The Flipped Learning Model

Students enrolled in the educational psychology course could easily access the course via Blackboard and could view YouTube resources on personal hand-held devices or laptops, or could go to the on-campus library for access to desktop computers. The remedy for lost instructional lecture time was obvious. In-lieu of using in-class time to present a missed lecture, I could use video to record and then deliver lectures that students could watch as homework assignments that earned points.

I used video-recording software available on a personal laptop computer to record the cancelled class lecture due to a snow day. I converted the video file to an .mpv format file and uploaded the file to YouTube. I selected the Unlisted Setting on YouTube and shared the URL to the video by placing the URL within our learning course management system, Blackboard. I gave a homework assignment to students to view the course lecture video and to keep a written summary as documentation. Students’ responses to the assignment were positive, stating they preferred this method of delivery of lectures and specifying that they liked using class time to work collaboratively rather than sitting in class listening to lectures. For this reason, the flipped classroom became routine in the education psychology course, and I continued to incorporate the pedagogical tool of videos into the course content as homework assignments.

I made the decision to ground these homework assignments in the cognitivist learning perspective to draw upon students’ existing schema rather than provide drill and practice homework activities grounded in behaviorist learning theory (Moreno, 2010; Smaldino, Russell, and Lowther, 2012; Yilmaz, 2011). As the semester progressed, I used a mix of instructor-made videos to provide lectures and found videos from a variety of sources available online that served to augment student prior knowledge. The result was that when students viewed the videos I posted on Blackboard as a homework assignment, students came to class prepared to discuss the topic and collaborate on problem-solving projects using higher-order thinking questions aligned with Bloom’s Taxonomy (Moodley, 2013). According to the literature, this process is flipped learning.

The Flipped Learning Network (2014) defined flipped learning as an instructional practice that leverages technology to make direct instruction available in an individual learning space instead of in a group setting. A flipped classroom and flipped learning are different concepts because “flipping a class can, but not necessarily, lead to Flipped Learning” (Flipped Learning Network, 2014, p.1). According to Simba Information (2011), a flipped classroom is a philosophy.

In the flipped learning model, the role of the educator  shifts from the sole information source to a guide (Butt, 2014; DeMaio and Oakes, 2014; Educause, 2012; Flipped Learning Network, 2014; Flumerfelt and Green, 2013). When the teacher is a guide, students experience collaboration, communication, critical thinking, problem solving, analysis, application, and synthesis. As a guide, the teacher’s role aligns with teacher performance expectations such as questioning and discussion techniques, efficient use of instructional time, and providing authentic, engaging, and interactive learning experiences (Common Core Standards, 2012; The Danielson Group, 2011; Partnership for 21st Century Learning, 2012; International Society for Technology in Education NETS for Students, 2007; Yilmaz, 2011). According to Butt (2014), the flipped classroom method supports teachers in achieving these expectations by relegating class meeting time for interactive learning experiences, rather than teacher-led lectures.

According to Flumerfelt and Green, the flipped classroom offers the promise of a greater extent of quality time in the classroom. The reason, according to Flumerfelt and Green (2012), is that in the traditional classroom where lectures are an instructional practice, students are not as engaged as is possible in the flipped classroom model. In the flipped classroom model, students view a video lecture as homework and arrive at class ready to discuss and analyze the information learned in the video lecture homework. Passive learning activities are not a part of class time and that makes more time available for active learning activities (Butt, 2014). Students expect to experience lessons framed in technology and that expectation makes it difficult for this generation to tolerate lectures.

Fulton (2012) discussed the benefits of teachers making videos for their students. One of the benefits of a flipped classroom is the customization of content that results in a teacher-made video. Other benefits include that students who are absent can access material and not fall behind, and students who need to move at their own individual pace can do so. “As students determine how often they need to review a video lesson, students must constantly access their understanding of the material, building thinking skills”.

Tomlinson, as cited in Rebora, defined differentiated instruction as the process of attending to students’ learning preferences. “Flipping the classroom can be an effective instructional tool for differentiating instruction”. In the three semesters that I taught undergraduate educational psychology, course participants were psychology majors, education majors , and students taking the course as an elective. Differentiating the curriculum was essential to address each student’s field of interest, in addition to individual learning style. I found that flipped classroom model using video was an effective pedagogical tool for curriculum differentiation.  As a homework assignment, I made different videos available to accommodate the education majors, the psychology majors, and those taking the course as an elective. Once in the classroom, students worked in groups arranged by academic major.

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