Flipping the Classroom, a blended learning approach


Flipping the Classroom is part of a Blended Learning approach to delivering content to students.  The website flippedlearning.org defines Flipped Learning as:

‘a pedagogical approach in which direct instruction moves from the group learning space to the individual learning space, and the resulting group space is transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment where the educator guides students as they apply concepts and engage creatively in the subject matter.’

Teachers all around the globe are leveraging the use of sophisticated, internet-powered tools to deliver flipped learning to their students.

Teachers are no longer the sage on the stage, but assume the role of guide on the side.

It means a more differentiated class; students who can work independently will forge ahead, only stopping when they need some intervention from the teacher.  Students who need more support can watch the content at their discretion, over again if needed, and the teacher has more time to work with them one on one.

The emphasis is on learning, not whole class teaching.

Which brings me to an amazing teacher from Jindalee, just a few kilometers west of the Brisbane CBD.   Steve Mills is a HPE HOD, and is always looking for ways to improve his practice and engage his students.  I met Steve at the start of the year during some sessions where I showcased OneNote, Office Mix, Snip, Docs and Sway.  Steve stayed to chat afterwards, and before long had purchased a Surface Pro 3.  He had recognised the amazing potential of the Surface device, with its multiple input methods, coupled with the tools that he saw on display in January.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  Steve has begun a journey that will benefit his students as well as himself.  Through my role as a Teacher Ambassador, I have been able to offer some advice and encouragement through the lens of the Microsoft ecosystem of tools and online support resources.  It is amazing that teachers like Steve are outlaying their own hard-earned money and investing significant time outside of the classroom hours to transform their teaching and learning.

It is good to know that the educational suite of tools like OneNote, Office Mix, Snip and Sway are free to use for teachers to deliver new learning strategies at ease.

Steve joined the Educator Community at education.microsoft.com, which allowed him to find lessons, support and training – all for free.  He made his new approach into a project that he has presented to his leadership team.

The responses were very encouraging:

‘I like the fact you are challenging traditional pedagogical practice with an approach that may well be better suited to the contemporary world of our students.’

‘It is also pleasing to see that students are responding well to the new concept and are able to demonstrate more meaningful learning in the classroom environment, after all there is no point investing the time and effort into a practice which has no real return.’

‘I really like how the students have to take more responsibility for their learning by ensuring that they have understood the content before they come to class. I think running a flipped classroom would allow more opportunities to refine and extend the students’ learning as well as apply intervention during class time for those who ‘don’t get it’.’

He also addressed the classroom learning environment to ensure that the students were able collaborate more.  Rows facing the front are not necessary if the majority of the content is not delivered from a teacher standing at the front of the room.

‘I have redesigned my classroom now which is really cool. I have created learning ‘pods’ in my classroom (communal work / sharing spaces I guess) and supplied a screen with each one so that kids can sit (or stand!!) in groups and have individual machines in front of them, but also a large screen that can be seen by all and displaying whatever the group wants!’

Steve is still discovering the power of the pen, and has a goal to improve his use.  A great way to do that is with Office Mix.  Teachers can ink over the top of PowerPoint slides to emphasise content.  Steve has a great example here from his first Mix lesson.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  Steve has begun a journey that will benefit his students as well as himself.  Through my role as a Teacher Ambassador, I have been able to offer some advice and encouragement through the lens of the Microsoft ecosystem of tools and online support resources.  It is amazing that teachers like Steve are outlaying their own hard-earned money and investing significant time outside of the classroom hours to transform their teaching and learning.

Written by Matt Jorgensen. Matt Jorgensen is part of the Microsoft Australia Teacher Ambassador and Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert programmes.

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