Listening to the lecture in the classroom and struggling with the assignments at home – all of us are familiar with this situation. The assignment is due tomorrow and you have not figured out the last assignment? Your parent cannot help and even your best friend does not know the answer? The best option is to look for some help in Google and to write at least something without really understanding the exercise. Students can do anything to get a decent grade, and teaches understand that quite often this traditional system simply does not work and is not as effective as it may seem.
When a math teacher shows how to solve problems in class and asks if anybody has any questions, nobody really has questions because students have not got a chance to digest everything yet and to analyze if something is not clear. They face problems at home when they start to work on real assignments. And when they come to class next time, they are very much surprised to have a test on the new subject that they have not really understood. So, teachers found a solution and introduced an innovative teaching model – a flipped classroom.
An Innovative Teaching Model
The flipped classroom is a model which combines both internal and distant instruction. The classroom is ‘flipped’ because students listen to the lectures at home and solve practical problems later in class. The only requirement is that all the students who attend this class have a computer and the Internet access at home. Teachers prepare their lectures in advance and make videos and other additional materials that students need to familiarize themselves with at home. In class students and teachers spend time on working on various exercises and projects and having discussions.
During the class students have an opportunity to work in groups and collaborate in order to solve problems. Teachers’ goal is to be a consultant who encourages students to work independently or in collaboration with other students depending on a project. Since the flipped classroom model completely changes the approach to teaching, a lot of teachers do not switch to this model completely and either apply only some of the elements of this model or organize only several flipped classes during the term. Although this model is getting very popular among school teachers, it is mostly applied at the level of higher education.
What Are the Advantages of This Approach?
The flipped classroom model certainly has a number of advantages; otherwise, it would not have become so widespread. First of all, it gives students time to think during the on-line lectures. That is true: during the traditional lecture students’ goal is to make as detailed notes as possible, and they have often have no chance to pause and to analyze what their teachers is really talking about. When they come home and revise their notes, certain things might become unclear which causes problems with homework assignments. The on-line lecture does provide students with an opportunity to stop for a moment or rewind the video and watch it again in case some moments are unclear. Later in class teachers will see if there are some common problems that students face and spend more time on explaining the material again and to help students figure everything out.
Besides, students have a chance to collaborate more often which improves their social skills. Teachers benefit from the flipped classroom model as well because they can watch their own lecture and see what can be changed and improved and what can be omitted. This way, teachers can design better, more interesting lectures that will make students more enthusiastic about learning more about the subject and dig deeper. Students, in turn, like this concept because they can watch the videos when and where they want, and quite often they save a lot of time. A lot of parents are satisfied with this model because they can also watch the on-line videos and be fully aware of what their children are learning in school in order to help them with their classes. Another important moment is that students whose native language is other than English can take their time and watch these videos as many time as they need in order to understand the material completely.
Is This System Absolutely Perfect?
Certainly, the flipped classroom model has disadvantages as well. To start with, many teachers think that they might miss something very important when they make a video and have no direct contact with their students. Very often it is students who ask the right questions and remind teachers of some essentials that they have missed. Another moment that worries teachers is that some students are just not ready for studying independently. To be ready for the class students have to watch a video (or a few videos), make notes, prepare questions, and sometimes find additional information. This might be too much for those who struggle with completing even elementary homework assignments. Besides, if a student’s computer does not work or there is no way he/she can access the on-line video, this students cannot prepare for the next class and cannot participate in the extension activities.
What teachers need to keep in mind is that every class is unique: students in one class might enjoy the flipped model and will develop a lot of new skills, whereas students in another class will be more productive with traditional lectures. You are the teachers and you are the one who can see what is better for your students.