There are many definitions of the flipped classroom and as many views about what constitutes one.
A strong and coherent statement about the flipped classroom should focus on both sides of “the flip”:
- What should go on in the classroom?
- What should be pursued outside of the classroom?
In class time
The main reason, maybe the only reason, to flip a class is to provide more class time for learning, where the teaching and learning professional – the classroom teacher – engages with the students to help them develop higher orders of critical thinking. Students spend class time engaging with the teaching and learning professional and fellow students, to work on assigned problems and interactive activities to illustrate concepts.
In short, students receive more, personalized, instructional support in the classroom from the expert and practice applying key concepts with feedback.
It is difficult to argue with this view of the in-class time side of “the flip”.
It is how it should be! The professionals use their knowledge and skills to support and guide students as they occupy their in-class time with collaborative work and concept mastering exercises.
Outside class time
Arguably it is on this side of “the flip” that the deficiencies of the flipped classroom are most exposed.
Typically on this side of “the flip” lecture style teaching is banished from in-class time and delivered outside class time – usually to the home – via current technologies such as video, live lectures online, video podcasts and more.
These lecture style teachings provide the base content for the concepts students must learn and manipulate in their in class time. If the students aren’t exposed to this base content, and many won’t be, where does that leave them? They will not have the necessary pre-requisite knowledge to move to the next crucial step of working with the professional in class time on assigned problems and interactive activities to illustrate concepts – and consequently, they will not develop their higher order critical thinking skills.
More work needs to be done on how to structure and monitor the activities assigned to outside class time. There are many ways in which this could be done – and if the flipped classroom is to survive as a credible teaching paradigm – it must be done.
How do you structure and monitor this other side of “the flip”?