Childhood in the digital age
Childhood in the digital age

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Childhood in the digital age

4.1.1 Flipped classrooms

The audio recording in the previous section referred to a ‘flipped classroom’, in which the teachers have changed roles to become classroom mentors. A flipped classroom sounds odd, doesn’t it? But it’s a popular teaching method in many US and increasingly UK classrooms.

Download this video clip.Video player: Students
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Transcript: Students

Maggie Ward
Every day, 7.2 million students walk into classrooms throughout the United States. These classrooms, generally, look the same. Thirty students sit in rows of desks taking notes in their notebooks, while the teacher stands at a whiteboard teaching a lesson. Regardless of ability level, each student receives the exact same information at the exact same pace. As Miss Jackson presents this same material, the students respond differently. Tommy gets it while Allison is bored and Maria is lost. At the end of the day, these same students head home, while at home they sit at the kitchen table doing their homework, and trying to remember what Miss Jackson said.
Students like Tommy make it most of the way through the homework while others like Allison find it easy and fly through it. At the same time, students like Maria get frustrated and need some extra help. Miss Jackson recognises that students have different needs and would love to work individually with each student, but this requires time and resources that her school does not have. One solution to this problem is the flipped classroom. Here's what it looks like. While at home, students sit in their rooms watching videos of the lesson that Miss Jackson assigned. Tommy is still able to work at his normal pace. Allison is no longer bored because now she can use this new technology to fast forward through the easy material.
Maria is no longer frustrated because she can review the material she didn't understand by pausing and rewinding. When really she gets stuck, she can get help from her classmates. New technology platforms like Moodle and Edmodo make it easy for her to chat online with her classmates. Just as the homework is different, the classroom is different as well. Instead of standing in front of the room speaking, Miss Jackson walks around the room. She checks in with Tommy as he works collaboratively with some students. She pushes Allison further with some more challenging work and she helps Maria with the pieces that she still doesn't get.
In the traditional model, the teacher stands between the students and the knowledge, but with the flipped model, the students have direct access to the knowledge and the teacher serves as a coach, mentor and guide, helping the students access this knowledge. The flipped classroom leverages technology in a way that lets both Miss Jackson and the students make the most of their time and efforts.
End transcript: Students
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There are various views of what flipped classroom and flipped learning mean for schools and teachers, but essentially they refer to turning the traditional classroom model on its head, as shown in the animation above. Do you feel the idea of a flipped classroom could become a reality in the 2020s?

A powerful concept is that teachers don’t have to spend precious classroom time on explaining basic concepts; in a traditional class they can’t focus on specific problems or address the needs of their individual students. The flipped classroom model clearly aims to maximise the time teachers have available for each student and often implies a turn towards technology-enabled teaching methods.

Central to this idea is the focus on giving children more autonomy in their learning and promoting ‘personalised learning’, in contrast to a more traditional ‘one size fits all’ approach. This personalised learning vision has resonance with what you learned in Week 1, especially around self-determination theory [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] . As you saw there, this theory supports the role of intrinsic motivation and emphasises the importance of giving children autonomy, sometimes within boundaries, to make choices in their own learning (Deci and Ryan, 2000).


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