As more and more classrooms embrace blended learning strategies, it’s only natural to expect questions to arise. That’s especially true when new technology enables a whole new approach to the learning experience — as is the case with one of today’s most buzzed-about classroom innovations, the flipped classroom.
Students are curious as to how technology will change their day to day learning experience, and whether it may help improve their grades.
School officials and administrators are asking how they can support both the needs of their faculty and the needs of their students as teachers pursue these exciting approaches.
And as anyone who’s led a classroom before would expect, parents too are taking a keen interest in the ins and outs of inverted learning.
As parents seek to better understand the learning environments they’re sending their students into, teachers planning to flip their classrooms — whether it’s middle school math, high school history, or even collegiate calculus — are getting more and more questions from curious moms and dads. To make answering all those inquiries just a little bit easier, we’ve compiled the most common questions our customers have been hearing, with ideas for how to answer each.
How To Answer Parents’ Most Common Questions About the Flipped Classroom
1. Okay, first things first, what exactly is a “flipped classroom”?
The flipped classroom is a new method for structuring classroom learning activities. While there are many ways to flip a classroom, at its most basic, it works like this:
- The teacher provides the students with lecture materials that the students are expected to review before they get to class. These materials can be short recorded lecture videos from me, reading assignments, or anything else.
- With the lecture given ahead of time, class time can instead be used for deeper learning — interactive discussions, activities, and assignments.
An example of a “microlecture” video for a flipped classroom
2. What do you hope to achieve by flipping the classroom?
The goals of the flipped classroom concept are to enable students to learn at their own pace and to maximize the amount of interactive learning possible in the classroom. Here’s what makes flipping work:
- Students have total control over the pace and content of the lecture. They can review the materials as quickly or as slowly as they need, and can always rewind the video or flip back a page in the text if they need to hear a point.
- And because each student is now coming to class with a foundational understanding of that day’s materials, they no longer need the teacher to spend time lecturing on the basics and can instead engage in discussions and activities meant to help create a deeper and more intricate understanding of the topic.
3. How will the flip work?
This answer will be unique to your classroom, depending on your own plans for your inverted classroom. Here, it’s important to let parents know which class sessions you plan to flip, how you’ll deliver your lecture materials for those sessions, and your overall expectations for students to review those materials and participate on those flipped days.
4. Wouldn’t it be easier for the students to hear the lecture from you in person?
Flipping doesn’t separate the teacher from student — it actually brings them closer together.
- First, the flipped lecture format ensures the core materials of each class are taught at exactly the right speed for each student, instead of all at the same speed that every student must adapt to.
- And by opening up class time, the teacher moves from the role of “sage on the stage” to “guide on the side,” and can interact with each student on a one-to-one level far more often than possible in the traditional lecture format.
5. Without the lecture, what exactly do students do during class time?
The single most valuable aspect of every flipped classroom model is the opportunity for real learning it creates during class time. For most students, lectures are a passive learning experience — but in a flipped classroom, the lecture is already done and class time means interactivity, discussion, and experimentation. The day-to-day experience of a flipped classroom is always different, and designed to support the lesson at hand. On any given day students might demonstrate their knowledge with interactive quizzes, discuss their questions about what they’ve learned, write or present their ideas for how what they’ve learned might be applied, or just complete the normal homework they’re already used to — but inside the classroom, where they can readily ask questions and earn from their peers and their teacher.
Go inside a flipped classroom at Stonehill College
6. What happens to homework? What does that mean for how grades are determined?
“Homework” in the flipped classroom may have multiple meanings. Most directly, the real “homework” for students in a flipped class will be reviewing the lecture materials ahead of time and coming to class prepared to apply what they’ve learned. Whether they’ve done so will be tested as it always has been — through in-class tests and quizzes.The more traditional homework — assignments, essays, and other exercises — still exists, although the goal of the flipped classroom is for students to work on many of those activities while in class, where they can ask questions, clarify responses, and hopefully, have more positive, less frustrating environment for proving their knowledge. These assignments too will be graded just as they always have been, and along with the tests and quizzes noted above, as well as standard midterm and final exams, will make up the majority of the students’ final grades.
7. How common is this? Are other educators flipping their classes too?
The flipped classroom is the newest trend in improving the classroom experience. According to Campus Technology, already 29 percent of faculty in the United States are now using flipped instruction to some degree, and another 27 percent plan to add it to their repertoire within a year.The flipped model has taken off quickly because it really does seem to work. The research is early but powerful. Of teachers who have flipped their classrooms:
- 71 percent reported increased test scores, with particular benefits for students in advanced placement classes and students with special needs
- 80 percent reported improved student attitudes
- 99 percent said they would flip their classrooms again next year
8. What technology will my student need in order to participate in a flipped classroom?
This answer too will change depending on how you intend to deliver your flipped classroom lectures, and how you expect students to review them. The good news is, the flipped classroom has succeeded in large part because it’s already passed the hurdle of technology. Most video lectures, for example, can be recorded with the webcam already installed on a teacher’s laptop or smartphone, can be hosted on YouTube, and can be shared quickly via email. As schools seek to provide improved support for flipped classrooms, a video platform for education like Panopto gives teachers a secure, centralized portal where they can record, manage, and share their videos, and where their students can search, view, and even take notes on each recording.
9. What can I do as a parent to help my student succeed in a flipped class?
The single most essential element of any flipped classroom is whether or not its students actually review the lectures ahead of time and come to class prepared. If the students don’t do the homework and watch the lecture, they simply won’t be able to keep up with the rest of their class.For parents, we ask that you make sure your students are really reviewing the lecture materials. Parents who always find themselves asking “What did you learn in school today?” may even want to watch together with their student — it’s a great way to ensure they’re paying attention, and you can really make a difference by talking with your student about the subject as you watch.
10. Why haven’t you done this before?
The flipped class concept is still new! We’re always looking for new ideas to better engage with our students, and to help each receive the personalized learning experience they need in order to grow as mature, intelligent individuals.
Want to learn more about how Panopto can support flipped classrooms in your school?
Panopto’s flexible flipped classroom software makes it easy for teachers to record and share just about any information, anytime, anywhere. And Panopto’s web- and mobile-based learning tools enable students to search and view any classroom recording on-demand — and never need to worry about whether or not they have the right equipment.
To try Panopto in your classrooms sign up and start using Panopto for free!