The IT Certification Resource Center

Featured Deal

Get CompTIA, Cisco, or Microsoft training courses free for a week.
Learn More ❯

The Rise of Flipped Classroom Learning

Flipped classroom learning is catching in at all levels of education, but the model is especially popular in STEM disciplines. What do IT learners need to know about this new development?

Flipped classroom learning is an emerging educational trend, especially in STEM disciplines.Flipped learning is a constructive development in the methods and practices of teaching. A flipped classroom is unlike the conventional learning format wherein a pupil receives information through classroom lectures, and then applies that knowledge to assigned work at home.


In a flipped classroom, rather, students assimilate content via videos, audio, text, and interactive media at home. Then learners apply that learning in class, in collaboration with peers, and assisted by the teacher.


Traditionally, students have received information through lectures in a classroom. While that works for many, it doesn’t engage others, and assimilation of knowledge and exam performance have suffered. In a flipped classroom, class time is mainly for understanding and applying knowledge and concepts via discussions, joint exercises, projects and quizzes.


A Brief History of Flipped Classrooms


The germ of this method likely emerged in the 1990s, when Eric Mazur, a Harvard physicist, introduced a method called “peer instruction.” Students were asked to prepare before coming to class by reading and answering questions about the topic at home. In class, the instructor would give students a question to ponder and answer individually.


Responses were then reviewed, and students grouped together to discuss how each one of them arrived at their answer. Following that discussion, they would be given the option of modifying their answer. These answers would be reviewed again, and the instructor would decide whether the question needed further explaining, or to proceed to the next question.


Flipped classrooms generally follow this approach. In 2000, the University of Miami-Ohio published a paper “Inverting the classroom.” The concept failed to catch on, however, probably because the Age of YouTube and video-sharing hadn’t yet arrived.


Launched in 2005, YouTube made it possible for anyone to record and post videos for others to share. It was easy and inexpensive. Two years later, Jonathan Bergman and Aaron Sams, science teachers in Colorado, began recording and creating video presentations of their lectures to enable students who missed classes to listen to the lectures at home.


A year later, they applied this method for all their students. Pupils were asked to study the presentations at home and come to class prepared to discuss with other students and apply what they had learned. This made the students active participants in their own learning, and enabled Bergman and Sams to gauge a pupil’s conceptual understanding and guide each accordingly.


Breaking from the Norm


The flipped learning approach enables students to study the topic at home at their own pace, and then review and apply the concepts in classroom collaborations with peers and guided by teachers.


The emphasis is on understanding concepts and applying knowledge, rather than passively receiving information in class and later recalling it on an exam. Within a flipped classroom setting, students prepare before coming to class, so that class time is devoted to applying and analyzing information and ideas through discussions, exercises and projects together with peers.


Though video-based learning is popular because it engages the student and facilitates higher retention, videos are not the only format for content delivery. Other commonly used formats include text, audio and multimedia. Instructors curate and capture material for students to consume at their convenience. Thanks to technology, content can be presented in a range of formats to suit different styles of learning.