December 3rd, 2018 E-Learning

Wondering how to use the flipped classroom effectively for your blended classroom?

The traditional classroom structure has teachers delivering lectures during class time, and learners working on problem sets at home. However, online classes offer instructors a way to reverse that scenario by delivering class lecture content over the Internet, and using class time to work more directly with learners.

Flipped classrooms have many demonstrable benefits for learners. For one, learners are less likely to become frustrated when watching videos at home. If there is a significant point of confusion, they have an opportunity to discuss it directly with their teachers in class.

This allows teachers to provide instant feedback to learners, and spend more time addressing problem concepts than delivering overview lectures. Since most problems arise as learners start translating theory to practice, a flipped classroom is a more optimal use of learner time.

If you’re looking for different ways to put flipped classrooms into practice, here are eight ways to make use of your class time.

1. Problem sets.

“Learn by doing” is a phrase that applies especially well to adult learners. Covering a concept in theory helps learners find their bearings, but most don’t understand a lesson until they put it in practice. For many subjects, problem sets are a primary way to give learners the experience they need after the lesson material has been covered by lecture.

However, as anyone who can remember struggling through math homework can testify, problem sets are often hardest to accomplish on your own. Accordingly this is one of the first ways teachers began experimenting with a flipped classroom. By finishing problem sets in the class, learners can talk through the areas they don’t understand while the instructor is present, and when they have a full class period to work through the difficult material.

2. Peer reviews.

If not “learn by doing,” then how about “learn by teaching”? Peer reviews give learners a chance to assess each other’s work, and form a healthy dialog about ideas and styles. While instructors will need to offer guidelines about constructive feedback and responding to criticism, they can be an excellent way for learners to understand how their fellow classmates approach the subject material.

3. In-depth lab experiments.

Think about a chemistry lab or an advanced mathematics course. Many of these classes already rely on long lab-style classroom setups to ensure learners gain the practical experience necessary to absorb the subject matter. However, many of these courses also lose the beginning segment of their course to lecture-style lessons that take away from the time that could be spent in course work.

Adult learners in particular rely on hands-on experience to retain information. This is because adult learners prefer subject matter that feels directly applicable to their daily experiences. The more course time can be spent on applied knowledge, the more adult learners will benefit.

4. Speeches and presentations.

Public speaking is an anxious task for many learners, often due to a lack of practice. With more time in the classroom, instructors can dedicate some portion of the class not only to presentations, but also to coaching learners through their preparation. The added guidance means learners can present more confidently, and have a better reference point for how to prepare for future presentations.

5. Classroom debates.

Debate has been a classical teaching tool for millennia. By setting up two opposing viewpoints and assigning learners to each side, students learn must dig deep to grapple with the key concepts behind each perspective.

Structured debates can also be less intimidating for some learners than presenting, as they don’t require learners to present solo. In fact, debate can be excellent group learning projects, with teams forming each side of a debate, or even the two opponents discussing the subject together beforehand.

6. Class discussions and current events.

Discussion sessions are a more casual way to engage learners with subject matter, and can avoid any participants from feeling put on the spot. While any subject matter can be covered through discussion, current events make for especially good material. Classroom discussions offer learners an opportunity to ask questions of each other and the instructor, and can help learners vocally talk through problems or ideas they haven’t fully formulated.

7. Scenario walk-throughs.

We’ve discussed various ways to implement scenarios through an online course, and that may be where you would like to start. But there’s nothing like practicing a scenario face-to-face for the lesson to sink in.

Imagine customer service or sales training. After covering a scenario in a lecture, you could have learners practice responding to that situation in class. A learners might conceptually understand how to respond to an irate customer, but the scenario will feel more real when confronted by an angry classmate.

8. Skill development.

Some subjects require learners to get their hands dirty if they’re ever going to gain enough experience to master the subject material. This especially applies to any course that might traditionally include shop or lab time.

For instance, during the brief period of time I spent in culinary school, a five-hour class usually consisted of an hour lecture followed by four hours in the kitchen. While the material covered in the lectures was important, it could have just as easily been covered at home, which would have left an extra hour for learners to practice in a fully-equipped industrial kitchen, and might have allowed us to try more complex recipes. It’s not hard to imagine the same principles applying to a chemistry course, a woodworking class, or an art seminar.

Flipped learning optimizes the time learners spend with teachers.

Flipped classrooms don’t work for every application. However, when they can be implemented, the results are often highly positive for learners and instructors alike. Lectures are the most consistent and the most reproducible part of a course experience. Because of this, it makes sense to record and distribute them through an LMS so that in-person class time can be spent responding to the ever-changing needs and interests of the learners.

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