The problem with flipped learning….
There is a lot of chatter in the blogosphere about flipped learning, about the possibilities of engaging learners outside the classroom with activities that cover core content and therefore freeing up class time for higher ordering questioning, learning checks and feedback. This may involve learners watching a video clip lecture/presentation prepared by the teacher or completing some reading tasks, or learning key vocabulary via a definitions quiz, etc, but outside the lesson. Lessons become focused on assessment and deepening the reflection on learning.
For me one of the main challenges here is around learners’ skills in independent learning. Flipped learning seems to assume that learners can:
1. Listen to a lecture or presentation and identify key points
2. Take useful notes in a form that will be helpful for future reference
3. Read a text using appropriate reading skills and summarise key ideas
4. Utilise the internet for research purposes, selecting appropriate resources for the task
5. Reference sources appropriately
6. Use technology to access the tasks provided
7. Have the motivation and interest to do any of this in their own time!
And all of these without support, guidance or direction from the teacher, who is not at home with them. In my experience, many learners, especially at lower levels, are not well equipped for flipped. This is where the in-class flip could be helpful.
How the in-class flip might help
The in-class flip involves learners working independently and collaboratively at a range of stations with different tasks, while the teacher facilitates and asks stretch questions or provides support. After the learners have completed the whole round of stations, there is a whole class plenary, debate or discussion to pull out key learning points. Content is provided through the stations; learning is checked and assessed through the 121 interactions and the whole class end stage.
This model can be harnessed to help learners identify and hone the skills they need to use at home during flipped learning. Each station can focus on a key skill used in flipped learning:
1. A note making task incorporating graphic organisers followed by learners comparing notes and peer assessing them, as well as discussing their preferred style of notes for different tasks
2. A reading activity using skimming and scanning and then helping learners reflect on how they read and when those skills might be useful
3. A task on referencing, maybe a diagnostic quiz with multiple choice answers where you have to spot the right form of referencing for a website, an article, a book, a journal entry etc, followed up with explanatory notes and the answers
At each stage learners can identify key learning points for them on a log sheet, ready for the plenary slot. In the plenary, the teacher can pull out the main points and the different skills explored, then highlight opportunities for transferring them into flipped homework activities. Two great questions here are:
Where else can you use this skill or knowledge in class and at home?
When could this skill or knowledge be useful for you in your assignment or placement?
Through this plenary slot, teachers can help sell the benefits of flipped activities, the skills developed through them and how that links to the learners’ goals.
Flipped homework can then follow, with a self-assessment task attached, related to skills used and points for personal development. Study buddy activities, involving collaborative practice outside class can be a good way to develop learner skills and engagement, as there is a degree of motivation or pressure from being in a team or pair. For me, the in-class flip can be a bridge between conventional models and some use of flipped delivery, should you wish to explore it further. I would be very interested to hear from teachers who have been exploring the world of flipped learning in an FE context, in particular.