We are a couple of months into the term now, and I thought it would be a good idea to catch you up on how things are going with my flipped classroom. If you want to know more about why I decided to do this, you can check out my three previous posts on the subject - part 1, part 2 and part 3.
For those of you who may not be familiar with the concept, the “flipped classroom” is a teaching method made popular by the Khan Academy. Traditional classrooms are a combination of long lectures and demonstrations by the teacher, with application of learned concepts done through homework assignments, tests, exams and projects. The flipped classroom turns this model on its head; lecture materials are provided via video and other multimedia, and assigned as homework. Students complete the video lessons on their own time, at their own pace. Then, classroom time is devoted to assignments and projects, and applying the concepts learned in an open, creative environment. The teacher’s role is flipped as well, from instructor and lecturer to facilitator and coach.
When I decided earlier this year to flip my classroom, I admit it was a bit of an experiment. I’d never taught this way before, and I really didn’t know how it was going to work. But I had researched many case studies that showed the flipped classroom as an extremely effective method for retention of concepts and ultimately, that students were ultimately more successful when they were allowed to learn this way.
Here are a few thoughts on how it’s going so far.
A relaxed class means relaxed students.
One of the things I teach in my video production class is Adobe Premiere Pro, a professional video editing software. For the uninitiated, it can be a daunting and complicated tool to learn. There are lots of steps and plenty of room for error if you’re new at it. It can be a frustrating learning curve. I used to teach the software by standing at the front of the class, pointing and clicking at things, while students tried to follow along. The result was usually three groups – the ones who were bored because I was moving too slowly, the ones who were lost because I was moving too fast, and the ones in the middle (usually by far the smallest group) who got it on the first try.
Then I’d set them off on their own to do their homework assignment on their own time, and I’d end up with an email inbox full of questions, students running up to me at the start of class or catching me in the hallways, worried that they were going to fall behind because they were struggling to understand what we’d covered in class.
Now, I provide all of the software instruction in the form of a series of YouTube videos. Each one is between 3-7 minutes in length. I assign the tutorial videos as homework, and students can work through them at their own pace. They can play them on their iPod Touch, computer or smart phone, and then follow along in the software. Then they come to class armed with the skills they need to produce their creative projects.
The result is, I have a nice, happy, relaxed class of students who are achieving more than they ever thought possible after only 5 weeks of training. They understand the software because they have been able to learn it at their own pace. Things like learning disabilities and language barriers are less of an issue, because everyone is working within the parameters of their own personal comfort level.
My students are confident and most importantly they are having fun learning new things. Attendance in class is at an all-time high, in fact many of them are in class and already working when I show up!
Perhaps the best result happened to me today, when a student came up to me and said that he really appreciated this “flipped classroom”, that it’s allowing him to be more relaxed, confident and creative.
Kinda makes it all worthwhile, eh?
[photo credit Hani Amir]