The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on teaching pedagogies and strategies for learning assessment. In effect, the pandemic overturned even some of the most strongly held beliefs about K-12 and higher education. It highlighted that the frameworks that had so far been used for education delivery might no longer bring the best results. It made us realize that a change had been long overdue and the pandemic provided just the right push.
Amid the lockdowns and the move to online education, flipped learning emerged as an effective way to ensure the desired learning outcome. In very simple terms, with flipped learning, students discover new concepts on their own and the classroom time is used for more active and interactive sessions. This way, the teacher plays a more effective role as a guide, rather than just a repository of information. Plus, the class time is better spent in active learning and getting specific questions answered, which leads to more in-depth understanding of the concept.
Research shows that flipped learning leads to improved student performance, along with a positive impact on cognitive, affective and soft skills. Studies have also revealed that when students take charge of their own learning, teaching themselves new thing, academic outcomes improve. This self-regulation and self-directed learning were missing in pre-pandemic teaching pedagogies.
The pandemic has made it perfectly clear that adopting a flipped learning approach could be the most effective way to take education into the future.
Traditional vs. Flipped Learning
Traditional educational frameworks are based on the assumption of a scarcity of information, where the teacher fulfils the role of disseminating the required information to students. The reality of the current times is that information is abundantly and freely available. Flipped learning makes the most of this reality to give the power in the hands of the students.
The traditional framework also assumes that technology is either unavailable or bad for education. This has been resounding proven untrue on both counts. The pandemic was a gamechanger in this aspect. It highlighted the hugely beneficial role of technology in delivering highly engaging, effective learning experiences.
Flipped learning offers students are much more flexible environment in which to explore new concepts. Today’s students are not just digitally-savvy, they are digitally-dependent. For them, technology offer just the right tools for improved learning.
Another key assumption of traditional approaches is that students are perceived as blank canvases, with no prior knowledge of the concepts that the teacher will reveal to them. This assumption itself is flawed. Students can bring a lot to the classroom, enabling peer-to-peer learning and playing a much more active role in their own education.
Perhaps the most damaging assumption on which traditional frameworks are based is that students do not have the ability to self-regulate or self-learn and should not be even encouraged to do so. Flipped learning, on the other hand, places much more faith in the abilities of students, promoting greater responsibility for one’s own learning. At the same time, it does not assume that students have mastered the skill of self-regulated self-learning. So, teaching students this skill is a key feature of flipped classrooms.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made it abundantly clear that both information and technology are within easy reach of students and that they are not shy to use technology to gain knowledge. In fact, we might safely say that the pandemic has overturned the basic assumptions on which traditional pedagogies are based.
Studies show that there is high agreement among students on the effectiveness and benefits of flipped learning on skills development. With the flipped model, skills that are crucial for personal and professional success, such as collaboration, critical thinking, communication, creativity and more, are honed.
What Flipped Learning Offers Education
A student-centric approach to education shifts the focus from the teacher to the learner. This motivates students to explore concepts in more depth, ask targeted questions in class, and learn to solve problems in real-life, practical ways. When students come to class prepared, they can actually support their peers to learn better, while making the classroom experience, whether virtual or physical, infinitely richer. In fact, the flipped approach also inspires teachers to provide instruction in much more engaging and versatile ways.
For students, this approach offers much more flexible and personalized learning experiences, where they can explore learning materials at their own pace, go back to review earlier materials or move forward to new ones. It promotes active learning, which ensures greater engagement, while teachers can spend their time with the students in applying concepts to real life situations to promote more practical learning. Teachers are in a better position to provide individual support to students, rather than being restricted to only disseminating information.
A significant benefit of the flipped approach is that it is much more cost-effective for both students and the educational institution. eBooks are much more affordable than print textbooks for students. In addition, they gain access to rich online educational resources, which would not have been possible through only print and physical learning materials.
Possibly the most important benefit is that flipped learning offers much greater transparency for parents. They can keep track of exactly how their children are performing at school, while the communication between teachers and parents is also eased and improved through the use of technology.
Content is King, and not just for marketing purposes. The type of content you provide and the means through which it is distributed can make a huge difference to education too. When we put greater faith in the abilities of students and give them the power to steer their own learning path, they do take charge. The only caveat is that we provide them the right technology tools and engaging, interactive content to do so. Playing a more active role in one’s own life is always a good thing.