TouchTechQUT

A while back, I spoke with Kaleb Plamondon about using networked AV in a flipped classroom environment. Technology solutions like Networked AV are great for innovative educational approaches, such as the flipped classroom approach, but what exactly is a “flipped classroom” in the first place? More importantly, why have flipped classrooms become a popular teaching method, and what can this approach teach us about education at large? The “flipped classroom” gets its name from the way it “flips” the portion of education that happens inside and outside of class. Rather than having the in-class portion be traditional lecturing with the students passively listening and taking notes, flipped classroom students watch lecture videos online. Rather than doing out-of-class homework and group projects, students come to class to collaborate and study in groups.

Flipped classrooms have their roots in a related education approach: active learning. Active learning is an instructional method in which students engage in a variety of activities to learn their study material, including reading, writing, talking, listening and reflecting. It is a group-based, interactive learning style that is centered on problem solving and learning by doing.

Institutions are becoming increasingly interested in flipped classrooms, as the importance of collaboration is becoming increasingly vital for educational success. Numerous studies have shown that when students are able to work collaboratively in an active learning environment, knowledge retention and student satisfaction all increase (Michael, 2006). Historically, learning was a singular process. The communication of information was mostly one-directional, with any conversation between the teacher and the students being mostly Socratic question and answer. However, in recent years, there has been an increased focus on intercommunication and idea-sharing between students.

This is because, despite what traditional teaching models might have you believe, education is not limited to a single person standing at the front of a room lecturing to a group of rapt pupils. Rather, education is an intrinsically social prospect, and when you facilitate learning between the individuals who have knowledge and those who need it, it can create an environment of rapid knowledge growth.

This is why schools have begun embracing methodologies to encourage knowledge sharing, both in-classroom and remote. The ability to use technology to share knowledge and co-learn between people across geographies has shown significant impact on education, as has the ability for students to learn on their own, at their own pace. Flexible classrooms allow students to view lectures and perform solo learning at home, and then meet in the classroom for group activities and interpersonal learning. The addition of remote learning allows students to join in these collaborative exercises from anywhere, extending the size of the classroom and the range of perspectives.

These benefits are backed up by research, with studies reporting that using a flipped classroom approach “increased [the] levels of student achievement, interest and engagement” (Herreid & Schiller, 2013). This was demonstrated in a major study of science education, which found that students in flipped classrooms achieved higher test scores and greater overall classroom success than comparable students in traditional education classes (Ruddick, 2012).

Active learning has a significant impact not only on the way the class is taught, but also in the way the room environment is setup and used. In a flipped classroom, desks are shifting from traditional static rows to movable clusters. Active learning classrooms are becoming more popular in higher education, with a growing demand for the adoption of this type of classroom. To keep up with the trends, traditional classrooms have to be remodeled into dynamic, technology-rich project rooms. Active learning classrooms have to be flexible and inspire collaboration.

Technology is a key component of the success of this approach. This is because studies have found that “millennials reared on rapidly evolving technologies demonstrate decreased tolerance for lecture-style dissemination of course information” (Roehl, Shweta, & Shannon, 2013). Instead, the majority teachers in flipped classrooms reported that they prefer “videos over reading materials” for outside student preparation (Herreid & Schiller, 2013).

Teachers then rely on technology in the classroom to allow students and teachers to share information together and work collaboratively on classroom projects, finding that “using class time for active learning versus lecture provides opportunities for greater teacher-to-student mentoring, peer-to-peer collaboration and cross-disciplinary engagement” (Roehl, Shweta, & Shannon, 2013). Indeed, studies have found that “the use of technology [in flipped classrooms] is flexible and appropriate for 21st century learning” (Herreid & Schiller, 2013).

Flexibility, in this case, is the most important part of a flipped classroom and an active learning approach. The in-classroom portion of a flipped class is very much driven by the specific project or activity at hand. Technology in these cases allows students to share information and collaborate in the manner and at the level with which they are most comfortable. Students can bring in laptops and mobile devices to share information with the class, or they can use other methods of information sharing if they wish. The technology in the classroom allows students to connect and collaborate in the manner they are familiar with and provides the ability for multiple students to share that information with the class.

This is where technology, such as networked AV, comes into play. AV technology in a flipped classroom allows students and teachers to connect and share information in the most flexible way possible, with the room able to change as student needs change—and also adapt and grow over time. Networked audio and video enables this flexibility and scalability.

Automation systems are also important in these environments. With audio and video signals going from a variety of inputs to a number of outputs, a simple way to select signals is necessary. Tools like AMX’s MyTurn cables allow students to connect to the AV system and press a button on the cable to change their local display to their laptop. Professors can then use a touch-based control panel to send the video from any of the student tables to video displays throughout the classroom.

Collaboration between students is vital to a modern educational environment, and having the right technology to help foster that collaboration can make a big difference, especially in a flipped classroom. To learn more about what a modern flipped classroom looks like, check out this case study from the University of Western Australia:

 

Do you have experience designing flipped classrooms? Share your insights in the comments.

 


References

Herreid, C. F., & Schiller, N. A. (2013, May/June). Case Studies and the Flipped Classroom. Journal of College Science Teaching, 42, No. 5, 62-66.

Michael, J. (2006, December 1). Where’s the Evidence that Active Learning Works? Advances in Physiology Education, 30(4), 159-167.

Roehl, A., Shweta, L. R., & Shannon, G. J. (2013, Spring). The Flipped Classroom: An Opportunity To Engage Millennial Students Through Active Learning. Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, 105(2), 44-49.

Ruddick, K. W. (2012). Improving Chemical Education from High School to College Using a More Hands-On Approach. The University of Memphis.