Pros and Cons of Flipped Learning

Sep 16, 2015

There has been a lot of energy around the flipped classroom concept since a couple of years now. It has quickly managed to become the buzzword in today’s education. And do you know what makes it stick all the more? No homework!

Yes, you guessed it right. The flipped classroom has literally reversed the traditional learning process.

It is a form of blended learning where students watch the lectures online and work on the problems in class. Therefore, it shifts the focus from imparting lectures to implementing the lessons effectively.

I’ll tell you why this works.

Are you familiar with a bored expression, dazed eyes, the teacher’s voice swinging in and out of earshot as a bout of sleep sprints to your eyelids in the classroom? And that is exactly when you know that you are walking the fine line between going luckily unnoticed and detention. But it is not entirely your fault.

You see, the traditional education system leaves little to no room for students to be active participants in the classroom. It forces them to become mere receptors of the lectures. It hinders the learning process and snatches away the interest from the students. And this is where the flipped classroom concept works like a genie granting the three wishes of:

  • undivided attention
  • constructive collaboration
  • effective learning

The brainchild of Aaron Sams and Jon Bergmann, the flipped classroom concept shows immense potential in the face of progressive education. Following is a lowdown on the benefits of flipped learning.

Pros of Flipped Learning

  1. Ability to Take Control of Your Education

Jon Bergmann’s daughter, Kaitie Bergmann was exposed to the flipped education system when she was a student at Woodland Park High School in Colorado. By the looks of it, she seems quite pleased. She feels that the ability to take control of her education was the best gift that flipped classroom presented to her.

She recounts, “One of the coolest things that came out of the flipped-mastery classroom for me was the ability to step up and take responsibility for my own learning at a pace that worked for me. I got to choose when to listen to a lecture, decide what was the best use of my class time, such conducting a lab, doing a worksheet, asking for help, or working in a small group, and then work towards the weekly stated goals.

Therefore, the flipped classroom gives you three things:

  • it increases the input that you get to put in the class
  • you get to be more in control of your learning by taking up initiative in planning, decision-making and problem-solving
  • it makes learning self-paced to quite an extent

By handing over the control of the learning process to students, the flipped education concept makes learning more personalized.

  • If you wish to take notes without missing out on what the teacher is saying, you can pause the video.
  • If you want a portion of the lecture to be repeated, you can always rewind.
  • You can also write down your queries for further clarification in the next class.

Now those are brownie points worth adopting flipped education for. And this brings us to our next point.

  1. Removes Stress from Learning

When I was in school, I knew the exact number of times the night-guard used to blow his whistle when he crossed our lane. And it used to be the same every night. For the record, it was six. Homework kept me up late. Red-eyed (from constant rubbing to keep sleep at bay) and gloomy faced with stress perched on my brow, I used to burn the midnight oil to get the assignments in order for the next class.

The flipped classroom drives this stress away in two ways:

  • Firstly, the ‘no-homework’ agenda brightens the mood a whole lot. You do not have to carry around the stress of impending homework, failing to submit which will result in penalization.
  • Secondly, the self-paced learning that becomes your homework is an exciting concept. You get to choose when to watch the lectures. You get to determine how to utilize your time and what works best for you. Now that’s what stress-free learning is all about.

stress-free learning

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  1. Promotes Active Collaboration

You have already accumulated the skills from the lectures you have been listening to at home. Now is the time to implement those. And that is accomplished by dabbling in collaborative discussions and projects in the classroom.

For the flipped classroom concept to work, the teachers become the facilitator in the classroom. Their responsibility transforms into guiding you and your fellow mates through the projects that you have been assigned, that is, your classwork. You can ask your teacher to clarify any doubt you face.

Thus, you get the chance to shape your learning just the way you want. This promotes two things:

A healthy amount of confidence is a bonus that seeps in as an afterthought.

Here’s an example of a flipped-learning implementation.

  1. Learning Becomes More Versatile and Accessible

Learning should not always be restricted to the whiteboard. There is a wealth of resources out there to be explored and incorporated in learning. And flipped classroom helps in doing just that.

Teachers can share any kind of teaching material to make the lessons interesting. Numerous resources come to the aid to serve the purpose. Also, flipped personal development classes have taken career-oriented training to the next level.

In addition, accessibility trumps with flipped classroom. Since the lectures are made available online, you do not have to worry about missing classes anymore. The sick days will not be a bother. Also, this keeps parents in the loop of the learning process as well.

  1. Reduces the Usage of Paper

Flipped learning has the potential to make classrooms go paperless.

  • With flipped learning, the lecture has shifted online, so students do not need to take class notes.
  • It nullifies the idea of homework. Therefore, students do not need to carry home printed assignment sheets.
  • The classwork can be accomplished via the technology they are allowed to use in the classroom.
  • Students do not need to lug back-breaking bags to school every day.

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It is indeed, the next best thing in education.

Seems pretty amazing, right? And the best thing is, this concept works. The facts speak volumes in favor of this. According to the Flipped Learning Network, in a particular study:

  • 71% of the teachers who had flipped their classes noticed an improvement in grades.
  • 80% of the teachers reported that students’ attitudes have improved after adopting flipped learning system.
  • The results have been so good that 99% of the teachers who had flipped their classroom said that they would flip it again in the following term.

But doesn’t that seem too good to be true? You guessed it right again. There’s always a catch. In this case, I have identified five. And the flip side doesn’t look so convenient. Let’s have a look.

Cons of Flipped Learning

  1. Video Lectures Do Not Apply to All Topics

With flipped learning, lessons are required to be trimmed down to approximately, 15-minute video lectures. This strips them off the nuances. And the context suffers the risk of becoming meaningless. Not all lessons can be imparted this way.

Teachers cannot always be expected to pick out the essentials of a lesson and present them in a concise video. Even though this can be accomplished for a few selected topics, it becomes quite impossible for an entire course. And this is a massive letdown for the flipped learning scenario.

On the contrary, there are a number of ways to make classroom lectures interesting. Students do not necessarily have to be spectators in the classroom, there are methods to get them to participate in class as well.

However, Aaron Sams and Jon Bergmann do not agree. Watch the following video to know why.

  1. Relies on Digital Resources

Internet accessibility lies at the heart of flipped learning.

  • The lectures are recorded with digital tools.
  • They are sent over to the students via the Internet.
  • Students watch these videos online.

So you see, the whole process takes place online. Now throw in:

  • a fluctuating Internet connection on any end (teacher or student)
  • Internet accessibility issues
  • and a teacher who isn’t that tech-savvy

That is a recipe for disaster. Students from low-income zones have limited access to digital resources. Therefore, they will suffer the most. This will widen the digital divide into a gaping chasm. In such cases, the flipped learning concept turns out to be quite disruptive and futile.

However, the following gives a few incredible solutions for students with Internet-accessibility problems.

  1. Relies Completely on Students’ Self-Preparation

The flipped learning concept acknowledges self-paced learning. And this relies heavily on the principle of self-motivation for students. Now is that an ideal situation? Not all students can be expected to learn at the same pace. Some students are slow learners, some lack motivation. They will lag behind while the class proceeds with the next topic. That is absolutely unacceptable.

Sometimes teachers struggle quite a lot to get students to finish their homework on time on their own. So it is quite ludicrous to expect them to:

  • sit through a video lesson
  • take down notes
  • jot down the questions they have
  • come to class prepared to take part in extension activities

While some students might quickly get onboard with the attributes of flipped learning, some might abuse the freedom it allows. This makes it extremely tricky for teachers to judge the pace of learning of the class as a whole. It takes some time to identify the students who are falling behind and get them to pick up the slag. And it eats away valuable course duration. This hampers the whole learning process considerably.

The whole model is based on trust. It takes a whole lot of effort for teachers to plan and create these videos for their students. It is a real shame if this effort is put to waste.

effort is put to waste

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  1. Hampers the Assessment Pattern

Flipped learning does not comply with the concept of standardized tests. While it helps in enhancing the whole learning process, it is quite lackadaisical in improving standardized test scores. This is because all students following the flipped learning concept in a class are not necessarily at the same level of preparedness.

Procrastination poses a huge problem. Students will fail to keep up. And they will end up approaching tests on different days according to their preparation. Now that is absolutely atrocious and defies the rules of a standard curriculum.

A learning system like that is not complete. It reduces engagement with the classroom material and jeopardizes the whole pattern of a term.

  1. Increases Screen Time

Nowadays numerous gadgets have infiltrated everyday lives of students. It is almost like a routine for them to spend an ample amount of time glued to the screens of these. And the flipped learning mode just adds to that. The average screen time for children aged 5-16 has been found to be over 6 hours a day!

The time we spend in front of the screens has been found to hamper our health. That is a serious concern. Not every student or parent will be likely to adopt flipped learning for this.

Despite all the problems, flipped classroom can be quite effective for students to experience a hands-on approach for lessons. Many institutes have come across to support this concept. For example, Khan Academy has made flipped classroom a trend.

Flipped classroom is quite a beneficial and innovative concept for students, bringing in a positive change to tradition. This concept has not only been beneficial for children, but also for employees of companies and business personnel.

So now you have both, the positives and the negatives of the flipped learning mode. No one can be a better judge of the concept than you. I rest my case.

What other pros and/or cons would you like to add to this list? Share those with us in the comments section below. We would love to hear from you.


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Article Posted in: Indian Education News

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