Flipped Classrooms Promote Knowledge 'Production'

by: Zack Blois on Mar 1, 2013 3:16:00 PM

Schools across the country are plagued daily by the ‘passive learner’ conundrum. Students come to school each day but are not actively involved in creating and obtaining the content knowledge needed to develop higher-level thinking and deeper understanding.

Maybe this is similar to something you see in your classroom or school? If so, don’t worry, there are means to reach and engage these ‘passive learners’. The ‘flipped classroom’ model uses digital resources and content to move away from lecture-based, one-sized-fits-all instruction and towards continual, self-driven ‘learning-by-doing’! (see diagram below)

Continuous Knowledge 'Production' Flow Chart (click to enlarge) 

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Digital Self-Learning

Flipped classrooms begin by allowing the student to self-learn the basic concepts and ideas of a lesson via thorough and engaging digital content. Much of today’s students are already familiar with the available technology and are excited to learn with up-to-date digital content and media, including:

  • virtual class resources and lessons
  • adaptive homework and assessments
  • interactive digital manipulatives
  • customizable student avatars and characters
  • instructional videos and slideshows
  • game-based learning platforms

The student’s interest in the new technology and media furthers the self-drive to learn and creates a much higher engagement and understanding level.

Connection to Content

tire changingThe technology advances are great, but the true education breakthrough is that technology now allows the student to interact and ‘do’ while learning.

Think back to the first time you had to change a tire. You could be ‘told how’ or ‘shown how’ in a manual, but chances are you didn’t gain a full understanding of how to change a tire until you did it yourself.

Student learning functions the same way! These little tools students use to remember and recall basic skills are called schema. Students can be ‘told’ about needed basic skills and may very well develop schema, but they are going to create stronger schema, or personal connections to the skills, by ‘doing it’ (and making mistakes) hands-on and at their own pace.

Increased Retention

But, stronger schema is not the only benefit of self-learning. Think back to the tire changing example. You’re also probably much more likely to remember how to change the tire (or to avoid the mistakes you made changing a tire last time) after describe the imagehaving completed the task yourself.

Similarly, because the student has created personal connections to their learning and basic skills, he or she is more likely to recall, and apply, the learned skills, information, and/or knowledge in higher-level thought and application.

Teacher Scaffolding

Here's where the blended learning aspect of flipped classrooms really hits full stride. Educators must take advantage of the stronger personal connections, schema, and retention levels by utilizing effective in-depth activities, projects, and learning objects geared to promote higher-level thought, communication, analysis, and real-world application!

Teachers can focus their instruction to further promote ‘deeper understanding’ via:

  • project-based learning activities
  • problem-based learning activities
  • mock real-life situations and experiences
  • ‘writing about learning' prompts
  • building and creating models
  • inquiry-based learning activities

Learning-by-Doing

Here’s the kicker: flipped classroom environments require student engagement to function, but students continuously choose to self-engage because the learning and content is fun, differentiated, and deep.

By combining engaging, self-driven student learning and teacher-instructed higher-order activities, schools can finally stop seeing their students as ‘consumers’ of knowledge and start helping students become constant ‘producers’ of knowledge!


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Topics: Blended Learning