Last updated: July 29. 2013 12:01AM - 2234 Views

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Over the last 15 years, educators have been developing a model that literally stands the classroom on its head.

This disruptive innovation uses a variety of technologies to promote change for improvement. The disruptive innovator creates change through a mishmash of current technologies, such as Wikispaces, Edmodo and Screencast, rather than development of new technologies. Educators are using disruptive innovation to invert the classroom.

Flipping the classroom is a unique use of disruptive innovation that is gaining wide acceptance in the educational community. The basic idea behind the concept is simple: Have students do at home what they normally would do in the classroom, and conversely, do in the classroom what they would do at home. Instead of passively listening to lectures in the classroom with an expert talking at the students, the students view lectures at home through the Internet, freeing classroom time for application and experimentation of the concepts presented in the lecture.

From the late 19th century through the 20th century, the educational model in the United States followed the industrial model. This educational model seats student in rows of desks and delivers a standard education aimed at the average student. Many students are simply bored.

Enter the flipped classroom.

The idea of the flipped classroom most likely originates with the publication of “Effective Grading” in 1998. The authors, Barbara Walvoord and Virginia Johnson, argued that teachers should give first exposure to the course’s concepts prior to class and concentrate on the processing part of learning in the classroom.

The model, however, encompasses more than lectures at night and homework during the day. And it is.

The instructor creates outside-of-the-classroom activities through the use of video lectures, slides and videos from places such as YouTube, Khan Academy or TED.com. It does not matter when the student interacts with the material because the interaction with the material is more important. Additionally, the instructor develops a variety of activities for real-time learning within the classroom. Now, the activities like homework take place in the classroom, and the activities like lectures take place outside the classroom

The at-home activities are the starting point, since these are where the student explores concepts and discovers the meaning of these ideas. The student seeks answers to “What?” and “So-What?” questions. Since these are individual activities, they can take place through technology formats delivered via the Internet. The student-to-explore concepts (“What”) uses a range of Internet tools, including audio and video lectures developed by the instructor or found on the Internet. Additionally, the student can engage in on-line chats with fellow students or students from around the world. Engagement with content rich websites enhances the exploration.

In seeking the answer to the “So-What” question, the student employs such technologies as blogs, reflective podcasts and vodcasts. Self-testing enables students to determine the strength of their learning. All of these activities come about through disruptive innovation that disrupts the industrial model of education.

So what does the teacher do? Well, the teacher is responsible for not only creating the on-line environment, but also the classroom setting where the real-time activities take place. In this in-class learning environment, the student seeks answers to the questions of “Now What?” and “How to Apply the Learning?” Instructors must provide educationally enriching activities for these groups of learners.

These group endeavors, termed demonstration, application and experiential engagement, are achieved through creative and personalized projects and presentations, and hands-on activities, simulations, experiments, case studies and applications from the arts.

Whether our schools embrace these new educational models or continue the industrial model depends on appropriate funding for technology and the development of educators. The world is changing at a dynamic pace and education must change as rapidly as well.

It’s time to flip the classroom.


John Kachurick is an associate professor of business and former director of the Organizational Management Graduate Program at Misericordia University in Dallas.

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