Flip Class : Redefining the Roles of Teachers

”Flip classes” or ”inverted teaching” is a new way of teaching that focuses on activities in classrooms rather than lectures by using instructional videos and technologies.

Who invented flip class?

The idea came from Jonathan Bergman and Aaron Sams, two teachers who first made some videos to teach students who had missed classes. The videos became surprisingly popular when students who had not missed class actually used the videos to study and review previous classes. The two creators of this new trend saw in this surprising fact a new way of teaching.

What is flip class?

Flip class is basically a learner-centered classroom based on the use of information technologies, a concept opposed to the traditional lecture-centered and teacher-centered classroom. In a more practical manner, it:

  • Offers the students the opportunity to watch instructional videos at home and to learn from those videos instead of having a lecture in class.
  • Allows class time to be spent on activities and homework instead of lectures, things that were usually done at home.
  • Gives time to the teacher to help the students to master the knowledge in a more personal manner by helping them in class individually when necessary.
  • Offers the opportunity to use technology to teach the students through videos but also allows them to find their own information with the different tools that are now offered (such as the internet).
  • Allows students to work together on tasks that were traditional given as homework to be done individually at home.

As an image is worth a thousand word, this info-graphic from Knewton found on edudemic summarizes and provides incredible information on what the concept of flip class is :

Why use flip class ?

As my own opinion is in favour of flip class, I will not cover the arguments against it’s use, but I will try to show why I believe it should be used and adapted for different types of teachers and subjects.

  1. Development of autonomy and criticism :As many have shown through blogs and videos, this type of teaching allows for a great deal of autonomy and possibilities to develop criticism and skills. For example, as Jon Bergman has shown with young students on one of his blog posts, the use of flip class encourages students to dig in the different information and problems you offer them and it helps them to use a critical eye to look for the right information.
  2. Individual monitoring and cooperative working :It also allows the teacher to focus on individual needs of students as they are allowed more time for practice and personal questions that in normal lecture-centered classes. This is also great because by doing the exercises in class, the students can help each other during the exercises since they are all together doing it, and not in distant homes. Shelley Wright experienced this spontaneous cooperation and talked about it in her article The Flip: End of a Love Affair. As much as she might not like the idea of a flip class, she still shows the endings of it.
  3. Helps certain types of teachers and redefines their roles :The idea of flip class can also be an advantage for certain types of teacher. Actually, some teachers may be good at helping students and guiding them on the right path but are afraid of having a one, two or three hour lecture. Some teachers may be great activities planners and managers but are not so good at giving lessons for an extended period of time. This may seem weird because the perceived role of a teacher is for him to be in front of a class, teaching students, but it goes beyond that : a teacher must be an example and a good monitor for students. This may help certain people who could be great teachers when individual or group monitoring is needed but don’t feel comfortable speaking in front of a crowd. By doing videos, that, opposed to a lecture, can be remade and rethought, these people would have a great advantage.I will go even further by saying that I believe that a good teacher is not someone who is good at talking in front of people. I have seen shy teachers that made a greater difference in the lives of students than a skilled orator. Many skilled orators didn’t lead people to a good life. Just think about Hitler… I think that a good teacher should be a good leader and a righteous person who loves his students and wants them to make the best of their lives by giving them the right tools to meet that life with strength. I believe that flip class can offer this type of teaching and life preparation in a greater way than any lecture made by the greatest orator.

A word of warning.

Aaron Sams is right when he warns teachers on chemicalsams to be careful with the use of this type of teaching. He warns them not to take the principles of this teaching as a whole, religious and ritualistic technique, but as a philosophy on how to teach. I totally agree with Aaron Sams and, as Shelley Wright experienced and described in her article, I believe that flip class should be one of many steps and not something unique in itself. I believe that flip class should be a step leading to autonomous learning and strong teacher monitoring in a cooperative environment where students, having the right tools, could see the world a different way and be ready for what awaits them.



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