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Flipped Classroom

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August 26, 2014

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Flipped Classroom

Driven by innovations in digital technologies, online courses and broader changes in:
+ Leadership thinking
+ Skill requirements of global multi cultural markets
+ Lateral problem solving needs
Teaching and learning are going through rapid transformation. These innovations are impacting knowledge and skills needed by private and public sector employers to retain their future competitiveness.

In this scenario, the Indian education system has much ground to cover. Our policy makers have to clearly articulate what employable knowledge and skills will be delivered by our education system and its execution plan. The vision must include the profile of new age teachers and how to address their continuous training and teaching skill building needs.

Digitisation and globalisation too, are converging to redefine the school and higher education landscape. Schools and universities, vocational education, training providers and corporate trainers have begun to offer Open Online Courses (OOCs). Our traditional schools / universities and their OOCs have significant content and quality gaps when benchmarked with Japan, Korea, China and Singapore. Teaching and learning systems also, in these countries, have undergone radical changes.

For example, Flipped Classrooms and Blended Learning is the new norm.
Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams in 2007 pioneered ‘Flipped Classroom’ model of teaching. The flipped classroom uses internet technology to leverage learning by students. The simple but powerful idea enables teachers to spend more time in classrooms interacting with students instead of lecturing. Lecturing is done via ‘teacher created lesson videos’ posted on the internet that students view at home.

It is called the ‘flipped class’ because the classroom/ homework paradigm is ‘flipped’. What is class work (lecture) is done at home via teacher-created videos and what is homework (assignments) is done in class.

See this delightful video highlighting the difference between a Traditional Class and a Flipped Class on www.flippingphysics.com
According to The Economist, philanthropists such as Bill Gates have such high hopes for the new model that they have given money to KhanAcademy, a tiny non-profit organisation based in USA. This means that more than 2,400 video lectures, on anything from Arithmetic and Finance to Chemistry and History, are freely available to everybody.

Converting lessons and lecture into online videos is very simple these days. Standard software installed in computers with a webcam can capture the computer screen, as a short video, and lets you share it instantly via YouTube. There are other free online video services available, but I am suggesting YouTube because:

  • YouTube is free and owned by Google and will remain in business for the foreseeable future.
  • You become ‘teacher to the world’ instantly
  • Basic edits are possible directly on YouTube.
  • You can disable comments to prevent inappropriate comments from being posted.

For students without internet connection, teachers can simply copy the videos on flash drives or DVDs
and the students can view, understand and learn the content at home.

‘Flipped Classroom’ changes the role of teachers completely. Instead of being the ‘wise person in class’ they play the role of a coach. Some teachers might initially resist adopting this methodology. But most teachers, keeping student interests primary, experience that flipped classrooms result in students doing better and that they are learning the content faster with deeper understanding.

For India to leapfrog into the future and produce globally competitive work force it is imperative that we adopt these new models which leverage technology with new age learning skills. Education institutions which profess to be pioneers must not wait for policy makers to effect changes. They must take the lead and pave the way for others to follow.

I suggest that
Step one, they provide resources and encourage their teachers to video record lessons / lectures during their normal teaching sessions in classrooms.
Step two: Post these video lectures on YouTube.
Computers with webcams and standard software are now available in most urban and even rural education institutes. So are internet connections. Only the desire and will do it is required.

Posting lectures online on YouTube provides immediate benefits:

  • Absent students can watch the lesson online. Even though some teacher / classroom interaction is missed, availability of the lecture online enables the students to learn the missed lesson at home and catch up with the rest of the class quickly.
  • Tuitions and special classes after school can be eliminated. Students can view the lesson online as many times as they like and learn at their own pace. In my view tuitions are a curse and must be discouraged. There is no better method than having the lessons available online.
  • l Absent teachers can post their video lectures in advance which students watch during regular class. Time tables then need not be rescheduled. The administration need not worry if, for the subject, there are few (if any) qualified substitutes available.
  • The world becomes your audience. You start receiving feedback from people all over the world. It will motivate and make you feel good.

Step three will be after the advantages of Flipped Classroom are understood and enthusiastically accepted by all stakeholders. The classroom layouts may need to be reorganised for lab work and assignments instead of delivering lectures. The videos of lectures prepared as step one will serve as ‘home work’ and students will have the responsibility to learn the content at home. During class they will do the assignments and clear their doubts assisted by teachers as required.

The world is changing rapidly and so are teaching and learning systems. Technology and new age learning tools are being leveraged by countries who want to remain competitive. They are continually reinventing the way they teach and learn. We urgently need to do the same.

I urge our policy makers to allocate adequate resources to leverage technology and retrain teachers on the new models of teaching and learning. They must also develop strategies to overcome stakeholders’ natural resistance to change. In the meanwhile pioneering education institutions and NGOs must take the lead.

Summary of links provided above
http://www.thedailyriff.com/articles/how-the-flipped-classroom-is-radically-transforming-learning-536.php (about Jonathan and Sam)
http://www.flippingphysics.com/flipping.html (Difference between Traditional and flipped Classroom)
http://www.economist.com/node/21529062 (The Economist)
http://www.thedailyriff.com/articles/the-flipped-class-conversation-689.php (Myths and Reality)

Ajay Aggarwal is author and master trainer of ‘New Age Learning and Reading Skills’. He also contributes through magazines his views on global trends and how India can leapfrog its education standards.
After a successful corporate career, Ajay co – founded Apsara Foundation in 2011. He conducts regular workshops for teachers and students on new age learning skills: mind mapping, long term memory techniques, managing study time, listening skills, whole brain learning, speed reading and preparing for exams. He helps education institutes absorb these study skills into their culture and curriculum. To-date Apsara Foundation has trained more than 550 teachers and 6000 students.
For more information visit www.apsarafoundation.org or write to ajay@apsarafoundation.org

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