The Flipped Classroom

Tue, 26 Feb, 2013    21st centurybloom's taxonomycollegdistance educationflipflipped classroomhigher learningonlinetechnologytransmission

For so long, almost every college classroom has looked the same whether you were in Buies Creek, North Carolina, Cambridge, Massachusetts, or Columbus, Ohio.  These classrooms contained typical college students, desks or tables to sit at, and a professor who stood behind a podium and lectured to the class and almost certainly dominated the discussion, whether by design or not.  Most college professors used a lecture-style approach to teaching and might would integrate some slides from a PowerPoint or slide show of pictures to highlight the topic of the day.  However, as the saying goes, "times have changed."

Welcome to the 21st Century where students graduating from our higher learning institutions are faced with these simple truths: the top 10 in-demand jobs in 2010 did not even exist in 2004, there were almost 5 billion Google searches per day in 2011, and the total number of texts sent each day is more than the total number of people who are living on planet Earth.  The learners in our classrooms are not the same as they were in the late 90s or even the early 2000s.  Higher learning institutions are having to address this with their professors because there is clear, concrete evidence that students learn much more in an environment where the professor/teacher is the facilitator of learning rather than the "lecturer-in-residence."  It is also clear that this type of classroom environment better prepares students for the changing world of technology and 21st century skills.

So the question becomes: "what does a flipped classroom look like?"  Here is a glimpse.

Instead of using lecture, class time is taken up by reinforcing and analyzing the subject matter.  Class time is also used for demonstrations, debates, and discussions.  It's important to note that students are learning increasingly more from their peers than they are from a teacher or professor.  Allowing students to collaborate facilitates team building skills as well as preparing them to meaningfully contribute to their colleagues in their future workplace.

The flipped classroom also has the step of transmission of information occur before students come to class.  This is much more than students just reading their textbook before coming to class so that they are prepared, although that is part of it.  It also means watching videos, accessing media on iTunes, or posting to discussion boards about topics discussed in the readings.  When the transmission of information occurs before the class period, then the class time can be spent diving deeper into the subject matter and giving students a more thorough understanding of the topics.  This is what Bloom's Taxonomy is referring to when it moves students from just understanding information to applying and analyzing the information.  This is a great by-product of a flipped classroom!

In the beginning, flipping the classroom will not be easy.  A professor who has lectured for much of their tenured career will most likely have a tough time trying to flip their classroom, however, students are more likely to zone out during a lecture than they are in an engaging, active learning environment so class results will be better.  Incorporating technology into the flipped classroom will accomplish this if it is done correctly and will make it easier for the professor in the long run.  The statistics are clear:  73% of college students say they cannot study without technology, 70% of college students use keyboards to take notes, and 38% of college students cannot go more than 10 minutes without checking their email, tablet, smartphone, or laptop.  All of these statistics are further proof that integrating technology into a flipped classroom is what will meet our students where they are right now.

More statistics:

*In 2009, college students spent $13 billion dollars on electronics.
* 12 million college students are currently taking one or more online courses.
*In 2014:  5.14 million college students will take classes in a physical classroom.
3.55 million college students will take ALL online classes.
18.65 million college students will take at least one online class.

Jason Bennett
Instructional Design & Training Coordinator
Distance Education, Campbell University