The Flipped Classroom and Social Learning

The Flipped Classroom and Social Learning

This generation of students has access to more and better technology than ever before. However, time and time again, we hear how the classroom has fallen behind in both aligning with our technological era and adapting to the ways in which hyper-connected students learn. The concept of a “flipped classroom” has been gaining momentum in the past few years, but it has not been a flawless transition. In rural and low-income districts, concerns have surfaced about the lack of student access to computers and Internet connections, and teachers have voiced concerns about devoting additional time outside the classroom to create videos for their students.

Today, the idea of the flipped classroom is getting more difficult to ignore, especially given the social nature of students. The most basic concept of the flipped classroom describes a scene where students work collaboratively in the classroom to complete what used to be their homework. At home, they watch short videos of lessons and take online (or paper) quizzes to determine whether they learned the major concepts. In the classroom, students typically work in small groups to teach one another—reinforcing research that shows peer-to-peer learning to be the most effective type of learning. The teacher, rather than talking at the students from the front of the classroom, can circulate and help any struggling students. Allowing students to teach one another and learn in a social setting supports major concepts about the best way to learn in this social age.

Despite obvious technology barriers (access to Internet and computers), most classrooms that have “flipped” are using strategies to ensure they are inclusive of all students. School districts in Iowa implemented a 1:1 student-to-computer ratio, equipping each student with her or his own laptop. Other districts make their computer labs available to students during study hall hours and before or after school. Some teachers are even putting their lesson plans on DVD or USB drives so that Internet access is no longer a barrier. In these ways, the flipped classroom overcomes inequities and expands the learning day for all students. This may also be a low-cost fix to increasing parental engagement outside of the classroom, as well.

A group in Detroit has committed to opening a technology charter school by 2014 with a “less is more” approach to funding. They are looking to corporate models of efficiency and using the flipped classroom as a central part of their model. Additionally, they are exploring video-conferencing setups to maximize keep costs low.

Given that teachers and school districts have found creative solutions to resolving access barriers to the flipped classroom, how long can other districts ignore this revolution?

A informative infographic explaining the flipped classroom model from Knewton: