What is a Flipped Classroom?

Posted by Jerry Doll on Fri, Feb, 10, 2012 @ 08:02 AM

Cartwheel KidRaise your hand if you know what a "flipped classroom" is. If you don't know, you're not alone.  It is a relatively new trend in education and it's all thanks to technology.

Before we can understand the "flipped classroom" lets take a look at a traditional classroom. Students come to class, usually sitting behind desks or tables arranged in rows.  They spend fifty minutes or so listening to the instructor lecture about whatever today's topic is and then homework or lab work is assigned.  The students leave the classroom to complete their homework assignments (we hope), turn them in the next day, and patiently wait for that day's new lecture.  We've all been there, right?

But what if there was a way that the teacher could become more involved with the actual application of learned knowledge and parents could better understand what their children were being taught in the school?  The answer just might lie in the "flipped classroom."

In the "flipped" scenario the lecture portion of the class takes place at home via streaming video or DVD and the homework or activity portion of the course takes place in the classroom under the instructor's supervision.  Literally, the elements of a typical course are flipped.  

Here's how it has worked in one school.  The teacher created a 5 to 7 minute video (3 times a week) that students (and some parents) watched at home (or in school if they did not have internet access at home). Students came to class to complete the lab work assignments.  The results were that students received instant feedback as they applied their knowledge and the teachers had more time to explain difficult concepts.  This led to less frustration and more time for individual review with hands-on teacher support while students actually applied the concepts they had learned.

Although this is an emerging trend, there are some test cases around the United States and the results look promising.  Clintondale High School near Detroit has used the flipped model with great success.  Before "the flip," 50% of freshmen failed English and 44% failed math.  After Collaboration Table"the flip," 19% of freshmen failed English and only 13% failed math.  Those are some pretty substantial improvements.  In addition, disiplinary cases per semester dropped from 736 (traditional) to 249 (flipped).

This "flipped" idea may well indeed be the model of the future and will likely even change the physical aspects of the classroom itself.  For example, rows of desks — which are fine for sitting and listening — don't work as well for more collaborative efforts.  I think we will see less traditional classroom layouts and move further toward group learning furniture designs such as collaboration tables with built in computers and A/V equipment.  Mobile tables that can be reconfigured into group settings and placed back into rows (for classes that still use the traditional lecture format) may become a necessity for the "flipped classroom."

Visit www.knewton.com/flipped-classroom to view a great graphic that explains the idea of the "flipped classroom" and provides some additional facts about the Clintondale High School results.

You can also click the button below to download a variety of collaboration furniture design ideas from NOVA.

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Photo credit:  Digital Art via Free Digital Photos and Renjith Krishnan

Topics: School, Classroom, Furniture, flipped, collaboration, learning, teaching, student