The flipped classroom is a pedagogical model structured around video lectures, which are watched by students on their own time outside the classroom. Classroom time is then repurposed into an interactive workshop where students openly discuss lecture content, apply and assimilate knowledge, and collaborate with one another during hands-on activities.

In a flipped model, students gain exposure first and process information second. Students move away from being passive note-takers and move toward active participation. The instructor also becomes more involved with the learning experience, as opposed to exclusively disseminating information at the front of the classroom.

Flipped classrooms have moved past the experimental stage and are no longer just an educational fad. As school professionals increasingly adopt the flipped-classroom model and rapidly growing video-platform technology, the learning experience prospers. For example, an annual online learning trends report by Project Tomorrow and Blackboard Inc. shows that 60 percent of flipped learning teachers believe online learning increases student motivation, according to the educational nonprofit organization Project Tomorrow.1 Consequently, there's no denying the positive results and improved student outcomes, from Central Michigan University2 to Penn State University.3

The Flipped Model Makes Use of Technology

Flipping the classroom continues to influence higher education and champion the positive effects tech trends have on academia. Data by the Campus Computing Project reveals that more than two-thirds of institutions believe "lecture capture" is an essential tool for delivering instructional content, according to Lecture capture is a lecture recording solution that enhances the learning experience. Universities use software to execute the flipped classroom design.

Mike Garver, a professor at Central Michigan University, acclaims flipping the classroom because of the significant boost in student grades on his most difficult test, according to EDUCAUSE, a nonprofit association committed to enhancing higher education with information technology, also highlights the success of a blended and flipped accounting class at Penn State. The class's 1,300 students use in-class time for open discussions, listening to guest speakers and hands-on problem solving and are supported by student assistants.2,3

Like blended learning, flipping the classroom challenges conventional pedagogy with the goals of improving student engagement and creating greater student outcomes. Is it effective? Are students responding? What's its value? Here's why flipped classrooms are permeating the academic space, from high school classrooms to college lecture halls.

It Fosters Independence

The flipped classroom structure provides students with increased flexibility yet greater responsibility. Students learn time management skills by allotting time to view the video lecture and prepare for the class session by completing online quizzes or assignments. Not only can students control how and when they watch the lecture video, they control how they respond to the lecture and their learning pace, taking ownership of their overall learning experience. Students can pause, replay and fast-forward video segments to absorb information and get extra clarification. In a traditional lecture class, students focus on transcribing the lecture into notes, which can prevent learning comprehension and reflection.

It Promotes Accountability

Because students are required to watch a video lecture on their own time and complete follow-up tasks before coming to class, they learn to be accountable. Students who aren't prepared to actively discuss material or apply what they've learned to a hands-on activity are unable to participate. Knowing they have to collaborate and exchange ideas based on the lecture material serves as an incentive.

Students must engage with the material on their own. Then they can convene in the classroom to practice what they've learned, ask questions and clarify content. The model encourages students to go above and beyond with student-led discussions and peer-to-peer instruction for a heightened classroom dynamic.


It Offers Immediate Feedback

The flipped structure enables students to receive immediate feedback on post-lecture quizzes and assignments. The feedback guides students to review any essential points they missed or rerun complex parts of the lecture for additional clarification.

EDUCAUSE shares how a physics professor at Harvard University deployed the flipped model. He also developed Learning Catalytics, interactive software that fosters student discussions and feedback. Feedback helps students identify specific areas of concern or confusion and re-assess the material further, whether that's done independently or in class.

A Flipped Classroom Can Help Meet Low-Income Student Needs

Flipping the classroom is one way to get low-income students excited about learning. For Greg Green, the principal at Clintondale High School in Clinton Township, Michigan, the flipped school model remedied student failure rates and an educational system that wasn't working at this school. The problem isn't a lack of effort or money, said Green, "but the misalignment of our school structure."4

In need of a change, Clintondale High School used screen-capture lecture-recording software and flipped the class structure. Students accessed lecture videos on the school website and YouTube. They came to class ready to discuss what they learned, and teachers were available for one-on-one help. Clintondale even partnered with a network of schools across the country and globe to connect their students with true subject matter experts in any field. The results? Green said attendance increased, discipline rates decreased, failure rates dropped significantly and state test scores improved.

Teachers Can Better Assess Student Progress

This type of model also provides another way to measure student progress and success. After students complete online quizzes and assignments pertaining to the lecture, the instructor can evaluate how well the students understood the information. The teacher can then tailor the in-classroom projects and activities to reflect student progress. For example, an activity or discussion can concentrate on an area where students are struggling, as evidenced by completed pre-class assignments during out-of-the-classroom preparation.

Students Are More Engaged

In the traditional classroom setting, the instructor stands at the front of the classroom as students listen to the lecture presentation. The flipped-classroom setting promotes deeper learning and understanding. Vanderbilt University's Center for Teaching identifies in-classroom academic practice and interactive analysis as "higher forms of cognitive work." Flipping learning leaves room for achieving in-classroom goals and higher-level cognitive activities, including debates, data analysis and synthesis activities. As a result of a flipped classroom, students not only learn how to understand material, they master it.


Resources: Photo1; Photo 2; (1) Online Learning Report (2) Still in Favor of the Flip (3) Things You Should Know About Flipped Classrooms (4) My View: Flipped Classrooms Gives Every Child a Chance to Succeed