Winning the hearts and minds of schoolchildren with flipped learning

Apr 29, 2016

These days, it takes more effort than ever to hold the pupils’ attention, as teachers fight an uphill battle against smartphones, tablets, and a myriad other high tech distractions. Winning against them will take something more potent than scribbling upon a blackboard with chalk. It is time to arm the educators with the tools and techniques that will engage the students and motivate them to listen and actively participate in the lesson.

Last two decades saw an unprecedented growth in the area of alternative teaching methods. One of them, the so-called “Flipped Learning” (also known as the “Flipped Classroom”), involves the students studying at home with the help of video lessons recorded by the teacher, and then completing practical tasks in class under the teacher’s guidance.

Ideally, the lessons’ materials are split into short videos (3 to 7 minutes in length, tops) and clearly named and labeled, so that a student who needs to watch a specific video again, or is looking for the answer to a specific question can do so without having to search through a full-length recording.

Implementing flipped learning in your environment will have you facing the following challenges:

  1. Making sure that every student has the necessary equipment at home to watch the video lessons.

  2. Motivating the teachers to give this new approach to instruction a try by engaging them and demonstrating the advantages it has over the traditional teaching methods.

  3. Choosing a suitable platform for organizing and directing your flipped learning initiative, one that enables you to upload videos, add metadata to them for the ease of searching, and systematize them to form meaningful structure.

Let us address these challenges one by one.

Device available for video playback

This challenge should pose you the least problems of the three, as these days most households have a personal computer, a laptop, or at least a tablet device. In many countries, schools provide devices that can be used for reading eTextbooks and completing interactive exercises to students. At worst, one can turn to charitable organizations to obtain the necessary equipment.

Motivating the teachers

The second challenge is a bit trickier, and the success in overcoming it mainly relies on the following factors:

  1. The personality and leadership qualities of the school principal or headteacher planning to implement flipped learning in their school, and

  2. The readiness of the teachers to experiment with new techniques and approaches to education.

In any case, regardless of the power of the organizer’s personality, studying the cases where flipped learning was introduced successfully in schools could hardly hurt. First and foremost, we would like to bring your attention to the experiment undertaken in Clintondale High School in Clinton Township, Michigan. In fact, it was the first time flipped learning was implemented on such a scale. New York Times published an excellent article about the experiment, called Turning Education Upside Down, and it gives some numbers that are hard to believe - for example, introducing flipped learning decreased the number of failing students by a factor of 10, from 30% to 3%.

Another notable resource is Salman Khan’s Khan Academy, a massively popular resource that became synonymous with flipped learning. Featuring thousands of lessons on a wide variety of subjects, it gave students all around the world a chance to try out the pioneering teaching method. Salman used principles similar to those of flipped learning when creating his web site and filling it with content. Keep in mind, though, that videos are but one of the aspects of this method.

Choosing the platform

The third and final challenge is mostly one of being spoiled for choice. These days, web-based services for hosting videos, training management solutions, and e-Learning platforms number in the hundreds.

When choosing the proper tool, it is important to remember that your goal is not to merely arrange for some storage space and fill it up with videos, but to create a meaningful structure, a sequence of video lessons that make sense. Besides, you should definitely give preference to a solution that enables you to check and grade the students’ knowledge as a part of your course.

Also, having a built-in statistics feature that keeps track of the number of views for individual videos and students’ promotion will make the teacher’s job significantly easier. The main thing to remember is that the tool must be easy to learn and use, as to not put the teachers under unneeded stress. For example, Geenio is a suitable solution that meets all the criteria above, and can serve as your platform of choice in implementing flipped learning in your environment.

This tool enables you to create a meaningful structure, a sequence of video lessons that make sense, instead of merely arranging for some storage space and filling it up with videos. With the help of our platform, you can arrange your videos in order and intersperse them with tests and questions to check knowledge acquisition and retention, thus turning a collection of individual videos into a fully fleshed out online course. And do not forget that the detailed statistics provided by Geenio will make looking up the grades of a specific student a breeze. This will help you better understand where his or her strengths lie, and which areas could use more work. An easy-to-read visual map of the course allows you to quickly and easily make changes, add new video lessons, or supplement the course with a text page.

Geenio enjoys a fair bit of popularity among teachers and students both thanks to its ease of use. No need to spend weeks, or months even, studying the ins and outs, as is often the case with more cumbersome systems. Our platform is user-friendly, intuitive, and can really be used by anyone.

Advanced flipped learning

If you feel like it, you can go deeper into the rabbit hole of flipped learning and employ an even more innovative approach that will engage your students to delve into new areas of study - enjoying the process along the way. Split the class into small groups (ideally, no more than 2-3 persons per group), prepare a list of topics that have to be learned throughout the semester, and divide them between the student groups, so that every group gets a different topic to cover. If your students are up for it, you can have them pick and choose which topic they would like to research. After dividing the topics between groups, give the students some time (1-3 weeks) to gather information on the assigned topic, prepare a visual presentation or a mini course, and deliver it during one of the lessons, teaching their fellow students what then need to know about the topic at hand.

This approach does wonders to motivate the students. By setting the task before them, you give them a responsibility, but at the same time demonstrate trust in them and their abilities. Every groups will sort itself out and determine who is responsible for specific parts of the task, where to look for information, and how to best deliver it. The school library can be a good place to start, and the Internet is ever an endless font of knowledge - just make sure that the students do not use information from dubious or unverified sources.

Note that Geenio shines in the advanced flipped learning scenario as well. It is no secret that young people prefer web services that feature clean, modern interfaces that are easy on the eye and simple to use, like Facebook, YouTube, or Dropbox. Geenio keeps in the same tradition, and follows the latest design principles to not fall behind the times. Thanks to that, schoolchildren will be excited to build courses with Geenio, and the intuitive interface and cool features will inspire them to outdo each other.

Regardless of whether you decide to pursue regular or advanced flipped learning, you will soon feel the difference, and new classroom dynamics will come as a breath of fresh air. Granted, flipped learning may require additional effort on the part of the teacher than the traditional methods, but those efforts will be richly rewarded, as you will see your students engage with each other, share information, and eagerly discuss the latest topics. The grades of your students will also improve, and the effect will be all the more noticeable with weaker students. To sum it all up, once you go flipped, you’ll never go back!