Fruits of Flip Side Classrooms

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ClassroomsFlipped Classroom is a process that would turn around the traditional technique of teaching methodology, shifting focus from lecture delivering to student learning. Zankrut Oza, Assistant Professor, VES Institute of Management Studies and Research (VESIM) shares an overview of the flipped classroom

“You will be doing your students a much greater service by reducing the amount of material that you are covering and actually ensuring that students are learning it, rather than making sure that you are ticking off everyone checkpoint in your ideal syllabus. Learning comes from practice, and you have to help and teach your students to practice just as you help and give them the basic knowledge and skills of your discipline,” said by James M. Lang, Cheating Lessons: Learning from Academic Dishonesty.

General method of teaching in our country even today is focused on the faculty in the classroom, giving students only an interactive opportunity when required, i.e. to solve any doubt or when a question is raised by the faculty, student has to revert compulsorily. The modes of teaching has been board-oriented, dictated or in power point presenlearntation form. Here, the overall feel is that a faculty is like a broadcasting station and others are the avid listeners tuning into the classroom.

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Zankrut Oza,
Assistant Professor,
VES Institute of Management Studies and Research (VESIM)

While catching the frequency, every listener has his own grasping power to catch the content, understand and analyse it. In the whole process, it is selfunderstood (read misunderstood) by a faculty that every student has received the same content as transferred. Here, the students catered to are average or just above average, while the best of the students are not challenged on learning topics and below-the-average or struggling students are left haywire. Most of the time was spent on lecturing and a little on its application, which disturbingly dilutes the basic essence of studying in education system.

To overcome such hurdles, a teaching technique was developed known as “flipped classroom” or “inverted classroom”. We are not talking about anti-gravity experiment, but a process that would turn around the traditional technique of teaching methodology. The core of the flipped classroom is a learner-centred method, which intentionally shifts focus from lecture delivering to student learning. So, what happens exactly over here is that in place of lectures delivered in the classroom, assignments are given to be worked at home, thus creating a reverse scenario. Faculty search the online tutorial videos or podcasts or create their own subject matter of expertise and the students listen to them at home. The class time is utilised for execution based on this knowledge.

This breaks the educator’s mind-set of teaching with Bloom’s Revised Taxanomy (2001) where students are focusing on higher forms of cognitive learning like analysis, application, evaluation in the classroom and performing the lower levels of cognitive work like comprehension and receiving knowledge outside of class. Inside the classroom, students receive the support from their faculty in application and help in completing projection from their peers.

New Buzzword

In last few years, “flip classroom” has become a buzzword in the international education ecosystem. It all started with a Harvard professor Eric Mazur developing concepts which influenced flipped teaching method, by creating an instructional plan, which he called as peer instruction. Prof Mazur also published a book in 1997, known as Peer Instruction: A User’s Manual. His finding was a method to shift knowledge transfer outside the class and collate the information inside the classroom, which gives him a chance to coach his students in their learning instead of lecture.

A research was carried out in two colleges for the subject of economics by three faculties namely Lage, Platt and Tregliaon with the help of VCRs, moving away from the presentation way of teaching. They published a paper called “Inverting the Classroom: A Gateway to creating an inclusive learning environment” (2000) which says that a faculty or trainer can leverage the classroom duration that becomes available from the inversion of the classroom.

One of the first executors of this concept was Salman Khan – an educator and founder of Khan Academy. He used the Yahoo’s Doodle Notepad to teach his cousin Nadia in Maths. When asked for similar help, he made educative videos and uploaded them on YouTube. Sighting the success and recommendations, he started the world infamous “Khan Academy” on the same teaching model, which is backed by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ann and John Doerr, the Brazilbased Lemann Foundation, AT&T and Google. With the increasing popularity in Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), it became easier for faculties to find relevant online content for the flipped classrooms.

International organisation, TED, known for their conferences and online inspirational talks, took a step ahead with TED-Ed, a web portal of educational videos which can be customised further. Aim behind it was to leverage both educators and animators to create quality videos. The head of TED, Chris Anderson said, “It’s a better fit for education in the 21st century, and it’s the next logical step in TED’s evolution. TED-Ed was found as a way of empowering teachers, as well as giving a large platform for great teachers to produce their talks or lessons on video for the world.” There are many free online tools available for educators to support flipped classroom and create their own videos, customise and use them with students like SooMeta, Office Mix, FlipGrid, Edu- Creations, KnowMia, 9Slides, Jing, Video In Video, Mozilla PopCornMaker, etc. Open source Learning Management System like Moodle is also available and can be reframed according to the needs. No wonder, there is a vast community of over 25,000 Flipped Educators on a web portal called FLN’s Professional Learning Community (formerly called the Ning). One can easily join the FLN’s free online Professional Learning Community (PLC) and get connected with thousands of flipped educators across the globe. Their mission is to provide educators with the knowledge, skills, and resources to successfully implement flipped learning.

Students of this generation love technology. If it can be leveraged, they can have joy in studying and knowing a concept before it is introduced in the class

Flipped Classroom-Need

Now, the question arises is whether the students really need flipped classroom? It is positive, as the benefits for students are enormous. First of all, a change in methodology surely excites them and brings freshness in way of teaching. By using the flipped-classroom method, students can learn the subject or topics at their own pace. With the process, students start framing collaborative groups, helping each other to learn instead of just relying on the faculty.

Students of this generation love technology. If it can be leveraged, they can have joy in studying and knowing a concept before it is introduced in the class. Once they have gone through the study material, the communication in the classroom turns to be interactive and brick and mortar walls are broken. Here, more time can be given to groups with similar problems or the individual who fails to understand the given matter of the subject. With students becoming active part of the learning process, it helps creating learners out of the students. As said by Robert Talert, “Aim of higher education is to produce learners, not just students!”

There has been a debate whether it works well with higher education or not, but the reasons are reasonably sufficient enough to practice. It helps working students to refer the material whenever needed. Many of the students live far from the institute they study, lot of their time is wasted in travelling. With flipped classroom method, they can go through teaching material at any place and any moment of time. It helps the faculties, to remain absent physically on some unavoidable circumstances without hampering the ongoing sessions in an institution.

It increases the student – faculty and student – student interaction, working more in collaboration. It also helps a faculty really differentiate the level of the students in the classroom and take the flow of the subject accordingly. It has been found that with flipping the classroom, students excel in the course outlines and understand the topic in holistic nature. In an era, where many communities do not trust the educational system, or there are issues with the content of the lecture, it creates transparency among the whole ecosystem. Instead of in worrying what students are being exposed in the classroom, parents or guardians can find the discussed topics in a moment.

In flipped classrooms, students can also be assigned to individual or group readings and prepare for presentation. Flipped Classroom technique is integration in teaching, it will serve as an integral part of learning and not detach them from classrooms. Students will come to classrooms more to learn the continued topic and benefit the most with active learning system. Smart faculties involve surprise test, quiz or discussion on pre – given topic and asses the student, where points or marks are given accordingly. It’s not just an activity to be different from other faculties or institutions, but a practised methodology which can be measured and taken as a regular practice in teaching. Key elements to practise the flipped learning are divided in simpler steps:

  • Give an opportunity to the students for gaining first exposure to the subject prior to classroom teaching begins
  • Provide an incentive based system for students to prepare for classroom learning
  • There must be a mechanism to assess the learning of the student and consider it in grades
  • In this situation, in-class activities increase students dive deep in search of knowledge, which focuses on higher level cognitive activities in the classroom

Four-Pillars-of-F-L-I-PThe Four Pillars of F-L-I-P as given by the Flipped Learning Network are:

F – Flexible Environment

A work environment where the faculty and the students both get the flexibility of space and medium to interact and learn from each other

L – Learning Culture

Moving away from traditional teaching methods, it enhances students to learn without teacher and a culture of selflearning is fostered among the students

I – Intentional Content

Faculties can make the content keeping in mind the level of the students and set the structure and direction of the content accordingly

P – Professional Educator

It gives an opportunity to faculty for transforming themselves into professional educators, who not only teach a subject, but also improve its instructional method, heartily accepts the criticism, be reflective in their practice and thrive for excellence in their area and subject matter of interest

While we are discussing a lot on implementing and culture creation of flipped learning, it is also necessary to know the views of the students. Talking about the perception of students, in 2013, Speak Up online surveys, done by the national education, Project Tomorrow in support with the Flipped Learning Network in USA, on 180,000 plus middle and high school students, almost three-quarters of these students agree that flipped learning would be a good way for them to learn, with 32 per cent of those students strongly agreeing with that idea. In the same survey done amongst district administrators of the education system, 25 per cent recognised flipped learning as a significant impact making method on transforming teaching and learning in their district.

For researcher in various fields of education system of academia and trainers, there lays ample opportunities to do research for understanding, developing and challenging the flipped classroom method of teaching. Various academic and management journals are looking for such scholarly research works and foster the growth and implementation of the method.

Discussing only the advantages and looking on one side of the subject is a very narrow approach, henceforth, it is necessary to have a glance and know the challenges of flipped classroom system. It has also been observed that for initial phase for most of the faculties, they find it difficult to manage the class, which they are used to keep under their control. Chaos leading to discussion and debate is good for churning the best from a topic, but if it leads in the wrong direction, it can create issues for the actioner. A methodology what we are looking now as an opportunity can also turn into an urgency, if students, stop coming into the classroom for receiving the informational content delivery which they can get easily on their own. It turns into a challenge for faculties to transform how they use their classroom interaction in such a way that it continues to be relevant and valuable for the student community. One also need to understand that self-generated videos or given material are not just a person speaking or delivering the whole as in the length of the lecture. Other problem faced is to integrate the amount of content online and offline mode, and the quantity to be served in both the mediums.

With the challenges, there are advantages and emerging opportunities to explore and execute the flipped classroom technique, with the emphasis laid on skilled India. It can be a useful way to deliver education to millions of students. Way further, it fulfils the dreams of Digital India and the next neo generation is waiting for the educators and academia to adapt their chosen and interesting mediums of learning. On the cross roads, time will be the best judge of the scenario.

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