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The Flipped Classroom - Flipping the Script for 21st Century Learners

The Flipped Classroom - Flipping the Script for 21st Century Learners

by Maggie Broderick
October 06, 2016

I’m both a parent and a teacher. When my kids want to learn something new, they go and find a Youtube video on how to do it and then gather the things that they need to get it done. My 10-year-old daughter did this just the other day when she wanted to try out a new recipe. My husband did the same thing when we needed to fix a leak under our sink. Similarly, the students in my online Teacher Education courses research ideas for their lesson plans by watching other teachers teach in online videos of their classrooms.

This is how 21st century learners of all ages learn. We have rapidly become a “how to” society in which we can immediately find a demo online of anything we might want to learn how to do, and then we go about doing it. This type of self-directed learning is a big change from how things were done only a decade or so ago, and has big implications for classroom-based teaching and learning. Teachers no longer need to start with a teacher-led lecture and reading a textbook, followed by written homework assignments. We can go from a how-to video or demonstration to the actual doing.


The new trend of the Flipped Classroom is based on this “how to” concept. It engages the learner from the very beginning by flipping the usual script. To make this work, the teacher facilitates learning by providing access to helpful videos or presentations online. The learner must be responsible and self-directed at home (or elsewhere) for the initial part of the lesson. Then, the learners all converge with the instructor to co-create knowledge, scaffold their learning, and engage in hands-on activities together. Learners who are exposed to the material at home before the classroom lesson may either completely master the material before class or need additional help. Teachers can then group learners based on readiness in order to properly differentiate instruction for various levels, interests, motivations, and so forth. At the same time, it also allows for interaction during the whole class phase of the lesson instead of wasting too much time on the presentational aspects. For both the teacher and the student, it can be refreshing to think about things in these new terms!

What is a “Flipped Classroom?”

A big part of the Flipped Classroom is technology. Many teachers have used things like Smartboards and desktop computers for years in our classrooms. Some of us may have recently used mobile devices, such as tablet computers and cell phones.

Take a look at the following link regarding the use of technology in today's 21st century classrooms:


Learners no longer simply do one sort of work at home (homework) and one sort of work at school (seat work). In fact, technology and 21st century approaches to teaching and learning can meld the environments of school and home, with the virtual environment of the internet bridging the gap. Things like classroom/school websites, wikis, blogs, and even social media allow learners, teachers, and even parents to connect the dots between what is happening in the school and the learning that goes on at home, after the school day.

Flipping the classroom takes this use of technology to a whole new level:


While this may seem overwhelming to teachers at first, the good news is that it is possible to "flip" your classroom without using huge amounts of time and effort. Simply linking learners to videos and other materials on the core content to be explored more deeply in the face-to-face lesson is enough to get learners to interact with the content on their own terms before the main time together in the classroom. Another benefit of this approach is self-directed learning and responsibility on the part of the student, both of which are traits that many older teachers may feel that the younger generation should spend more time developing these days. When implemented mindfully, this can be a win-win situation for both the teacher and the student.

Tips on flipping your Classroom