May 1, 2014 | Denise Douglas-Faraci , EdD
Snow days, emergency drills, assemblies, and celebrations are only a few distractors on the menu of on-the-ground class instructional time-grabbers. I managed these when I taught on the secondary level because administrators scheduled make-up time into the calendar. When I taught an undergraduate educational psychology course for a professor on sabbatical at an on-the-ground college, these time-grabbers challenged me to keep pace with the course syllabus. What was the remedy?
Students enrolled in the educational psychology course could easily access the course via Blackboard and could view YouTube resources on personal hand-held devices or laptops, or could go to the on-campus library for access to desktop computers. The remedy for lost instructional lecture time was obvious. In-lieu of using in-class time to present a missed lecture, I could use video to record and then deliver lectures that students could watch as homework assignments that earned points.
I used video-recording software available on a personal laptop computer to record the cancelled class lecture due to a snow day. I converted the video file to an .mpv format file and uploaded the file to YouTube. I selected the Unlisted Setting on YouTube and shared the URL to the video by placing the URL within our learning course management system, Blackboard. I gave a homework assignment to students to view the course lecture video and to keep a written summary as documentation. Students' responses to the assignment were positive, stating they preferred this method of delivery of lectures and specifying that they liked using class time to work collaboratively rather than sitting in class listening to lectures. For this reason, the flipped classroom became routine in the education psychology course, and I continued to incorporate the pedagogical tool of videos into the course content as homework assignments.
I made the decision to ground these homework assignments in the cognitivist learning perspective to draw upon students' existing schema rather than provide drill and practice homework activities grounded in behaviorist learning theory (Moreno, 2010; Smaldino, Russell, and Lowther, 2012; Yilmaz, 2011). As the semester progressed, I used a mix of instructor-made videos to provide lectures and found videos from a variety of sources available online that served to augment student prior knowledge. The result was that when students viewed the videos I posted on Blackboard as a homework assignment, students came to class prepared to discuss the topic and collaborate on problem-solving projects using higher-order thinking questions aligned with Bloom's Taxonomy (Moodley, 2013). According to the literature, this process is flipped learning.
The Flipped Learning Network (2014) defined flipped learning as an instructional practice that leverages technology to make direct instruction available in an individual learning space instead of in a group setting. A flipped classroom and flipped learning are different concepts because "flipping a class can, but not necessarily, lead to Flipped Learning" (Flipped Learning Network, 2014, p.1). According to Simba Information (2011), a flipped classroom is a philosophy.
The Flipped Classroom and Teacher Performance Expectations
In the flipped learning model, the role of the educator shifts from the sole information source to a guide (Butt, 2014; DeMaio and Oakes, 2014; Educause, 2012; Flipped Learning Network, 2014; Flumerfelt and Green, 2013). When the teacher is a guide, students experience collaboration, communication, critical thinking, problem solving, analysis, application, and synthesis. As a guide, the teacher's role aligns with teacher performance expectations such as questioning and discussion techniques, efficient use of instructional time, and providing authentic, engaging, and interactive learning experiences (Common Core Standards, 2012; The Danielson Group, 2011; Partnership for 21st Century Learning, 2012; International Society for Technology in Education NETS for Students, 2007; Yilmaz, 2011). According to Butt (2014), the flipped classroom method supports teachers in achieving these expectations by relegating class meeting time for interactive learning experiences, rather than teacher-led lectures.
A Rationale for the Flipped Model
According to Flumerfelt and Green (2013), the flipped classroom offers the promise of a greater extent of quality time in the classroom. The reason, according to Flumerfelt and Green (2012), is that in the traditional classroom where lectures are an instructional practice, students are not as engaged as is possible in the flipped classroom model. In the flipped classroom model, students view a video lecture as homework and arrive at class ready to discuss and analyze the information learned in the video lecture homework. Passive learning activities are not a part of class time and that makes more time available for active learning activities (Butt, 2014). Students expect to experience lessons framed in technology and that expectation makes it difficult for this generation to tolerate lectures (Kapp, 2007).
Fulton (2012) discussed the benefits of teachers making videos for their students. One of the benefits of a flipped classroom is the customization of content that results in a teacher-made video. Other benefits include that students who are absent can access material and not fall behind, and students who need to move at their own individual pace can do so. "As students determine how often they need to review a video lesson, students must constantly access their understanding of the material, building thinking skills" (Felton, 2012, p. 23).
The Flipped Classroom and Differentiation of the Curriculum
Tomlinson, as cited in Rebora (2008), defined differentiated instruction as the process of attending to students' learning preferences. "Flipping the classroom can be an effective instructional tool for differentiating instruction" (Siegle, 2013, p. 55). In the three semesters that I taught undergraduate educational psychology, course participants were psychology majors, education majors , and students taking the course as an elective. Differentiating the curriculum was essential to address each student's field of interest, in addition to individual learning style. I found that flipped classroom model using video was an effective pedagogical tool for curriculum differentiation. As a homework assignment, I made different videos available to accommodate the education majors, the psychology majors, and those taking the course as an elective. Once in the classroom, students worked in groups arranged by academic major.
Tech Tools for the Flipped Classroom
Students can access instructor-created screencasts via a learning management system, webpage, or email. Tech tools for the flipped classroom abound. Software tools include "Camtasia Studio, Captivate, Jing, PowerPoint, QuickTime Player, and Snagit" (DeMaio and Oakes, 2014, p. 342). iTunes lectures can include audio and video to align with learning objectives (Basham, Meyer, & Perry, 2010). Video is a viable tool for the flipped classroom approach and can either be created by the instructor or selected from online resources by the instructor (Educause, 2012, Fulton, 2012).
In addition to recording video lectures with a webcam, I also created videos by converting PowerPoint software files to .mpv files and uploading these to YouTube (Microsoft Corporation, 2014). I located videos that aligned with the curriculum from a variety of sources including YouTube and TeacherTube and posted these to Blackboard. Video is an appropriate technology choice to differentiate curriculum and individualize instruction despite time constraints (Kingsley, 2007; Lage, Platt, and Treglia, 2000).
The flipped learning model offers the potential for the role the instructor plays to shift from the sole source of information to that of a facilitator or guide who collaborates with students to expedite learning (Educause, 2012). The instructor can make students responsible for their learning, guide students, and identify student knowledge deficiencies while students are working on projects and problem-solving activities during class time (DeMaio and Oakes, 2014; Educause, 2012).
When my students previewed course content by watching a video as homework and used a graphic organizer to take notes from the video, they arrived at class ready to apply knowledge and information from the video to group work. As a direct result, I was no longer the sole source of information. Class management is imperative (Fulton, 2012). It was vital that my lesson plan included: (1) consequences and accommodations for those students who had not viewed the video, (2) rewards for those students who had viewed the video, (3) a student assignments to in-class work groups, (4) higher-level thinking questions for group work, (5) technology, and (6) instructor role as a guide and facilitator. As Fulton (2012) stated, "flipping is a way for students to access extraordinary teaching 24/7" (p. 2012).