The flipped learning environment may sound pretty simple in concept, but every blended learning pro out there is all-too-aware of what it really takes to make this modern-day teaching style come to life.
While the benefits of flipped learning are clear, finding your rhythm in the flipped classroom takes time and effort, and implementing this approach effectively takes more than just a revised classroom strategy.
That’s why so many educators who make the flip emphasize the importance of good time management strategies in order to be effective in implementing this style of learning delivery. While jumping in and creating cool content might be exciting, good planning and following a tentative schedule rooted in clear goals will help every educator and institution out there create effective, measurable, and repeatable learning experiences.
But where to start?
Start By Identifying Your Flippable Moments
Barbi Honeycutt Ph.D., over at Faculty Focus points out that educators who get interested in flipped learning tend to get very interested in flipped learning - and can you blame them? This digital-friendly approach helps teachers:
- Take advantage of an unlimited realm of engagement tools to enhance the learning experience
- Have access to ever-evolving ways to create, share and publish learning material
- More proactively surface areas of learning opportunity to then foster better learning outcomes
But as Dr. Honeycutt warns, committing to an entirely blended approach overnight can inadvertently lead to burnout. She recommends to first identify your flippable moments - for example, recurring moments of confusion or boredom - and experiment with your current curriculum before making a full switch. By gradually introducing flippable moments into existing lesson plans, educators can begin to see what works (and what doesn’t) with their learners.
You can more easily introduce flippable moments by creating digital learning objects from your existing content. This helps you keep track of what pieces of learning material worked and which ones didn’t, and then more easily reuse the best-performing of the bunch.
Organize Your Learning Objectives
Dr. Robert Talbert of Grand Valley State University recently published an article on the topic of time management in the flipped classroom. In it, he stresses the importance of starting with good learning objectives that anchor student activities and provide them with the boundaries they need to focus their efforts.
Dr. Talbert recommends taking a look at your list of learning objectives and splitting them into two groups: basic and advanced objectives.
Basic objectives are the ones found on the lower two levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy and involve learning tasks like the recall of simple facts, or explanations of simple concepts. In the flipped classroom, students complete these tasks outside of the classroom and not during class time—so this list should be made up of some of the more simple objectives that will spark thought and discussion down the road.
Advanced objectives on the other hand are - you guessed it - more advanced. These focus on higher-level concepts that take time, thought, and discussion to fully grasp. They are often more vague, technical, and represent the real meat-and-potatoes of the subject matter that falls within the middle third of Bloom’s Taxonomy. In a well-planned flipped classroom, students will use their time in class to explore these objectives further and make the most out of their face-to-face time with peers and instructors through active learning.
Categorizing your learning objectives makes it easier to create a division in labour to communicate how time should be used both before and in-class. As Dr. Talbert points out, “by restricting pre-class work to just the basics, students are given work that they can be reasonably expected to complete, along with permission not to fully understand the advanced material yet.”
Define How Time Will Be Used Inside and Outside the Classroom
In order to make sure that you’re getting the most out of classroom time, it’s important to set expectations with your students from the start. That means being clear about how the assigned materials will help to support active face-to-face learning, as well as the role that students play in their own learning and education.
This may be particularly important for students who are entering higher education and who have not yet been exposed to a flipped learning environment. Students that are more familiar with passive learning styles may not be prepared for flipped learning, and communicating expectations clearly will help them transition more smoothly and mitigate for time lost through unclear expectations.
In fact, some educators have even gone as far as to pre-empt potential miscommunications by including their pedagogical approach directly on the course syllabus. That means that students know what to expect from day one, and are better prepared to make the most of the blended learning environment.
Preparation is Key
No matter what your approach to flipped learning, it’s important to have the right strategies, tools, and support in place to make sure that everyone is getting the most out of the experience.
While educators, institutions, and students alike may need to adjust to the challenges that come along with the 21st-century classroom, proactive preparation will help to set the stage for both current and future learning.