Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Flipping the Classroom- Variations on a Theme

There has been a great deal of discussion on the concept of "flipping the classroom." In some circles, a flipped classroom refers to the pedagogy of the class whereby the traditional teaching model and the time it takes place, is switched or reversed.  What traditionally occurred in the lecture, may in fact occur outside of class perhaps through web streaming or accessing on-line resources for the course.

Another definition of a flipped classroom could be the orientation of the classroom, where the location of the faculty member (or student) at the front of the class and been reserved or changed.  In this case the traditional front-of-the-class lecture has been changed to the middle,back, or side of the classroom. Perhaps even a student or group could become presenters of the lecture.

Another variation of this flipped classroom theme, is a combination of both pedagogical methods and learning space orientation.  One intriguing example is utilizing a collaborative furniture arrangement by Steelcase called the media:scape.  This system promotes collaboration with two screen monitors that allow participants to share computer screens.  In this example, this system was simultaneously connected to a SMARTboard to share a Skype conversation with a Rhodesian national.  By changing and combining a learning space, an entirely different set of options is presented to both the faculty member, and the student.  

The class can watch an event on all the screens.  Later students at the media:scape could collaborate in a small group setting, independent of the class utilizing the SMARTBoard technology.  The key in using the concept of a flipped classroom is to prepare the teaching and learning curriculum and experience beforehand.  EDUCAUSE states in its document, "Things You Should Know About "Flipped Classrooms," the importance of understanding that the "model puts more of the responsibility for learning on the shoulders of students while giving them greater impetus to experiment." This is not only true for the students, but also for the faculty and teacher of the curriculum.  While many rooms on universities and colleges have traditional classrooms equipped with educational technologies, there are a growing number of learning spaces which are experimenting with the concept of flipping the teaching and learning.  It is important to understand that there variations in when we begin thinking about flipping classrooms, and that there are many factors and influences that need to be considered before innovating the teaching and learning process. Thinking outside the box can yield many innovating concepts originating from a main theme.