Today’s students will be tomorrow’s citizens, workers, employees, learners, and leaders. It is obvious from the rapidly growing technology that almost all of our students will own hand-held computers that are connected to the Internet by the time they are adults. This technology demands that our education system modifies the priorities and methods used to prepare students for adulthood.
What will the needs be of tomorrow’s adults? It seems obvious what they WON’T need: a head full of facts. What skills and knowledge will be necessary?
1. Critical thinking skills. With the plethora of information and opinions thrust upon our citizenry, it is vital that our students learn to think for themselves, to critique, to filter, to prioritize, to apply, and to draw conclusions.
2. Reading and skimming skills. One of the main modes of learning is and will be reading, particularly of nonfiction text. Students need to be taught, and have the opportunity to practice, skimming skills since they will have to wade through volumes of text to find what they are looking for.
3. Independence: With a computer in one’s hand, the world of learning is only a click away. Students need teachers who will expect them to take care of themselves and take charge of their own learning. The leaders of tomorrow will achieve this status primarily through teaching themselves.
4. Writing skills: As web presence becomes more and more crucial to success in all vocations, tomorrow’s employee and entrepreneur must possess the ability to communicate clearly in writing. Our students need to be taught expository writing skills and given ample opportunity to practice those skills, particularly in real-life situations.
5. Multimedia Communication Skills: With the explosion of video and other visual media on the Internet, tomorrow’s leaders will need to be able to produce professional looking presentations in order to effectively share with peers. Teachers need to explicitly teach video production, photography, and presentation software as well as give students ample opportunity to practice and get feedback.
6. Netiquette: From a very early age, our schools need to help students know how to behave properly online.
7. Organizational Skills: With the explosion of information and opportunities comes the responsibility to organize data and activities. Students need to be taught to organize or else they will be rendered useless to their employers, and they will experience personal demise.
So what are the implications for our schools? Flipping the classroom is just one important change that needs to occur. In the traditional classroom, the teacher delivers instruction via lecture to a classroom full of students who sit by passively taking notes, often copying from a PowerPoint presentation. Then, the students are expected to take this new “knowledge” and apply it for homework, usually in the form of an essay, reading assignment, worksheet, comprehension questions, etc. The assignments are collected, corrected, etc. and the student receives a grade.
In the Flipped Classroom, the homework and the lecture are flipped. The instruction is delivered to the student by means of a video. This video is watched as homework either through the Internet, a video file on the computer, or a DVD projected on a TV. The ensuing assignment related to that lecture is then completed in the classroom.
What are the benefits of flipping the classroom?
1. Students are able to pause, rewind, re-watch the lecture. This is handy when the student has to go to the bathroom, is a slower learner, and/or needs repetition or review.
2. Students are expected to be independent learners. There is no teacher giving a misbehaving student the stink-eye during the lecture. It’s up to the student to pay attention to the video lecture and be prepared for quizzes and activities. Students must initiate the watching of the video.
3. The classroom is becomes more human. Since input is dealt with when students are alone, class time can be used for more social learning activities like one-on-one help from the teacher, group activities, and project-based learning.
4. Stuck students no longer deal with the frustration of having no one around to help. When students get stuck in the traditional classroom model, they ask parents to help on homework. Many parents don’t know how to help. Some students ask for help from peers. This often results in, at best, a lack of independence and learning because the helping student merely gives the answers.
5. Absent students are able to get missed instruction. No one ever misses a lesson in the flipped classroom. In the traditional class, absent students have gaps in their learning.
6. Students are more engaged because they like videos. There’s something a little more fun and interesting about using a video to learn rather than sitting in a hard chair listening to the teacher talk.
7. Students can get involved in the production process. Teachers can assign video production as part of the project-based in-class instruction.
8. The teacher is afforded the opportunity to take on more of a coaching/mentoring role. Teachers are freed up to work one-on-one and in small groups with students who are lacking in organizational, critical thinking, writing, and reading skills.
9. Learning becomes more individualized as students are all learning at their own pace. One model of the Flipped Classroom uses mastery-based learning. Students watch videos until they are able to pass assessments on each concept. Advanced students get less bored and learn even more. Challenged students learn more content because they are not moved on in spite of their huge gaps in learning.
10. Review becomes simple. Just re-watch the video.