learning. P.S. Just followed this blog. Great stuff!