As you have learned so far, in a blended learning model students learn:
at least in part through online learning, with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace
at least in part in a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home;
Furthermore, the modalities along each student’s learning path within a course or subject are connected to provide an integrated learning experience.
There are a number of different models that fall under blended learning approaches. One of those is called the rotation model. This involves a course or subject in which students rotate on a fixed schedule or at the teacher’s discretion between learning modalities, at least one of which is online learning. Other modalities might include activities such as small-group or full-class instruction, group projects, individual tutoring, or pencil-and-paper assignments. The students learn mostly on the brick-and-mortar campus, except for any homework assignments.
One approach to the rotation model is called the flipped classroom. This involves a course or subject in which students participate in online learning off-site in place of traditional homework and then attend the brick-and-mortar school for face-to-face, teacher-guided practice or projects. The primary delivery of content and instruction is online, which differentiates a flipped classroom from students who are merely doing homework practice online at night.
We will cover more of blended learning models in Unit 2.
Students working in isolation In order to be considered blended learning, students need opportunities to interact with peers and the instructor in live, real-time settings.
Students completing online content asynchronously at school and home Some educators believe blended learning is when you put your entire course into a learning management system and students work on it on their own. This model ignores some of the positive benefits of face-to-face interactions that can occur in a classroom.
A linear process Much of the learning is completed through a community of practice, and then knowledge and expertise are distributed among the group. So a participant may post to a discussion and log in several days later to see additional posts that broaden the discussion or cause the learner to consider things in new ways. This may then cause the learner to grapple with new ideas or work to defend their original thoughts. As such, it is definitely not a linear process.
Only for gifted students While blended and online learning are often used as an extension for students, in actuality all students benefit from blending learning models. This is due to the ability of the educator to individualize instruction and providing the opportunity for students to take ownership of their educational journey.
The philosophy of a Flipped Classroom is founded upon the four pillars of F-L-I-P. To learn more about this, look at this graphic and read below for more details regarding each principle.
F is for FLEXIBLE ENVIRONMENT
Flipped learning allows for a variety of learning modes. Educators often rearrange their learning spaces to accommodate a lesson or unit, to support group work or independent study. They create flexible spaces in which students choose when and where they learn.
L is for LEARNING CULTURE
In the traditional teacher-centered model, the teacher is the primary source of information. The flipped learning model shifts instruction to a learner-centered approach, where in-class time is dedicated to exploring topics in greater depth and creating rich learning environments. As a result, students are actively involved in knowledge construction as they participate and evaluate their learning in a personally meaningful way.
I is for INTENTIONAL CONTENT Flipped learning educators continually think about how they can use this model to help students develop conceptual understanding, as well as procedurally fluency. They determine what they need to teach and what materials students should explore on their own. Educators use intentional content to maximize classroom time in order to adopt methods of student-centered, active learning strategies.
P is for PROFESSIONAL EDUCATOR
The role of a professional educator is even more important, and often more demanding, in a flipped classroom than in a traditional one. During class time, they continually observe their students, providing them with feedback relevant in the moment, and assessing their work. Professional educators are reflective in their practice, connect with each other to improve their instruction, accept constructive criticism, and tolerate controlled chaos in their classrooms.
Just showing online videos While there are plenty of valuable online resources that can be tapped to extend learning, simply finding an online video and showing it to students is not effective. Teachers recording themselves delivering content and instructions, suiting their students’ needs, using online tools is more effective. Students should be active in their learning, not simply sitting in front of a screen.
A replacement of teachers In a flipped classroom, a teacher is more important than ever. To be effective, a teacher cannot just sit in the back of the classroom grading papers or taking a nap. Teachers are active all day, interacting with every student in every class.
All about the videos While videos are an important element to frontloading and extending learning outside of the classroom, it is the flexibility that the online content provides the student that is most important about this element. Students can access the material on their own time in a safe and comfortable learning environment.
A cure-all Although it provides students with the structure and flexibility to increase learning gains, it does not fix everything that is wrong with traditional educational delivery. It is just one tool that can be used to increase the effectiveness of content delivery and learning.
A one size fits all solution Each flipped classroom teacher is able to take advantage of the flexibility this approach provides, allowing for individualized instruction and serving each student’s needs. Students can access the learning materials at home, on a bus, in their room, on a couch, wherever it is convenient and comfortable.
Easy It takes time to create lessons and content. Then, it takes additional time to deliver it effectively, assesses performance, and provide individualized feedback. That takes time, but it also increases the chances of learning gains due to the effectiveness of the teacher.
Some innovations cause a seismic shift in traditional approaches to the industry. For instance, phonograph cylinders evolved into records, which changed to 8-tracks, then cassettes and DVDs gained in popularity. Now, digital streaming has completely altered the way recording studios distribute music as well as how we consume their product. This is called 'disruptive innovation' and education is not immune to these groundbreaking elements injected into the educational environment.
Online learning started by providing a service to students that did not have an alternative to access courses that were not available at their traditional school—advanced courses that schools did not offer; rural or urban schools that could not offer courses taught by a highly qualified teacher; students who were in need of recovering credits to graduate; and with homeschool or homebound students. Most of these instances needed distance learning environments to satisfy students’ needs—outside of a brick and mortar school or even an in-person teacher.
This is where a disruptive innovation seized an opportunity, by going beyond distance learning and the creation of blended learning environments—where rather than only learning online, or learning solely in the classroom, students could benefit from combining the two approaches to best address the needs of each learner.
Individualized instruction, tailoring content delivery to best serve each student that is fluid enough to allow students and teachers to work together on concept mastery through personalization has shown to be successful. As such, the industry has changed its approach to best serve those operating within it. Teachers and students have been able to benefit from technology companies, including providers of learning management systems (LMS), online assessments, digital gradebooks, and educational data systems. All of these elements have allowed students to enjoy a better user experience (UX) and teachers have been able to acquire more data and assessment materials to better assess learning gains and deltas which influences future approaches to instructional delivery and classroom management.
Although a flipped classroom has gained popularity and has been the topic of discussion lately, it has not existed for as long as you may imagine. If you are not aware of how this approach to teaching evolved, here is a brief history of how it all started.
In 2007, two chemistry teachers from Colorado, Jonathan Bergman and Aaron Sams, discovered that there was no easy way to deliver course materials to students who had missed class. They came up with an idea to 'pre-broadcast' their instructional materials using simple screen recording software to capture their PowerPoint presentations and then uploaded those recordings to YouTube where they were shared with their students.
Right away the two teachers noticed that the tenor of the classroom shifted. Students came to class prepared with a better understanding of the day’s material. Class time began to shift away from students passively receiving lectures. Instead, they found increased student interaction and greater discussion of the details of the individual lesson and how the subject of the day related to other lessons in the course.
In short order, a new pedagogy was born and its adoption throughout the world of education has been nothing short of astonishing.
Bergman and Sams give credit to Maureen Lage, Glenn Platt, and Michael Treglia for their paper entitled 'Inverting the Classroom' for identifying the opportunity for this approach back in 2000. Although at the turn of the century, there were not enough resources, tools or knowledge associated with 'inverting' to gain popularity, by the time Bergman and Sams employed this approach the concept really took off. Since that time, schools all over the world have been flipping their learning environments, benefiting all involved.
In their book Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student In Every Class Every Day (2012), they discussed a few reasons why teachers should consider flipping:
speaks the language of today’s students
helps busy students
helps struggling students
helps students of all abilities to excel
allows students to pause and rewind their teachers
increases student-teacher interaction
allows teachers to know their students better
increases student-student interaction
allows for real differentiation
changes classroom management
changes the way we talk to parents
makes your class transparent
is a great technique for absent teachers
can lead to the flipped mastery program
In addition, this book also sites five 'bad reasons for flipping your classroom'. It is important for teachers to move beyond these perceptions:
Because some guys who got a book published told you to Just because someone else tries something it does not mean it will work exactly the same for you.
Because you think it will create a 21st-century classroom Pedagogy should always drive technology, never the other way around.
Because you think you will become cutting edge Flipping does not necessarily use the latest technology.
Because you think flipping your classroom exempts you from being a good teacher Teaching is much more than good content delivery.
Because you think it will make your job easier Flipping will not make your job any easier.
Some classes, especially at the university level, have relied on a “readings at home, discussion in class” adaptation of the flipped philosophy for years. Rather, today’s teachers have leveraged flipped classroom software not out of necessity, but in recognition of an opportunity to better reach, engage, and inform their students.