Traditional education suggests that a familiar order of things is the best way to teach new information. The class meets, an expert presents a lecture about the subject at hand, and then the students go home to complete an assignment related to the teachings of the day. However, when it comes to modern learning, sometimes it makes sense to flip the traditional model on its head. What can be achieved in a flipped classroom model? A whole lot, it turns out.

What is a Flipped Classroom?

In a flipped classroom, the audience is provided with a video or other learning material in advance. They have time to complete the materials, process the information and come to their physical or virtual classroom armed with questions and all the tools they need for deeper exploration. In effect, the lecture or declarative knowledge is experienced independently before class, and the homework or practice is done collaboratively on class time. Rather than using time together to be introduced to new information, the audience comes ready to apply big-picture concepts to activities and discuss deeper issues.

What Types of Activities are Useful?

The flipped classroom is most likely to succeed when the engaged learning activities are meaningful and directly relate to the lesson. Here are a few examples of flipped learning lessons and activities that will maximize class time and encourage engagement.

Example 1

Pre-class assignment: Provide three 5-minute videos discussing the weekly topic. Assign an online quiz that gives immediate feedback and allows the learner to see any missed questions and go back and re-watch the videos as needed.

In class: Ask a question based on the content of the videos that requires a qualified answer. Give students 3 minutes to consider their response and then engage in a group conversation, or pair off students to discuss their conclusions.

Example 2

Pre-class assignment: Instruct the audience to read through a textbook or relevant articles and prepare a word web that displays their understanding of how key concepts and terms relate to each other.

In class: Let learners share their word webs with other students. Compare different webs in depth and examine the reasoning behind differing conclusions. Let classmates question each other and discuss unique interpretations of the greater concepts’ relationships.

Example 3

Pre-training assignment: Have participants review a presentation with videos that covers the topic of the session.

In class: Begin the in-person session by breaking into groups and identifying three possible challenges from the material. For example, if the presentation was about a change to brand marketing, the participants might list three obstacles to implementing the changes to their current strategy. Have each group present and brainstorm solutions as a class.

Example 4

Pre-training assignment: For a sales simulation, have participants do a knowledge scanning exercise where they review a customer’s financial reports, employee profiles, press releases and articles.

In class: Challenge the participants to work in groups, choose which employee to invite to a sales call, and present their call opening. Have the participants give peer feedback, then provide expert feedback from the instructor based on a rubric.

Do Flipped Classrooms Really Work?

There is reason to believe that flipped classrooms are more than a fad. In fact, the hands-on and meaningful engagement involved in this teaching style has been shown to increase understanding and improve learning outcomes. A 2001 study split a college-level physics class between the traditional lecture approach and the flipped classroom approach. Students received the same traditional coursework and lectures for the first 11 weeks of the course. Then, a control group continued to receive the same lesson plan for a week and an experimental group was switched to a flipped classroom model. At the end of a single week, all students were given a multiple choice test. The control group scored an average of 41 on the test, while the flipped classroom group received an average of 74.

In 2012, a study of students at a college preparatory school in Dubai found students who switched to a flipped classroom strategy reported less stress and demonstrated greater content knowledge.

In addition, the Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology has been using a flipped classroom to teach pilots since 2013. They report better retention of information and lower program costs due to more students passing the FAA test on the first try.

On a corporate level, the Dollar Shave Club says they let their new employees test actual products first, instead of boring them with PowerPoints, as part of a flipped learning strategy. They report their employees know more about their products and ask more informed questions this way.

The flipped classroom is a meaningful option for all learning environments. With the help of Reva Digital instructional designers you can create the perfect combination of videos, case study materials, online quizzes and other learning resources. Before you know it, you’ll see improved results by simply giving your teaching a flip.

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