5 tips for implementing a flipped classroom

Student studying online
Pearson Online Academy

As the name suggests, a ‘flipped classroom’ essentially means flipping the traditional teaching structure on its head. Homework is focused on learning theory and taking instruction, and classroom time is optimised for discussion with the teacher and other students, as well as collaborative tasks and assignments.

In modern flipped classrooms, the at-home side of the learning experience usually takes place online, allowing teachers and students to benefit from high engaging digital resources. Pearson Online Academy, for example, includes many content-rich features that help to optimise flipped classrooms.

The flipped classroom is being used effectively in tertiary and secondary institutions, but before you jump to implement it in your classroom, there are some key things to consider. Here are five evidence based tips to help you get started.

1.       Make sure your learning plan comes first.

One of the benefits of the flipped classroom is that it allows teachers to create a dynamic multimedia experience for students. But as with any education model, the flipped approach relies first and foremost on a clear and robust learning plan. Only once you’ve defined this can you identify the techniques and tools that will best support your students to understand and apply the content, both in the classroom and at home.

2.     Do a technology audit.

Once you’ve defined your learning plan and identified the most relevant platforms and technology to support it, the next step is to make sure you and your students know how to use the necessary technology. It might be as basic as checking all your students have sufficient WiFi to support video content. They will quickly disengage if they can’t easily access the content at home, so make the online sessions easily accessible for all, and provide clear technical guidance for all platforms.

3.     Explain the model to students and parents/carers.

This approach to learning is likely to be quite a big change for many of your students so, before you flip the classroom, it’s important to clearly explain how it works, why you’re doing it and how it can benefit them. For example, one study has shown that the flipped classroom allows students to learn at their own pace at home and spend more meaningful time in person with their teacher. As you implement your flipped classroom, ask for regular input and feedback from your students – and their parents/carers – on the structure of both classroom and home learning sessions, and the materials and tools used. The more involved students are, the more likely they are to engage with and benefit from this approach.

4.     Optimise teaching time in the classroom.

Another benefit of the flipped classroom, according to teachers themselves, is that it allows them to make the most of in-person teaching time, making lessons truly targeted, collaborative and interactive. So instead of spending class time lecturing, design your classroom sessions to focus on particularly complex concepts, and to preview, review and embed the content students are covering at home. This can be done via Q&A discussions, debates, role plays and group exercises – the key is to keep it collaborative. Classroom sessions can also be used to help identify and spend time with students who need extra support.

5.     Keep students engaged and supported at home.

Once you’ve flipped, it’s important to keep students actively engaged and on track during at-home online learning sessions. One review of flipped versus traditional classrooms around the world recommends that teachers preview all online sessions in the classroom to spark students’ interest and provide a basic framework for at-home learning. The review also found that it’s best to keep the online sessions short and supplement them with clear instructions to help students stay interested and focused. Finally, consider using instant chat to allow students to ask questions remotely, and online assessment tools to track their progress and identify where more support or a different approach is needed.

The flipped classroom is a dynamic and collaborative learning method, and implementing one requires a commitment to continually reviewing and enhancing its effectiveness. Ultimately, its success is founded on a well-defined learning plan that can be adapted to the needs of your students and supported by the most relevant virtual and in-person teaching tools.