The Flipped Classroom
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has had a tremendous impact on our day to day lives over the course of the last twenty years. Though we have grown more and more comfortable with ICT, the education system has had a hard time adjusting to this new reality. Not only is the use of ICT often limited or banned in class, many schools cannot provide an ICT device (smartphone, computer or IPad) to all their students. Despite all that, a new generation of teachers have started to approach teaching and ICT in a new light which has led to what has been called, “The Flipped Classroom” or “Flip Teaching“.
The main difference between a flipped class and a conventional class is that students learn their curriculum at home and do their homework in school. Under this new formula, students are asked to watch a video of the concepts that they need to grasp. They will then do their homework in class with the teacher providing them with the help they need. In order for the system to work, students are asked to take notes of the videos that they watch and they must prepare questions for their teacher. This is a very common requirement used by flip teaching teachers in order to make sure that the students actually watched the videos on their free time and that they prepared for their classes.
This new teaching method allows for more one on one teaching on the part of teachers. This is the view of and Adam Sams, teachers at Woodland Park High School in Colorado, who now see themselves as a “guide on the side rather than a sage on the stage”. Because of flip teaching, Mrs Bergman and Sams say that they can now walk around their classroom, provide one on one help to their students in need while their more advanced students can go on with their work. In conventional teaching, they are a detached figure, speaking in front of the class while the students listen (or sometimes sleep) quietly at their desks. Flip teaching therefore allows for a form of teaching that better suits individual needs.
For Mary Beth Hertz however, teachers and classrooms are still needed. She concedes that flip teaching is a great teaching tool, but it is not a miracle cure that will solve all the problems that our schools face. She argues that since not every child has a computer at home, it becomes almost impossible for these learners to evolve in a flip teaching environment. Furthermore, watching videos of the theory and content of a class can be time consuming. Finally, she states, and is quite right, that not everyone learns best by watching a screen. The conventional role of teachers, it seems, is very essential still. From what I understand, flip teaching shows great promise, but it should be seen as what it is: a great teaching tool. Nothing else and nothing more.
In my opinion, it is true that flip teaching shows great promise; it is a fantastic way of making sure that absent students (because of sickness or extracurricular activities) will have access to the material. I also think that since children and teenagers love looking for stuff on the Internet it is something that they are very familiar with and happy to do. The greatest advantage for me is how it allows people that are very knowledgeable but that are not comfortable in front of a group, to focus on one on one work. However, flip teaching is not an end all be all solution for our education system’s problems. As for teachers, not all of them are ready to make the jump to flip teaching. They need to prepare their classes differently and rethink the way they transfer knowledge. Flip teaching asks many teachers to get out of their comfort zone by adopting a technology they are not always proficient with. Furthermore, in order to teach through using a flipped classroom format, most teachers will have to completely change their approach to teaching. Finally, flip teaching will never replace teachers since students need explanations (during their work times or in order to grasp certain concepts) and because somebody has to prepare those videos!