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Flipping shift your practice

Several years ago I adopted a flipped approach to learning in PE as we were short on devices and technology in our classroom, we were known as a 1:1 iPad school, one iPad in one school!  As a class we were aiming to move to a more digital environment but didn’t have the equipment, so the obvious choice was to move to a flipped model.  I was happy to find out that most (65 out of 70) students had access to computers and the internet at home.  Special arrangements were made for the learners who did not have access like loan devices, and access to school devices during and after school.

Several years on and educators are still talking about flipping the classroom and it was our topic at The Mind Lab this week, there was some great discussion around the concept and different ways it could be implemented effectively - so I thought I would re-visit again.  The idea behind a flipped model of education is that much of the content is covered outside of the classroom through bite sized (under 10 minute) video clips, quizzes and collaborative discussions.  Subsequently deeper learning can occur in the classroom through face to face discussion which can apply, evaluate and contextualise the content as well as enhancing collaborative activities, strengthening relationships, developing communication skills and other key competencies.  The pedagogical approach has to be adapted and the mode of teaching must change to a more student orientated practice as the content (often teacher led) part of the session has already been covered.  A flipped method fits in extremely well with many different learning areas but particularly links well and supports active learning experiences; more time for hands on learning and less time stuck in the classroom 

Flipping allows more time for active learning

However, flipping the classroom can be a time consuming process, to be effective, authentic and personalised for the learners that you see everyday you should be the one who creates the videos and resources that you are asking the students to watch - this adds a level of personability, and also allows you to add in your own humor, anecdotes and personal touches that the students enjoy - it is not suitable to simply direct students to 4 youtube clips on biomechanics that highlight some content and then answer a google form about it.  An integral element that is often missed is the collaborative online space that must support any flipped approach.  If this is missing it would also be possible to argue that the flipped classroom doesn’t adhere to the constructivist ideologies that we are advocating in much of our modern learning practices.  The teacher is still spending a large amount of time ‘feeding’ the learners predetermined content through online lectures, unless it is done with a conscious shift in the way teachers spend time in the classroom then it will simply turn into another way of doing homework on a computer, or allowing even more time for ‘jug to mug’ style instruction in the classroom, again a pedagogical shift is the key to making the integration of technology worthwhile, perhaps an antidote to this would be to ‘flip the teacher’ and allow the students to run the class, allowing constructivist approaches?  If a flipped classroom is utilised it needs to allow students to develop at their own pace and have access to a wide range of open educational resources that will allow them support and extension for it to be flexible and worthwhile.

This video is a resource that we shared which integrates some blended learning principles to encourage a step in the direction of classroom flipping.  It also highlights some important points around how flipped classrooms could go wrong, as well as suggestions on how they could work well!  A shift from traditional learning culture is the main element that will support this style of learning, not the technology or access to it.


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