What is a flipped classroom?


A flipped classroom (or flip teaching) reverses the traditional teaching methodology, giving students access to new material at home, usually via screen casting, while class time is used to assimilate this knowledge via debates, problem solving and critical thinking. When flipping a classroom, the teacher is able to offer more personalized guidance and interaction with students, instead of lecturing.

In short:

  • What? Replacing homework with lecture.
  • Why? More time for critical thinking, problem solving, and inquiry during class.
  • How? Tab casting: combining tablets and screen casting to deliver writing and voice to students online.

The flipped classroom: key components

There is no single structure or model to follow when turning traditional teaching into a flipped classroom. Flip teaching is used as an umbrella term to cover (almost) any form of teaching that replaces homework with prerecorded lectures and class time with practical work. Many educators are experimenting with different approaches to the flipped classroom model. However, in every flipped classroom approach, there are two key components: educational technology and active learning.

Key components of a flipped classroom

Key components of a flipped classroom

The evolution in educational technologies has driven the increased adoption of the flipped classroom model. Current mobile and internet technologies bring a wider range of educational resources to the student. The out-of-the-class portion in flip teaching is now for example supported by screencasting and vodcasting (video-on-demand casting), bringing a much richer experience to students, while having their lectures at home. Additional advantages are that students can watch the lecture at their own pace and communicate with teachers and peers via online discussion boards.

A classroom flip provides opportunity for active learning and student engagement through a wide range of hands-on activities, like individual assignments, discussions, debates, workshops, problem solving and critical thinking. In this scenario, the teacher functions as a guide and coach while students assimilate their knowledge through both individual tests and collaborative efforts.

Myths about flip teaching

As with every success story, every now and then some criticism on the flipped classroom model emerges. However, usually this is based on misinformation. Let’s address some typical flip teaching myths and misconceptions:

Flip teaching is NOT:

  • Replacing the teacher with videos. On the contrary, the role of the teacher becomes more important and active.
  • An online course. Students do watch lectures online (or at least in a digital format) out of the classroom, but the true benefit of the flipped classroom model lays in the fact that this knowledge is assimilated in class via learning through activity and engaging the students.
  • About students working with structure. In his role as coach and guide, it’s the teacher’s responsibility to keep the classroom structured with a right balance between individual exercises and group interaction.

A more elaborate response to the recent criticism can be found here, together with some real life examples why the flipped classroom model works.