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‘Flipped classrooms’

The ‘flipped classroom’ or ‘flipped learning’ has become mainstream in school-based and higher education, due primarily to the ease which learners are able to access materials through electronic and mobile devices.

The original concept of ‘flipping’ uses some of the ideas discussed around scaffolding learning and is helpful for teachers seeking more structured and meaningful ways of engaging groups of learners. The model reverses the typical lecture and homework or follow-up reading elements of a course, so that short video-lectures, narrated presentations or podcasts are viewed by the learner at home before the classroom-based activities. This means that the classroom element is repurposed into much more of a workshop style approach, focused around applying learning, questioning and clarifying concepts, and engaging in interactive activities.  

This approach needs as much preparation (if not more) than the traditional lecture, but is particularly helpful for complex concepts. Learners are able to learn at their own pace, rerun lectures, skip over sections they know and read around the topic in their own time. The online resources are also available afterwards for revision and consolidation.  This overcomes some of the disadvantages of the traditional lecture in which learners have to take notes, gain understanding from handouts and pay attention throughout. Class time can be used more effectively to ensure learners have understood and mastered the topic. Lecturers’ classroom role changes to one of facilitator rather than didactic teacher. Rooms and equipment need to support the flipped approach and it does involve a culture shift amongst the student and staff body. 

The Higher Education Academy report into ‘Flexible pedagogies’ (see further reading) provides a comprehensive overview of the changing nature of learning involving technologies.


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