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Flipped Classrooms: Issues, concerns, and potentials

Alexis Mauricio #92717974

ETEC 532 Section 66B

University of British Columbia

FLIPPED CLASSROOMS Flipped Classrooms: Issues, concerns, and potentials Introduction Due to the emergence of open educational resources such as Khan Academy and TEDEd, flipped classrooms are gaining attention in education. In this paper, I will define flipped classrooms, explore their history and theoretical framework, analyze examples, discuss their potential use in a middle school Humanities context, address challenges, and identify key questions. Definition of Flipped Classrooms

A flipped classroom is also known as an inverted classroom or reverse instruction (Barseghian, 2011). It uses web technologies to leverage learning in a classroom. Students explore concepts outside class and apply their knowledge in collaborative learning, problem solving, discussions, and debates in class. Since less time is spent on lecturing, educators can focus on students higher-order learning skills (TED Conferences, 2012) and clarify incorrect notions (Tucker, 2012). Content is accessed and controlled by the learner, while the teacher is a facilitator helping students form their own meanings through concept engagement.

History of Flipped Learning The origins of flipped learning trace back to the 1990s, where Eric Mazur developed Peer Instruction at Harvard University. Students completed readings and questions before classes using an online Just-in-Time-Teaching system, then participated in class discussions involving conceptual questions. Mazur (1991, p. 38) discovered that computer-aided instruction allowed

FLIPPED CLASSROOMS him to assist students in assimilating information and ...address several common misconceptions that would otherwise go undetected... in a traditional lecture.

In 2000, J. Wesley Baker introduced the often quoted phrase, ...become the guide on the side instead of the sage on the stage... (Wikipedia, 2012, para. 6), noting a transition in instructional approaches. He stated that teachers had more class time to deeply explore concepts through interactive sessions when online course management tools were used for homework content (Wikipedia, 2012). Also in 2000, the University of Wisconsin-Madison implemented eTEACH in computer science classes. This consisted of streaming video lectures combined with PowerPoint slides. Students watched lectures at their convenience, thus freeing up more time for problem solving and group activities with peers and instructors (Foertsch et al, 2002). In 2004, Salman Khan remotely tutored his cousins through math videos uploaded onto YouTube, intending to supplement their classroom learning. Since they were publicly available, Khan received praise not only from his relatives, but from other students. Some educators also used his videos to flip their classrooms by assigning them for homework and having students engage in meaningful in-class activities. The viewership on Khans YouTube channel continued to grow, and in turn, he established Khan Academy. Khans vision was ...using video to reinvent education (Khan Academy, 2012); he provided students with self-paced lectures and helped teachers use technology to humanize the classroom by increasing peer and studentteacher interactions. Currently, Khan Academy has approximately one million users a month (Khan Academy, 2012) and over 3,300 videos in its library, along with associated skill-building exercises. One of its high-profile funders is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has allowed Khan Academy to remain a non-profit organization (CBS, 2012). Several educators credit Khan as the impetus for the flipped classroom movement (CBS, 2012).

FLIPPED CLASSROOMS Another non-profit organization, TED, launched TED-Ed, a service hosting animated video clips. TED-Ed invites educators to collaborate with animators to create story reels for effective video lessons (TED Conferences, 2012). The objective of TED-Ed is to ...harness the talent of the best teachers around the globe...(Empson, 2012, para.1), by providing them with

tools that encourage learning. It continues to expand its repository of videos, covering a range of areas, with 2.4 million viewers and 42,000 subscribers (Empson, 2012). iTunesU, a large catalog of free online content (Apple Inc., 2012), allows educators to create courses in an array of subjects and students to access them for immersive learning. YouTube EDU promotes itself as a global video classroom (YouTube, 2012) where teachers can supplement their classroom lessons by incorporating a broad set of videos. In the U.S., Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams are recognized leaders in using video podcasting to flip classrooms. Bergmann attributes flipped teaching with fostering better relationships and higher levels of student engagement and motivation (Tucker, 2012).

Theoretical framework

Flipped learning is a form of blended learning, which enables personalized instruction and increases learner self-directedness as students can focus on internalizing content with the aid of their peers and teachers (Osguthrope & Graham, 2003).

Sociological constructivism, which posits that social interactions combined with learner experiences help to construct new knowledge (Young, 2008), is supported through flipped classrooms. Since this model allows for more collaboration and hands-on activities, students can ...yield deeper levels of knowledge creation... (Palloff, 2001, p. 3). They progress through

FLIPPED CLASSROOMS content at their own pace; this demonstrates autonomy and initiative, key components of constructivism (Young, 2008). In flipped classrooms, student responsibility for learning is crucial, as they must learn to effectively manage their time to watch videos, confirm understanding of content, and ask clarifying questions (Fulton, 2012). Most of the literature also

highlights the teachers facilitator role, another tenet of constructivism, as teachers assist students in understanding information and creating new ideas (Tucker, 2012).

Gerstein (2012) purported that flipped classrooms fall within an experiential learning cyclical framework, where students learn from direct experience (Kolb, 1975). It consists of four stages: Experiential Engagement In flipped classrooms, learners interact with content through sensory-rich activities that encourage active participation. Concept Exploration To reinforce theoretical content, a rich multimedia environment with interactive websites, ebooks, simulations, and videos is made available. Meaning Making In class, learners build their own meanings by using blogs, video podcasts, and wikis that promote personal reflection and expression. Demonstration and Application Learners show what they learned and how the learning applies to other areas through multiple means of action and expression such as text, speech, illustration, music, or video.

By engaging students on a personal level, flipped learning, part of experiential learning, is a catalyst for the development of new skills, attitudes, and ways of thinking. Flipped learning also helps the development of 21st century learning skills, which include critical thinking and problem

FLIPPED CLASSROOMS solving, communication and collaboration, and information and media literacy (Partnership for 21st century skills, 2004).

Examples and case studies In their qualitative study of a flipped microeconomics course at Miami University, Lage et al (2000) emphasized how inverted classrooms support various learning styles. Students reported their ease in applying content in higher level thinking activities and their increased oneon-one interaction with the instructor. Strayer (2007) compared the flipped with the traditional lecture/homework classroom in two college statistics courses. In the flipped classroom, an intelligent tutoring system delivered video lectures outside class, and students completed project work in class to help develop concepts. The traditional classroom required students to attend lectures in person and apply concepts through assigned homework. After the results were analyzed, students in the flipped classroom were ...less satisfied with how the classroom structure oriented them to the learning tasks in the course... (Strayer, 2007, p. 199). Furthermore, flipped classroom students felt more unsettled due to the variety of learning activities they had to complete in class. In a blended learning classroom, Wyatt (2010) investigated 38 eighth grade students research methods. Teachers at Byron High School in the U.S. implemented flipped mathematics classrooms by creating original lesson videos uploaded onto YouTube (Fulton, 2012). Student feedback was positive in both cases; they benefited from online learning because of its portability, access to resources, and organization, and they preferred to construct their own meaning of the content in a face to face setting with their peers and teachers (Wyatt, 2010). In Fultons (2012) study, students worked at their own pace and easily kept up with material if they

FLIPPED CLASSROOMS were absent. Teachers appreciated the increased flexibility and interaction with students. Fulton (2012) also noted that math mastery increased 50% from 2006 to 2011 as a result of flipped instruction.

Thompson (2011) profiled elementary school classrooms that incorporated flipped teaching in math through the use of Khan Academy. Kami Thordarson, a 5th grade teacher at Santa Rita Elementary commented, Im able to give specific, pinpointed help when needed... (Thompson, 2011, para. 6). Struggling students received targeted guidance, while advanced students challenged themselves. Thordarson also noted a 10% decrease in students classified as average or lower in end-of-year tests. At Egan Junior High, Courtney Cadwell, a 7th grade math teacher, claimed that her class test scores improved more than 106 percent in half a year while implementing this model (Thompson, 2011).

At Okanagan Mission Secondary School, Graham Johnson used flipped teaching in his math classes by having students watch video lessons. He then coached and worked with small groups based on their personal learning needs. As a result, their grades increased 5 percent over the course of the year. Johnson described flipped learning as twofold: the best possible lesson is offered, even if teachers outsource lessons to better educators, and teachers can improve formative assessment methods in class, provide more guidance, and boost student confidence (Hammer & Baluja, 2011).

Flipped learning and the Humanities classroom

So far, preliminary research focuses on flipped classrooms in math, economics, and science, and Khan Academys online library mostly contains videos from these areas

FLIPPED CLASSROOMS (Thompson, 2011). Consequently, there are questions about how this model will work in other disciplines, such as Humanities. Can flipped learning produce the same positive results in a Humanities classroom, considering that it is more discussion and project-based? I propose further exploration; for example, in Geography, streaming video on plate tectonics can deliver content outside class so that students can begin to generate ideas. In class, they can interpret, synthesize, and formulate questions using an inquiry framework. Furthermore, students can review mapmaking skills by watching an iTunesU video, then apply this knowledge in a cooperative learning activity using GPS (global positioning system) devices to create a school campus map. To prepare for a critical challenge activity on school cultures, students can view a YouTube video on the Japanese elementary school system, then debate on Canadian and Japanese school systems in follow-up classes. These are a few possibilities that could be pursued; the key is to study the effect on student learning as the application of ideas stems from the introduction to online content.

Potential barriers

Barriers to flipped learning are prominent. A major obstacle is the digital divide, as schools with low socioeconomic status have limited access to technology. Sacha Luria, a 4th grade elementary school teacher at Rigler School near Portland, Oregon implemented this model, but she relied on her own money and donations to purchase six computers for 23 students (Butrymowicz, 2012). In addition, high-speed Internet access is an issue for people living in rural areas (Hammer & Baluja, 2011). Therefore, federal, provincial, or state governments must offer more financial assistance and infrastructure to these communities to avoid widening the achievement gap.

FLIPPED CLASSROOMS There are also pedagogical concerns. Some educators claim that flipped instruction merely promotes high-tech versions of memorization and drilling (Thompson, 2011). Others assert that systems such as Khan Academy advocate extrinsic rewards. Students may purposely repeat lower-level practice tests to win awards on the site, instead of formulating questions and applying concepts (The Economist, 2011). The counterargument is that Khan Academy or flipped instruction should be one of several teaching tools. Flipped teaching frees up class time for educators to explore other innovative methods to deliver curriculum. Khan and Bergmann share this viewpoint, and they argue that the key to effective implementation is to consider how the online videos and programs are integrated into an overall instructional framework (Tucker, 2012; Thompson, 2011). Khan states that flipped teaching provides more time for authentic and hands-on learning activities in class (Thompson, 2011). Bergmann expects his students to be active learners by coming to classes with follow-up questions or thoughtful comments about the material (Tucker, 2012).

Is flipped instruction only effective for motivated and high-achieving students? Thompson (2011) featured a ten year old student who attempted inverse trigonometric function problems on Khan Academy; however, this is not the case for other students. Some question if this model will fit students diverse learning needs. In response to these criticisms, Bergmann (2012) claims that students can receive more personalized help under this model as opposed to the traditional teaching model. Screen time also raises concerns, as this model requires students to frequently use computers or mobile devices to access content. According to a 2012 report compiled by Active Healthy Kids Canada, students in Grades 6 to 12 spend over seven hours a day on screens; the

FLIPPED CLASSROOMS recommended amount is no more than two hours daily (La Rose, 2012). A flipped teaching


model will add more screen time, thus further decreasing the physical activity levels of students. Finally, for teachers who choose to create their own videos, they face the challenge of delivering inspiring lessons that may not easily translate online. Tucker (2012) recognized the daunting task of producing effective four to six minute video lessons that not only explain concepts clearly and concisely, but also pay attention to fine instructional details and represent underlying conceptual ideas. Furthermore, educators must be provided with adequate and scheduled preparation time to construct these videos, as it is unrealistic for them to do this on their own time, considering all other teaching responsibilities.

Next steps

Flipped learning has much to offer teachers and students in a classroom setting; however, best practices need to be established. Proper training and orientation is crucial to help teachers and students understand how to use this model effectively. Parents must also be informed about the pedagogical background and specifics surrounding flipped learning to gain their support.

Future peer-reviewed studies must address the following questions:

How will flipped learning reach students in low-income schools with limited resources? Will this practice improve their academic performance?

Which ages are appropriate for this model? Is it developmentally appropriate for younger students to self-pace their own learning? Most of the literature focuses on university or high school students, and I believe this model can bring benefits to middle or upper

FLIPPED CLASSROOMS elementary school students if it is thoughtfully integrated with other instructional components. Are flipped classrooms more suited for students with certain learning characteristics? What are the features of course content that would lend itself to being delivered in this


manner? Strayers (2007) research hinted that this model may only fit certain classrooms or courses than others. Is this model effective cross-culturally? Would students in other countries reach the same levels of achievement? What types of resistance to change will faculty, students, administration, and parents experience?

Conclusion Flipped classrooms have the potential to sustain learning experiences which are flexible, collaborative, and engaging. Based on preliminary research, this model enhances the interaction between and among students and educators, contributing to a rich learning environment. However, the system has its detractors, and numerous issues must be addressed through empirical research; in particular, the accessibility for students in low-income communities and its use in other disciplines such as Humanities need to be critically examined. More substantiated experimental data on flipped teaching must be obtained to concretely prove its effectiveness and longevity.



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