Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Flipped Classroom Explained

There has been a great deal of information lately on the World Wide Web and in the media on the flipped classroom approach.  I still get the sense that many educators are unsure of what this actually means and entails.  I myself have done quite a bit of research as of late to gain a better understanding.

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There are two main components associated with the flipped classroom approach to teaching and learning.  The first is that students watch lectures and consume other forms of content outside of school at their own pace while communicating with peers and teachers using online tools.  The second is that students in school work to actively apply what they have learned through concept engagement with assistance from the teacher.  For a  more detailed description and an infographic on this approach check out this great article at MindShift.  There is also fantastic information at The Digital Sandbox including this description: "The flipped classroom provides avenues for teachers to become facilitators of learning and move away from the sage on the stage approach to teaching.  The goal is to extend learning time conversation to outside of class through threaded discussion."

Below is an introductory video on what it means to "flip" your classroom.  Please be aware that there is a brief product pitch at the end of the video.

For more resources on the flipped classroom approach visit Cybraryman's page on the topic. So what are your thoughts on this topic?  I would love to hear from those educators that have found success with this. Will schools and educators find value in this approach and begin to flip their classrooms?  Or will the fear and anxiety associated with standardized testing and new teacher accountability reforms stop this phenomenon from taking off?


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  2. Does the flipped classroom model shift the focus from instruction to learning? Both are very different, and the first does not necessarily guarantee the second. But I think the value in this instructional model is that it does provide for a more deep exploration of ideas in the face to face experience-although the true challenge (and where professional development should focus) is in developing that deep level of engagement with the teacher. I'm not sure that most teachers are prepared for that. But, given a high quality experience after the initial exposure to the content/concepts, I think this process offers great potential in more deeply engaging students in learning, rather than just instruction.

  3. Eric, I'm not a fan of the term "flipped classroom." As the creator of Learn it in 5, an educational video site, I value short videos as educational tools. Mandating them as homework, which is essentially what the flipped classroom does, is something I don't favor.

    I agree with David's comment about videos offering deep exploration of ideas and engaging students. I use videos almost daily in my class, and I encourage students to review them outside of class. Forcing students to watch video lessons at home is simply another form of homework and lecture, which are two useless elements of education.

    Thanks for a thought-provoking post.

  4. The flipped idea seems nothing new to me - is this not just an updated version of having your students read ahead and then come to class to discuss?

    I see this being one tool that can benefit some students with access to resources but the idea that many claim as this is innovative and will change education is a bit silly for me.

    Like you use the term "consume content" - the flipped classroom is an updated version of consuming information for homework.

    Also, people have been using audio/video for learning centers within the classroom for years... the increased availability of quality videos will help with differentiation but I do not believe that this is the needed change for education (and I realize you have not stated this but others have taken Khan Academy and stated this).

  5. I see the flipped classroom as a way to use digital tools to enhance the learning experience for students and ultimately differentiate instruction. I use Moodle in my classroom for students to view video tutorials, turn in assignments, as well as move at their own pace when working on assignments. This allows me to direct instruction in a way that is not a one-sized-fits-all approach by always lecturing or demonstrating in front of the class (don't get me wrong, there is a time for that, too). If a student is ready to move on, they go to Moodle to get started - or if they don't understand, they can go to Moodle and re-read or re-listen to a tutorial/explanation and I am able to assist each student and work with them on their understanding wherever they are at in an assignment.

    I currently do not assign students to watch these videos or upload their work as homework, but it does give students the flexibility to do so if they want.

    I am a Visual Arts teacher and strongly believe that hands-on learning is key in every classroom. Students learn best if they apply skills learned through hands-on activities. As long as the tools being used in a flipped classroom does that, I think it can be beneficial to both teaching and learning.

  6. Eric, I used the Flipped Classroom last year and doing it again at my new school this year. What I like about the flip is the flexibility in pacing of the material. My students choose what they want to do when they walk in the door so I have had as many as 9 different activities going on at the same time in a 45 minute period. If I used any part of that time for direct instruction, it would almost eliminate that self pacing. My students are more energetic when they arrive to class because I am no longer setting the agenda.

    It has also allowed me to have more conversations with my students about the material. Students are developing their own methods for solving problems (even though they have seen my way on the videos) and pulling me aside to explain it to me. Before they just did it on their own and I didn't see their thinking until a HW or test came and then it was too late to fix any mistakes.

    Yes, stuff like this has been done before. But, because of the other types of technology available (Moodle, voicethread, discussion boards, skype) I think this current trend is making the time more meaningful for everyone. No one has a set method because the best part is you can make it entirely your own. Some are using the videos as the instruction, others to supplement instruction, others are letting the kids make the videos and some have eliminated the videos are gone to experiential learning. I feel like those who criticize it most are the ones that have never seen it, but have simply read about it. I encourage those who want to try it to find someone who is doing it and sit in their classroom for awhile.

  7. I am familiar with the classroom flip. I attended the presentation at the ISTE conference last year. I think it is yet another "trend" in education. Educators are always looking for the next best thing, the next fix, the next cure. What we really need to do is vary our practices and use a combination of best practices. Yes, the classroom flip can be an excellent tool in some instances, but it is certainly not the only way to guarantee student engagement and achievement. Moderation is the key. Flipping the class is not the the tool to end all tools. Integrating various practices that work for you, your class, and your district is a better way to boost student achievement.

  8. The flipped classroom is based on cognitive engagement. Which in turn is the basis for traditional classroom instruction...Follow my thinking...

  9. Computers are only assistants and a good teacher’s will always be needed.
    However social networks such as facebook and YouTube as well as great resources including Wikipedia and Wolfram-Alpha are here to stay so that educators must use them in the teaching process. Many academics are posting great educational videos and materials online. The only problem is to sort the good ones from the rest and present them in an organized manner.

    This effort is being done by: which presents the best educational videos available on YouTube in an organized, easy to find way to watch and learn.

    They are classified and tagged in a way that enables people to find these materials more easily and efficiently and not waste time browsing through pages of irrelevant search results.

    The website also enhances the experience using other means such as recommending related videos, Wikipedia content and so on. There's also a Spanish version called

    This is a project that YouTube should embrace itself, with curated content from academics and maybe using a different URL (Youtubersity?) so it won’t be blocked by schools.

  10. We flipped our entire school. We did this because you have to put education ahead of technology. However, we use technology to streamline our processes and to improve our services. When we have students who are at-risk or even non at-risk do homework at home we often place students in an environment that is not suitable for the job to get done. When processing the material, I would rather have the expertise, technology and support around our students at all times. When doing homework at school, students receive the school support necessary to get the job done. Parents and students don't have to struggle through the assignment without the expert teacher or the resources available. By using video, we also eliminate many of the problems that we have faced regarding absenteeism, expertise, collaboration and personal learning choices.

    1. I have just started this journey and I am seeing amazing results. I am a middle school math teacher in Oklahoma. I have reached students with the flipped classroom who have not done a single assignment for me this year. We are teaching the YouTube generation and this is reaching them. I have taken baby steps but on my first test, which is the hardest one all year my Algebra I class scored a class average of 90%. The test score speaks for the process. It is a lot of work but it is starting to look like a blessing to my room. I have parents and other staff members that are using my video with their special ed kids, the ESL kids, the kids in In-school suspension and the kids that are just plain absent. I am not pulling a ton of kids for reteaching. Parents are finally able to help their kids with concepts that they don't remember from when they where in school. I am planning on using it next year when my state changes to common core. We will be making a big jump over a huge gape and this method will help me fill in a some of the gaps.

  11. GREAT post! Thanks for sharing! Will share this with our community.
    /Jenny @emagistering

  12. Using class time for engaging, interaction and learning, not presentation...
    To Flip or Not to Flip your classrooms ? Teachers should know why, when and how, with the end in minds, not just black and white...more discussion here :

  13. Really enjoyed your article. I truly see the "flipped classroom" as the next step in education and mobile devices as the vehicle to achieve that. When teachers assign math and science homework that students (and parents) have difficulty completing at home, students return to school with questions and fall even farther behind with the next round of lessons and skills. The idea of flipping the classroom truly maximizes the teacher's and the learner's time in the classroom for purposeful instruction, practice, and productivity. Love the idea of using Camtasia for these videos. I am also quite fond of the app Explain Everything.

    Please know that your Flipped Classroom image is attributed incorrectly. This was originally an image taken from my MS classroom and posted on the techchef4u blog: ( I would greatly appreciate attribution to the original post. Thanks so much.

  14. I am a Visual Arts teacher and strongly believe that hands-on learning is key in every classroom. Students learn best if they apply skills learned through hands-on activities. As long as the tools being used in a flipped classroom does that, I think it can be beneficial to both teaching and learning. medicine shoppe canada online

  15. Hey Eric I was preparing for a "Curation and Creation with Care" session at TCEA and did a reverse image search on my Flipped Classroom image and noticed it was inaccurately attributed - would love for you to change the image credit to my linked post (the image is actually from my 7th grade classroom): Thank so much!

  16. Thanks so much! I sincerely app-reciate it. I actually saw it change before my very eyes ;)