Case study: Flipped Classrooms with chalopadho
Three young individuals who emerged from this system of education recognised the gap between what children study and what they experience in the real world in learning and began Chalopadho in 2012 to address them. The aim was to give schools a way to change the status quo and to help them move from a traditional teacher-centric to a dynamic student-centric experience as well as to integrate students’ everyday lives with the classroom to make learning fun and applicable. They felt that the best way to do this was the flipped learning model.
Standing in front of a classroom of students hunched over desks arranged in rows, a teacher delivers a class on India’s struggle for independence. Occasionally, a couple of students look up from their notes to ask questions. At the end of the hour, the class takes down the night’s homework assignment which involves reading pages from a thick textbook and answering the questions at the end of the chapter. This dramatic, defining period in India’s history is reduced to a dry but familiar exercise. The teacher, though acutely aware that many students have not understood the day’s lesson, does not have the time to address them all individually during the 40-minute class.
This scene from a traditional classroom reflects how a child’s innate curiosity to find out more about India’s national movement has been replaced with a focus to write notes aimed at securing good marks. A disconnect has set in between what children study and what they experience in the real world. The understanding of a connection between India’s independence and the socio-political environment the children experience today does not evolve naturally.
Three young individuals who emerged from this system of education recognised these gaps in learning and began Chalopadho in 2012 to address them. The aim was to give schools a way to change the status quo and to help them move from a traditional teacher-centric to a dynamic student-centric experience as well as to integrate students’ everyday lives with the classroom to make learning fun and applicable. They felt that the best way to do this was the flipped learning model. An online learning platform would provide connections, gamify the learning process and let kids express themselves.
This would be followed by activities and discussions in the classroom encouraging them to apply their learning. Chalopadho discovered amazing synergy with Shiv Nadar Schools leading to a year and a half long partnership that provided amazing insights into how children can learn.
To apply the flipped model, Chalopadho works very closely with the school. Once the school shares a lesson plan that includes the key learning outcomes, the Chalopadho team extensively researches the topic and uses the lesson plan to prepare the online module. This is followed by a review process by the teachers where they suggest or make changes. The process acknowledges that the key component of the flipped model is the children’s experience on the platform before coming to class.
The online module is made available to the children a few days before the chapter is due to begin in class. The connections, games and the leaderboard keep the kids engaged and the teachers receive actionable data that they use to personalise learning in the classroom. In class, students make small groups and participate in activities like experiments, roleplay and debates. There is no note-taking, only learning through exploration, discussion and activities.
The success of the model is evident in the responses from the students, teachers and parents engaged in this experience. The classroom engagement of students has substantially increased especially amongst those who used to be less involved. The students follow teachers after the class to ask questions and say they want the model to be followed in more subjects. They are also spending a significant amount of their time at home on Chalopadho. Ninety percent of the students now prefer flipped classes through Chalopadho over traditional classes and eighty-six percent feel better prepared for class after their Chalopadho experience.
What makes it work?
The Nobel Prize winning neuroscientist Eric R. Kandel, in his seminal book ‘In Search of Memory’ says that concepts are best understood and remembered when incoming information is associated meaningfully and systematically with existing memories and well-established knowledge.
Taking a leaf out of Dr. Kandel’s book, Chalopadho ensures that everything the children learn from its online platform is connected to what they already know, as well as to other subjects and their lives. These connections make the information feel real. The concept of ‘untouchability’, usually considered dry, is associated with the movie Lagaan where discrimination against the character ‘Kachra’ takes place and is overcome. Connecting daily news to the textbook not only enhances the children’s recall value but also prepares them for life beyond the classroom. News about the recent elections in the chapter ‘Why do we need a Parliament’ helps them understand their world more accurately.
The focus on creating connections between concepts helps mould individuals who internalise information and are able to apply the concept learned today, tomorrow or even a decade later. Games are another effective method for improving understanding and increasing a child’s engagement with concepts. Game players regularly exhibit persistence, risk-taking and problem solving, all behaviours that should be regularly demonstrated in school and life.
One of the most popular games on the platform is the ‘Cryptic Hunt’ where students make connections and identify concepts to advance through various levels.
Sherlock is another favourite. Taking inspiration from its famous namesake, students must solve mysteries using mathematical theories. Students must also create ‘Mind Maps’ for each chapter. This helps them connect concepts and summarise the chapter in their own way.
To achieve high engagement, Chalopadho gamifies the entire learning experience. Students get points and badges for engagement and can follow their progress relative to their classmates on a leaderboard which acts as a good motivation and incentive system. Healthy competition is part of social behaviour and enhances the child’s learning and interest.
Chalopadho uses engagement and performance analytics to give teachers actionable data to personalise classroom teaching. This data helps teachers identify each student’s strengths and weaknesses ensuring that no gaps are left in a child’s understanding and education.
These analytics also highlight common misconceptions that need to be addressed. The teacher at SNS found that around 68% of class 6 students in her class thought that the majority of body weight comprises fats when it is actually water.
When the classroom is flipped, students come prepared for class and the primary role of the teacher is to monitor, guide, and support the learning process. The teacher helps the students engage with the material, reflect on it and synthesize or evaluate its content in a productive, rather than receptive manner. The teacher is transformed from an instructor to a mentor. Instead of telling students how electricity is generated, they are encouraged to make windmills in class to generate electricity. In maths, instead of solving questions on data handling, students can collect and analyse real data about their classmates and present their findings. In social science, students can do role plays to understand the emotions and scenarios helping them relate better to the concept.
To flip or not to flip?
The most convincing sign that the flipped model used by Chalopadho works, comes from the teachers. Ashu Ratra, a Science teacher at SNS Noida said, ‘I strongly feel that the flipped lesson has helped students understand concepts better and apply their knowledge in application based questions.
This has resulted in remarkable improvement in the SA performance of children who otherwise needed remedial classes. I hope that we continue to build a strong foundation to implement the flipped strategy.’ Rupa Pal Chowdhury, another teacher at SNS believes that ‘Flipped classes are making the children independent and creating an autonomous environment in the class. I have worked in schools with other educational websites as well but I would pick Chalopadho over them as this portal is completely tailormade according to our feedback.’
Chalopadho: is an online platform that makes learning more connected, gamified, social, personalised and application oriented. The company is trying to revolutionise the Indian education system by introducing flipped classes to schools in classes 6th to 10th. Co-founders, Shikhar Sethi, Karan Gupta and Abhimanyu Jhajharia, say that theirs is not a technology company trying to transform education, but an education company leveraging the power of technology to improve school education. The team is expanding and working tirelessly to maintain a standard of quality that befits their goal of helping schools embark on this next step in the field of education. Chalopadho is based out of Delhi and its co-founders hold one simple belief – students can learn on their own; we, as teachers, just need to inspire them and harness the power of curiosity.