November 6, 2013 by gemmalunn
Today I experienced my first ‘flipped classroom’. For those of you who don’t know, a flipped classroom/lesson is a form of blended learning whereby prior to the lesson students watch a vodcast (online video- you can see an example here) of the teacher delivering the ‘lecture’ part of the class. During the class students can then work on other activities such as those which would have been done for homework.
On my MA Applied Linguistics course we are halfway through the 10 week Phonology module and our lecturer Jane Setter has decided to use flipped classrooms for the remaining lectures; mainly to allow for more transcription practice during class time. Every week Jane makes a vodcast of the upcoming lecture and posts it to Blackboard (a virtual learning environment).
For me and for this lecture I think this format is perfect. It allows students to watch the lecture in their own time, at their own pace and in their pyjamas (if you want to!). I found it useful to be able to stop the vodcast/lecture at trickier points and either watch the slide again, take more notes or do some reading around the point for further information. As for the classroom part we were able to spend some time discussing any questions people had regarding the lecture and then move onto transcription practice for the upcoming exam. I would much rather do the transcriptions in class with the support of classmates and the lecturer than alone, at home. The feel and result of this week’s lecture was therefore much more hands on and overall I feel like I’ve got more out of this module this week.
As I said, for this module I think a flipped classroom is ideal. I can see many situations where it would not be suitable and although I’d love to try flipped learning in an ELT context I imagine it would only work in specific cases. Before you watch the vodcast you need to ensure you are in the right environment and frame of mind to focus. However, the latter could also be said of a lecture/class so at least the flipped classroom gives you the flexibility to choose a time when you feel ready to concentrate!
For more information, links and opinions (sometimes fairly strong!) on flipped learning Nathan Hall has written the following posts: Flipping and Retreating. One link Nathan gives is to this video which highlights nicely the different roles a teacher can take by having a flipped classroom.