The Flipped Classroom – Outcomes from the Joint Study Process

The Flipped Classroom – Outcomes from the Joint Study Process

The Flipped Classroom – Outcomes from the Joint Study Process

As part of the work of the focus group made up of a number of teachers involved in or interested in the “flipped classroom” model, we participated in a multi-stage process in which we attempted to deepen our understanding of the model, examine it (through the experience of others and through our own experience), boldly address the difficulties and problems, and offer some creative solutions

Let’s start from the end – the main conclusion that we reached was that the “flipped classroom” model has to undergo “cultural adaptation” for Israel.

But let’s go back to the beginning:

During the Chanukah break, an intensive learning encounter for about 12 educators from across the country was held, in which we were exposed to leading technological trends in the EdTech field. Further details of this meeting can be found here.

Following the meeting, a group was formed by six educators and technology specialists, interested in the “flipped classroom” model, and together we set out to investigate it: we viewed lectures and classes about the model and based on the model; we read articles and critiques; we produced films and watched each other’s productions, providing feedback to one another; and we met, online, a number of times, to study the issues together and work through the subject.

For my own education, and as part of the process, I took part in the Education Cities “Studio” meeting in Binyamina, which dealt with the subject, and was both enlightening and fascinating.

I will try to summarize the conclusions that we reached in the course of the group’s learning process, in the hope that these will be of benefit to other educators as well:

  • The model was originally devised in keeping with United States educational approaches, and in its original form is not necessarily appropriate for Israel. One of the main points raises by the group was that, since completion of homework is not treated as seriously by students here in Israel as it is elsewhere, we cannot be certain that they will view the films before the lesson.
    • One possible solution is to have the students view the films at school, during a lesson devoted to this purpose, without this encroaching on the study time for the topic. If there are a number of films adapted to various levels, this may also meet the need for differing responses to variation among students, in school time, including during the lesson itself. Another solution would be to add to each film a unit that would check the viewer’s understanding, perhaps in the form of a short multiple-choice questionnaire, which would ensure that the students had indeed viewed the film.
  • From the experience of some members of the group, we learned that some students may not understand the film completely, yet may be embarrassed to raise their difficulties in class.
    • A possible solution is to provide an online method (forum/group) for clarifying problems before the lesson, including the possibility of anonymous posting.
  • Some of the students may encounter technological problems when watching the first videos, and as a result become hesitant about participation in the model.
    • A practice session should be held in the classroom, which will allow the students to become accustomed to learning in this mode. Also, it would be better (at least initially) to upload the video to YouTube, which is something that the students are used to and which is available on a variety of platforms, rather than to some other platform that may offer greater functionality, but may be problematic for viewing on certain devices.
  • Preparation of the videos may take a great deal of the teacher’s time, and it is not clear whether the investment is justified.
    • A possible solution is to find alternative methods for production of the videos, based on existing videos (tools such as Popcorn or EduTube), sharing films among teachers, and even involving the students in the production process itself.
  • One of the questions that arose dealt with the suitability of the model to different subjects and topics within each subject.
    • It is important to adapt the use of the model to topics that seem appropriate to the teacher. In addition, “flipped classroom” films can be used to teach syllabus items for which there is not enough class time, and they may also be used by students who miss a certain lesson to catch up on the material taught.
  • Of particular concern was the issue of whether students would cooperate with the move, or perhaps show opposition to it, particularly in classes in which overall cooperation is not optimal.
    • Some of the suggestions that came up dealt with in-depth preparation work in class – explanations, preparation, persuasion, involvement of students in deciding on the move, and – where appropriate – informing and involving the parents as well.

From the experience of the participants, we discovered that inclusion of such a model in classroom teaching may “undermine” traditional learning patterns, and generate discussion – which, perhaps, is the point. Students can examine their own approaches to learning and the nature of knowledge; the teacher will look at his approaches and methods; and the teaching-through-learning process will become more conscious and more directed.

And perhaps that’s the hidden advantage of such a move – to move beyond “learning” to “thinking about learning.”

It was fascinating.