This is part two of a two-part post on the definition of Flipped Learning. Part one, “I’ve Copyrighted ‘Flipped Classroom’”, discusses how the term came about and why it has many misconceptions.
The Wikipedia entry for ‘flip teaching‘ mentions the use of project-based learning (PBL) in a flipped class. I’ve heard many argue that everything users claim they accomplish with flipped learning, they can also accomplish with PBL or inquiry learning (IL). I would say I use elements of both in my class, as well as Writer’s Workshop. They all worked in some regards and I didn’t abandon them entirely. However, they fell short in different areas…for me. Flipped Learning allowed me, though, through the use of asynchronous instruction the ability to incorporate all these models into my class based on what I found worked for each lesson or objective.
I thought I’d look up the academic definition of both PBL and IL.
The Buck Institute for Education, widely considered the definitive source on PBL, define it as:
“a systematic teaching method that engages students in learning essential knowledge and life-enhancing skills through an extended, student-influenced inquiry process structured around complex, authentic questions and carefully designed products and tasks.”
Interestingly enough, in a summary of research by John W. Thomas (2000), was this sentence:
“First, as Tretten and Zachariou (1997) report in their observation report on Project-Based Learning in multiple classrooms, the variety of practices under the banner of PBL makes it difficult to assess what is and what is not PBL, and whether what you are observing is a ‘real project.’”
This was 1997. I believe this is where Flipped Learning is now. There are so many different iterations, it is difficult to pin down what is and what is not Flipped Learning.
Inquiry, I found, is a variation of discovery learning and minimal guidance learning. Also of interest I found that it was almost exclusively associated with Science and Math. Since it has been around since the 60s, there is more research on IL. Granted I didn’t do extensive research as this is a blog and not an academic paper. I only did what Google provided me over the last hour or so. But, I found many different definitions for IL. So, to Wikipedia. Inquiry learning “describes a range of philosophical, curricular and pedagogical approaches to teaching.” And further, “Inquiry learning is a form of active learning, where progress is assessed by how well students develop experimental and analytical skills rather than how much knowledge they possess.”
So, where does that leave us? I would agree that flipped learning in some regards sounds very similar to PBL and IL. Therefore, defining where one stands in their teaching methods or philosophy becomes difficult.
Recently, some flipclass proponents have begun to postulate that Flipped Learning is not the “flip” of homework with lecture (although that is where the name originated). It is now more accurately the “flip” of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Time-shifting some instruction allows the students to spend more time in the higher level process of Bloom’s in the presence of their teacher and thus more time in the lower levels of Bloom’s outside the classroom.
Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams didn’t coin the term “flipped”. I would guess that in 2007 when they started their personal journey in this area, they never thought it would lead to where it is now. So, they probably didn’t spend a lot of time contemplating names. The term “Flipped Classroom” didn’t even appear until 2010 when Karl Fink and Daniel Pink identified it as such in blog posts. And, that’s what is so appealing to many. The Flipped Class is a grassroots movement of teachers searching for a better way to teach.
My work with my podcast, with blogging, with presenting, I believe is helping Flipping Learning grow and become better. I’m not offering Flipped Learning as the answer to all things bad in education. I’m not saying Flipped Learning isn’t without some criticism. What I’ve found is that many flipclass leaders are consistently developing this idea we call Flipped Learning/Teaching/Classroom. We all challenge each other to think and re-think what we do in and out of the classroom.
Therefore, what Flipped Learning means (to me) is something that works for my teaching style in my classroom for my students. It is not what defines me or my class. It is not the only method/technique/tool that I use. But, most importantly, Flipped Learning causes me to re-evaluate every lesson I do to see if there is a better way.
What does Flipped Learning mean to you?
Image Credits: Kids Working by USM MS photos on Flickr
Troy Cockrum is the host of EdReach’s show Flipped Learning, a show for educators interested in flipping. Flipped Learning interviews educators using flipped learning and highlight best practices and innovated uses for flipped learning. You can follow him on Twitter @tcockrum.