Pillars of Flipping the Classroom in higher education Needs, advantages and pitfalls

Pillars of Flipping the Classroom in higher education Needs, advantages and pitfalls

Introduction

Since the launch of the Flipping the Classroom method (from now own we will use FTC), a growing body of research has revealed that flipped learning can have a number of positive effects on students. (Tomas, Evans, Doyle, & Skamp, 2019). The observation that students show more commitment (Fulton, 2012), that they have a more positive attitude towards this way of learning, appreciate the flexibility in learning at their own pace and the possibilities for a differentiated approach, appears in various research reports. This was also confirmed in the research some of the Polyflip project partners (Ljudska Univerza Velenje from Slovenia and Artvelde University of Applied Science from Belgium) recently were involved in, during the European Erasmus+ projects iFlip, http://projectiflip.eu/en/ (Erasmus+ Project, 2017) and FlippingFirst, http://flippingfirst.eu  (Erasmus+ Project, 2017). The fact that the method enhances education access and leads to learning successes for both minority and non-minority students (Dziuban, Graham, Moskal, Norberg, & Sicilia, 2018) can also be underlined as an important benefit. It can be observed that the majority of these studies focus on students in adult education, more specific at higher education (bachelor and master) level. All links to the research results are listed in the section “Research Literature” on this website.

In this section you can find a summary of the results from recent research. The existing results will be compared to the results from the Polyflip project and will gradually be added to this section when processing the results of the new survey.
 

The pillars of FTC

In 2014, the Flipped Learning Network (FLN, 2014) described the 4 F-L-I-P pillars to ensure that educators are able to teach in a flipped classroom way, by providing them with sufficient knowledge, skills and resources.

Almost a decade later, the pillars still are a solid basis for FTC, although we have made a small nuance in the last pillar. 

The first pillar is the need of a Flexible learning environment, the second pillar shows the need of carefully selecting Learning content to apply with FTC, the third pillar asks for the existence of a viable learning Culture in the institution, the department and the group of students. And last but not least, FTC can never be realised without Professionalised educators. In order to successfully introduce FTC, the educators, though professional in teacher their lesson subjects, need enough support and training in the use of the FTC method, the use of media and computer tools according to their needs. Therefore, we changed the word Professional from the original F-L-I-P scheme into Professionalised. 

 

the 4 POLYFLIP pillars for FTC, inspired by the Flipped Learning Network

Figure 5.the 4 POLYFLIP pillars for FTC, inspired by the Flipped Learning Network (FLN, 2014),

 

STUDENT ENGAGEMENT: it will only be possible for students to successfully acquire knowledge in a flipped classroom setting if the learning process is supported by four essential pillars.  

Pillar 1: FLEXIBLE ENVIRONMENT

 

The institutions, classes and laboratories where students take the F2F part of the lessons are sufficiently flexible in time and space. Educators also need a fair amount of flexibility to develop materials, correctly sense the students' needs, adapt content to the method, use digital tools.

CONTEXT

Pillar 2: LEARNING CULTURE

In FTC, students come to class with a fair amount of basic knowledge. The time in class is spent exploring the topics in depth, putting theory into practice, making exercises and experimenting in the labs.  A positive learning culture consists of students being actively involved in building their knowledge, as they are given the opportunity to go through the learning process at their own pace and are guided by their educators and peers where necessary

STUDENTS

Pillar 3: INTENTIONAL CONTENT

Flipped Learning Educators thoroughly consider which parts of the material students can acquire independently and which parts should be covered in class. In order to make the most efficient use of the F2F teaching time, to maximise class time and to encourage active learning, the educators take into account the level of the students, their prior knowledge and the subject matter.

CONTENT

Pillar 4: PROFESSIONALISED EDUCATORS

The need for training in the use of the method, the digital tools, the design of a didactic learning path and the monitoring of the students through a Learning Management System, is indicated in almost every research as one of the most important conditions to start working with FTC.

ECUCATORS

Based on the results from the Erasmus+ project iFlip (2016-2018) http://projectiflip.eu/en/project-results/ and FlippingFirst (2016-2018) http://flippingfirst.eu and deducted from recent research articles (see rubric Research literature), the needs and pitfalls are further described per pillar

Pillar 1: Flexibel environment - CONTEXT

In terms of context, the introduction and use of FTC will reveal a number of needs related to the flexibility from the environment (institutions, the classes and the labs) and the educators, in order to ensure the benefits of the method and avoid the pitfalls.

NEEDS

When FTC is introduced into a training programme, it is necessary to thoroughly analyse the context in which this takes place and to create a solid basis for implementation. Flexibility will be expected in several areas. 

  • It will be necessary for the training institution to offer the teachers sufficient flexibility to introduce the method at their own pace and according to their own needs. 
  • Adaptations may also be necessary in terms of timetables and the layout of classrooms and laboratories. Sometimes students will acquire content at home, sometimes they will come to class.
  • As the method gains popularity, there may be needs for a stronger WIFI connection, media, software and hardware. 
  • The curricula taught according to FTC must offer sufficient flexibility for feedback and guidance from teachers.
  • A technical support team should be available to help teachers and/or students with computer and connection problems
  • There must be preparation sessions to prepare students for flipped learning and teachers for flipped teaching

 

ADVANTAGES

  • the space that is freed up during the moments when the students learn at home can offer prospects for using classes and laboratories more efficiently
  • the hard- and software tools that are introduced also benefit non-FTC lessons
  • positive effect on the image of the educational institution
  • better learning results
  • better prepared and pre-oriented students
  • attracting other student profiles and target groups 
  • possibilities for extended collaboration with business corporations
  • general increase in digital literacy of instructors and students

 

CHALLNGES

Providing students with a solid education and preparing them for the labour market and life requires the team in charge of their higher education to keep up with the latest developments in their field, technology and skills. This is a constant challenge for everyone and in itself requires a great deal of flexibility. The pressure on the team and the educational institution can initially be increased by introducing methods such as flipping the classroom. 

  • It is a challenge for the teachers to find time to convert part of their teaching materials according to FTC
  • It is a challenge for the educational institution to ensure that they support their teams and students with material, software, space, technical help and time 
  • It is a challenge for the school management to give the team the opportunity to introduce FTC at their own pace and must accept that not everyone will be as far along as quickly
  • It is a challenge for the curriculum design teams to add the FTC method structurally in the curricula 

 

Pillar 2: Learning Culture - STUDENTS

NEEDS

A positive learning culture consists of students being actively involved in building their knowledge, as they are given the opportunity to go through the learning process at their own pace and are guided by their educators and peers where necessary.

  • The students have to know the teacher and the method in advance
  • The learning scheme and path has to be well described
  • The learning objectives, assessments and the evaluation strategy have to be specified clearly and are known by the students
  • The students have to get and to have the necessary motivation to do what they’re asked for during the time of studying individually
  • The students have the opportunity to reach their peers and their teachers when with their questions

 

ADVANTAGES

In FTC, students come to class with a fair amount of basic knowledge. The time in class is spent exploring the topics in depth, putting theory into practice, making exercises and experimenting in the labs.  

  • Students have the opportunity to access learning material at anytime
  • They can study and review the material at their own pace 
  • The learning experiences are more active and interactive 
  • Integration of videos, podcast and other multimedia can make the learning more variated and richer  
  • The students have more time for collaboration with their peers and teachers.
  • They get more time to learn
  • The learning is extended beyond the classrooms.
  • Content knowledge and competences can be increased during the F2F class moment

 

CHALLENGES

  • Students are enough motivated to learn online before coming to the F2F lessons
  • Students are well prepared before coming to the F2F lessons
  • Students feel coached and supported
  • Students have enough self-confidence and motivation to learn on their own
  • Students have easy access to the lesson content
  • Students support each other via peer-learning
  • Students are attending the F2F lessons
     

Pillar 3: Intentional Content - CONTENT

NEEDS

Flipped Learning Educators thoroughly consider which parts of the material students can acquire independently and which parts should be covered in class. In order to make the most efficient use of the F2F teaching time, to maximise class time and to encourage active learning, the educators take into account the level of the students, their prior knowledge and the subject matter.

  • The subject content is deliberately partitioned between online and F2F parts
  • The learning scheme and path has to be well described
  • The learning objectives, assessments and the evaluation strategy have to be specified clearly
  • The subject matter is offered attractively and with sufficient variation in the working methods to keep the students motivated to go through everything individually and within the allotted time.
  • The students have the opportunity to reach their peers and their teachers when with their questions
  • Using FTC for this particular subject is an added value 

 

ADVANTAGES

In FTC, students come to class with a fair amount of basic knowledge. The time in class is spent exploring the topics in depth, putting theory into practice, making exercises and experimenting in the labs.  

  • Students have the opportunity to access learning material at anytime
  • They can study and review the material at their own pace 
  • The learning experiences are more active and interactive 
  • Integration of videos, podcast and other multimedia can make the learning more variated and richer  
  • The students have more time for collaboration with their peers and teachers.
  • They get more time to learn
  • The learning is extended beyond the classrooms.
  • Content knowledge and competences can be increased during the F2F class moment

 

CHALLENGES

  • Defining the right lesson content (or part of) for teaching in a FTC way
  • Lesson content is available on a Learning Management Platform at the right time
  • Clear learning schedule
  • Enough variety in the use of media. FTC is not at all equal to all online content in video’s
  • Enough possibilities of differentiation and exercising
  • Choosing the right media adjusted to the lesson content
     

Pillar 4: Professionalised Educators - Educators

The need for training in the use of the method, the digital tools, the design of a didactic learning path and the monitoring of the students through a Learning Management System, is indicated in almost every research as one of the most important conditions to start working with FTC.

 

NEEDS

Teachers have to be well trained to use the FTC method, choose the right lesson content to use for the method, adapt the lesson objectives and the lesson material and support their students during the online learning. It is important that they have access to all the necessary hard- and software and training about the use of it. But even more important is that they get the time to create their FTC courses and that they feel supported by the technical team, the subject team and the institution management.

Therefore, a training will be provided by the Polyflip project to help teachers to get the pedagogical and technological knowledge and competences needed to implement the FTC method for (a part of) their subject content. To develop the training, we will take lessons from two European projects realised on the flipped classroom method for adult education an vocational training (iFlip and Flipping First). 

 

ADVANTAGES

Based on the Erasmus+ project iFlip (2016-2018) http://projectiflip.eu/en/project-results/ and FlippingFirst (2016-2018) and the main advantages and challenges for educators can be situated in

  • Out-of class training
    The teachers appreciated the out-of-class preparation they had to follow before coming to the training, because they could learn at “their own speed and learning hours.” Important for the pilot group of teachers was also that they could check their progress regularly with a quiz and as such “got good feedback on own progress “. 
  • Face-to-face training
    The 5-day-training has been highly valued by the sixteen participants, based on the results from the questionnaire already commented higher on. In the free comments the participants shared some extra considerations, such as “Time spent in class is used more efficiently and goal-oriented” and ” iFlip is an innovative approach for teaching”. 
  • Designing of own flipped classroom pilot-courses
    Once designing their own courses, the teachers indicated that they sometimes struggled with ICT-skills and needed the support of an IT assistant. It was important for them to focus on the course content and didactics of the method and not on the technical implementation, though one of the teachers wrote “that the IT-related work was a great learning experience for me as well”. During the designing process, the teachers were becoming more demanding about the quality of the produced media: “The material can easily be developed with free software and basic hardware, but the more you are recognizing and appreciating the strengths, the more you experience the need of higher quality video and sound capture hardware and software”.
  • Testing out the pilot courses with students
    During the implementation of the pilots, the teachers learned that the flipped classroom method “provides an ability to reduce time for face-to-face learning and enables differentiation among learners” and that the “individual approach supports active participation of weaker participants” so that “time spent in class is used more efficiently and goal-oriented”.
    The teachers also appreciated that “the courses/lessons are digital and online and we are able to add resources and activities at any time. The quality of the resources and activities can be improved in the time.”

 

CHALLENGES

The challenges can be categorized into technical and organizational issues. 

  • Technical pitfalls for teachers
    The fact that ICT skills are needed for both educators and adult learners is outlined as a pitfall “because it requires some technical skills (fluency with programs for creating videos, quizzes, assignments, etc.)”
    Furthermore “we realise the need of some degree of consistency between teachers’ and learners’ ICT skills” and “not all learners are familiar with or in possession of ICT devices”.
  • Organizational pitfalls for teachers
    The teachers experienced the development of the pilot courses according to FTC methodology as “time consuming”. Once testing their pilots, “some learners did not dedicate enough time to view materials in advance and came unprepared to the face-to-face class ”.