When I sat down to write this article I remembered something. Way back in 2007 when I was doing GCSE Business Studies, I remember very vividly every lesson having to copy out pages of our text books. That was the lesson. Go to page 33, copy it out, if you finish before the end of the lesson copy out page 34. Homework was to copy out more pages.
While I did get an A* in Business Studies, I don’t remember any of that stuff that I copied out now – and as I’m not currently a billionaire, we can assume that method wasn’t particularly effective in the long run.
It’s well documented that doing and experiencing are much more effective ways to learn – the active learning model states that we remember 90% of what we do.
This concept is the basis of flipped learning – and I can’t help thinking, had my Business Studies teacher employed this technique, I could’ve been sitting next to Alan Sugar right now instead of Karren Brady.
What is flipped learning?
The flipped classroom or flipped learning is a pedagogical model which – you guessed it – flips the traditional lesson and homework setup. Instead of listening to a lecture or presentation and then doing exercises on the content at home, students prepare ahead of the lesson by reading, watching or listening to resources. This means that class time can be devoted to more productive work like projects, exercises and discussions.
The flipped classroom model was popularised in 2007 by chemistry teachers Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Samms at Woodland Park High School in Colorado. They identified a key problem with the way that lessons were traditionally taught – they don’t need to listen to their teacher and make notes. They need to be able to ask questions, get help and discuss ideas. In their flipped classroom model, students in class can work through problems and advance their understanding of concepts.
Technology and the flipped classroom
With interactive content like videos and collaborative online tools at its heart, it’s obvious that technology is a central part of the flipped learning strategy. If you don’t consider carefully how technology will be used to deliver your flipped classroom, your lessons could flip and fall flat on their face.
Here are some key things you should consider about the technology you use to deliver a flipped classroom model.
When it comes to the flipped classroom, as most of the prep and consumption of content happens at home, you’ll often find you have little control over which devices your students will be using to access resources.
In an ideal world – each student would have their own device which they could use at home and at school to create a consistent learning experience and move seamlessly between the two.
But it’s not an ideal world – it’s not always possible to ensure that each and every student has a personal device. So it’s a good idea to be as inclusive as possible – avoid using processor-intensive apps and content. Make everything as accessible as you possibly can, so that every student gets the chance to prepare for the lesson. Your content should be accessible from the latest iPad or from the computer in the local library.
For the teacher – a laptop or tablet with wireless and a decent webcam and enough welly to run some basic video editing software is a great investment.
If you are lucky enough to have the resources to supply each student with their own device, then tablets work great for flipped learning. There is a plethora of apps to help students collaborate and communicate with their classmates and teachers in ways that truly enhance the learning experience. Combine these with an interactive screen and an app like DisplayNote – you can create an immersive lesson where absolutely everyone is involved and engaged via their mobile device.
Apps and software
The tools you use really are at the centre of the flipped learning ethos. Without them, you’ll struggle to deliver your content in a way that makes it easy and engaging to consume.
You don’t have to throw a load of money at it though – a lot of the online tools you’ll need are free, simple to use and something that your students will order be familiar with.
The Office 365 suite is packed full of tools for the flipped classroom. From OneNote – the collaborative digital note-taking app – to Skype, there are multiple ways you can use it to engage and share content with your class.
And the best news is – Office 365 Education is completely free for both students and teachers. It comes with online versions of the Office suite, up to 1TB storage per user and admin tools like app management and compliance solutions.
Here are a few of the best tools from Office 365 that could transform the way you deliver lesson content.
Sway is awesome. I’m a massive Sway fan. Why make a boring old PowerPoint when you can make a Sway? A Sway is kind of a cross between a presentation and webpage – they’re interactive, engaging, and so easy to make with ready-built templates and an intuitive interface.
Not only is it a great tool to use for creating lesson content, it could also be an opportunity for your students to create something more engaging too. It’s perfect to present a report or project, and they can add images and videos to bring it to life.
A powerful team collaboration tool, SharePoint Online allows you to create a “site” to host all of your classes work, discussions and resources in one place. They’re so easy to set up and customise, and you can include a discussion area, a calendar, a class notebook, and loads more.
And if you’re teaching multiple year groups, you can create site for each one of your classes, meaning you can easily compartmentalise and organise relevant resources effectively.
If you need to share a video quickly, in a place that’s easy to find, then why not use the world’s most popular video sharing platform? It’s so easy to upload, your students will already be familiar it, and.
You can use the playlist feature to group content into topics, so that students can easily revisit anything they’re struggling with. Students can comment and start discussions on videos, so they’ve already engaged with the topic before class.
It’s also a great source of resources and ideas in itself – educators from all over the world use it to share content, so mine it for ideas or share other creator’s videos with your students.
And not to worry – if you’re not ready to broadcast your content to the masses, you can make videos unlisted or private, so only people with the link can see them.
The simplest tools are sometimes the best. It may just be a file hosting/sharing tool, but being able to keep all of your lesson resources in one place, with the ability to share with students as and when you need to, could be invaluable. Students can also upload their work to the shared space so you can access it to review it. It’s something I used at university with my dissertation mentor – it was so much easier than having to remember to bring a memory stick with my latest section on or email it ahead of the session.
There’s also now an integration for Office 365, meaning you can open Office Online documents and edit them, all within Dropbox – very handy!
Padlet it is an online tool that allows you to create a collaborative “notice board” where users can post files, text, video, sound or images. It could be a great way for your class to create a “scrap book” on a topic and share their work and ideas with their peers. You’ll have complete access over who can view the padlet and what they can do with it, as well as the ability to moderate posts.
The flipped classroom model definitely requires a shift in culture, but it’s easy to see the benefits. A lot of the technology required to make the shift is already there, and with a wide range of tools available for free online, it’s so easy to get going. Use these tools to their full capability and you’ll make the switch smooth, and you’ll be fully preparing the next generation for the world of work.