HomeeducationAre flipped classes any good?

Yesterday evening, as I was drifting along the superficial levels between sleep and wakefulness sickness tends to encourage, I tuned into a story on the news.

This method reminds me a lot of the awesome
YouTube channel, Crash Course. It’s worth
checking out, as are the other channels Hank
and John Green are involved with.

There’s a local school giving something called “flipped learning” a try in their math classes. From what I gathered, it entails doing homework in the classroom with the teacher’s and a teacher aide’s assistance, and watching the recorded lecture at home. It’s also worth mentioning that students are encouraged to work together, so the kids who get the material can help those who are struggling. That, in turn, solidifies the concepts in both parties’ minds.

Only the individual student and teacher knows where the individual’s grades stand, and there’s none of that “Do the problem on the board” nonsense that has traumatized so many kids in the past. The idea is to work at the student’s individual pace with minimal judgement, and to cater as much as possible to each learning style.

Sounds an awful lot like the way I wish more of my math classes had gone. I personally preferred the high school classes that encouraged peer on peer instruction to lecture based.

That’s part of why I liked so many of my literature and science classes. We often worked in groups to interpret the information, and could get others’ inputs to further enhance our own.

So, the question remains, does it actually work? Has this teaching model been in place anywhere long enough to show results?

Well, as I’d said at the beginning of the entry, I wasn’t exactly 100% conscious during the news story last night, so I don’t know how long that individual school had been doing it, but it has been in action in other schools around the country.

It turns out, this is a relatively new concept. It was first conceived back around 2007, and as with all things education related, it took a while to begin entering the mainstream. That said, while there are individual classrooms that have converted to this type of teaching, there are still relatively few studies done on its results.

The few that I was able to find demonstrated mixed results. At this point, it’s difficult to tell whether the results were because of the unique demographics of the classrooms studied, the teaching methods employed, quality of material or even the quality of tests given. It seems this is one of those methods that needs a little more time to ripen before any solid results can be discovered.

However, the pros do seem to outweigh the cons, so far as methodology goes.

Individualized teaching is vital for all kids, whether they’re classified as learning or developmentally disabled, or “normal”. However, since test results are kept confidential in many of these classrooms, and there’s no pressure to get up in front of the class to work out problems, that could take a lot of the humiliation and destruction of self esteem out of the learning experience of many LD kids.

It also offers valuable opportunities to better learn interpersonal communication skills between both peers of the same age, and how to relate with teachers more effectively.

Struggling kids also get the chance to get help without needing to be singled out by leaving the classroom or staying after class. It levels the social playing field, and I can see how that could have a very positive impact on the act of learning.

As for the cons, the only three I’ve found that hold any water are resistance to change, the transition for teachers and students to this new method and the difficulty faced by lower income families to afford the technology necessary for watching the lectures at home.

If this method does become mainstream, those first two problems will take care of themselves, simply because humans are great at adapting, but that last one will remain a problem as long as things like institutionalized prejudice, poverty and the increasing gap between classes stay in place.

While I write this, I can also see how this can be very difficult for several kids on the autism spectrum and those with nonverbal learning disabilities, as well. Depending on the class culture, those kids could end up suffering from more attempts to relate to their peers. Then again, if the class is accepting, supportive and understanding of the issues at hand, these methods could help them grapple with their weaknesses, as well.

As for the flipped classroom model in general, though? I think it shows a lot of promise. It’ll be interesting to see where it goes.

What do you think? Has anyone had experience in either teaching or learning in a flipped classroom?

Suggested Articles
What is the Flipped Classroom Model and Why is it Amazing? (With infographic)

New Study on the Flipped Classroom by Concordia Portland’s Dr. Jeremy Renner Shows Mixed Results

‘Flipped classrooms’ may not have any impact on learning

Flipped Classrooms and Social Studies

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