|Flipping The Classroom: Bringing Homework to the Classroom and the Classroom to the Home|
|Written by Daniel L. Friedman|
|Sunday, 05 February 2012 16:49|
Thirty years ago, the only acceptable source of academic information and learning were textbooks, manuscripts, and lecture halls, seemingly it was unimaginable and unacceptable to deviate from this status quo. The library is a sacred haven and probably the only source of knowledge and information for students and teachers but today, it would be equally unimaginable and unacceptable for both students and teachers to excel in the academe without the internet. The ubiquitous World Wide Web had virtually replaced the library and as a result, this evolution created new words like googling and youtubing, jargons that now form part of our vocabulary. In the academe, professors are also partaking from this technological evolution through podcast lectures and by publishing their researches in on-line libraries. Internet which was peripheral in the past is now pivotal as every academic information is now practically available on-line and it is utterly unacceptable not to be a part of this virtual information system.
In evolutionary theory, the survival of the fittest is basically founded on how an individual can succeed in adapting to the environment. Today, practically everything from business, economics, health, governance are all defined by the Information and Communication Technology. As early as year 2000, a report of the Web Based Education Commission which was released through the US Department of Education has declared that "the traditional classroom has been transformed". Hence, it is prudent to say that Information and Communications Technology is the most essential and enabling adaptive device suitable to the present demands, offering eclectic advantages to the society.
In an opportune manner, Mr. Salman Khan provided this adaptive device and has brought e-learning to all levels of learning. While working as a senior analyst at a hedge fund, he started creating tutorials in video form late 2004 to tutor his cousins who were living in another state. Khan, who has degrees in mathematics, electrical engineering and computer science from MIT and Harvard University, quit his job and continued creating videos providing tutorials in math, science and other topics for children ages 6 years old and above. Recently, he also started creating tutorials for professionals on business and economics which are published through You Tube videos and can also be accessed through the Khan Academy website www. Khanacademy.org. (CNN Money, 2010).
This innovative undertaking had recently reached the mainstream and has garnered various positive remarks from both the academe and the ICT professionals. During one of his conferences, Khan discussed the concept of flipping the classroom, a concept which was conveyed to him by teachers through email. This approach is being utilized by several educators, and had paved the way to promote interactive learning. Khan Academy has indeed bridged the gap between education and internet technology as it shows the "power of interactive exercises, and calls for teachers to consider flipping the traditional classroom script- give students video lectures to watch at home, and do homework in the classroom with the teacher available to help." (TED Conferences, 2011), presenting a pragmatic approach to classroom instruction.
With the advancement of technology and e-learning, and recently the flipped classroom method, it is established that this perspective is not a new interest to the U.S. Education Department. In a report of the Web Based Education Commission released in December 2000 entitled "The Power of the Internet for Learning: Moving from Promise to Practice" (US Department of Education, 2002) the following undertakings were identified: that new and effective internet sources be made available to all learners; empower educators and administrators through the provision of regular and relevant training; develop a research structure on web-based learning process and identify its benefits; provide high quality on-line resources that conforms to the prescribed educational system standards; regularly revise non-operational regulations that encumber innovation; protect on-line learners' privacy particularly children; and ensure its sustainability through the provision of appropriate funding. In a parallel report, the National Technology Plan 2010 (US Department of Education, 2010) establishes the relevance of technology in the provision of fundamental learning and effective evaluation. As technology significantly plays an important role in student assessment and data generation, and in providing information to educational institutions as its guide for improvement, the National Technology Plan is an important tool in providing direction in the advancement of education through research and development. This important task is provided for by the National Science Foundation.
However, as technology is advancing in the field of education, it is also expanding in the entertainment and gaming domain. Evidently, the latter is getting more of the students' attention, as reflected in a survey conducted on more than 2,000 students between grades 3 to 12, it was discovered that students spend 7 and a half hours a day on smart phone, computer, television of other electronic device (The New York Times, 2010). Today, it is observed that where there is technology, there is distraction, and if classroom instruction continues to remain conventional, this may result to further resistance from the students, the belief that technology fosters learning and development would be a false dichotomy. Now, the challenge for the educators is how to entice students to learn through the aid of technology and induce the furtherance of e-learning as a method of teaching, but forgoing the rudiments of learning.
Flipping the Classroom Method as an Innovative Learning Process
The concept of Flipping the Classroom is basically an innovation from the conventional method of classroom teaching and provides a convenient and learner-friendly internet-based instruction. Generally, every student has different levels of learning ability and this discrepancy between each student poses a challenge to the instructor. For instance, one student can lag behind the rest of class in one subject matter while another may perform exceptionally and as a result, this situation presents a possible disproportion in terms of the delivery of information by the instructor, hence, the neglect of some students who are unable to catch up with the lessons. As explained by Khan, the Flipped method addresses this situation as it actually transposes the traditional learning method where the students watch and review the video lectures at home and accomplish the homework in the classroom, where the teacher (and classmates) can function as tutors. Basically, this process creates a study group environment which is closely supervised by the teacher. Further, Khan points out the significance of promoting awareness on the importance of subject mastery among students. As earlier discussed, the varying levels of the student's learning ability can pose a threat on the quality of education delivered by the teacher. The Flipped methodology can aid the teachers to focus on the weakness of each student by actually humanizing the classroom. As Khan explains, the relevant measurement of learning is the student-to-valuable-human-time-with-the-teacher-ratio (TED Conferences, 2011). Considering that this method is the exact reverse of the conventional classroom instruction, it is in this approach that educators can actively focus on each student's strengths and weaknesses.
In the academe, there are several dissenting opinions on the efficacy of e-learning. However, in a research conducted to measure its effectiveness, it indicates that interactive e-learning, particularly those that are supported by video poses many advantages. As these videos can be accessed by the students at their own time and phase, the same can also generate savings in terms of time and cost on the part of the educational institutions. Another advantage is that it also creates an interactive learning atmosphere by creating a link between the students and remote experts who can provide up-to-date information. For example, in an empirical study conducted to assess the impact of interactive video as a tool for learning, it indicates that under certain environments, interactive e-learning can produce better results than other methods, however, the quality of this method may still be influenced by other factors such as the learners, instructors, technology (e.g. e-learning environments, production values and content). It evokes the positive correlation between the presence of interactivity, advancing learning and the efficiency of instruction in e-learning settings (Instructional Video in E-learning: Assessing the impact of inteactive video on learning effectiveness, 2006, p. 24). But it should not be construed that e-learning can unilaterally yield positive results; for e-learning to be effective, the elements of an effective instruction must be demonstrable.
In another experiment conducted to test the efficiency of interactive learning, the results shows that the students who underwent lecture through an interactive e-classroom obtained a notably higher rating than those who took the lecture in a traditional classroom. Hence, in order to establish a stimulating and operative on-line learning environment, one has to arrange suitable and informative methods, develop interactivity and personal approach, and to foster student participation. (Acm. Org, 2004, p. 79). For the students to be able to benefit from the flipped classroom, the fundamentals must be established: well-trained instructors, reliable and updated lessons, technological support and receptive learners.
The paradigm shift that the educational realm is experiencing today should be treated with precise evaluation; both dogmatism and conviviality can yield to unstructured results and that technology, or e-learning, is not panacea. As it is very evident that technology now defines the potentials and the radical advancement of today's educational system, this inevitability should be harnessed to one's advantage and but should not encourage mediocrity.