Flipped Learning: Student Centric Pedagogy

Covid-19 pandemic suddenly afflicted humanity. The pandemic offered opportunities as well. The Higher Education Department in J & K had started process of switching over to flipped classroom, beginning this session. Thus, leading to digital learning willingly or unwillingly. The digital paced instruction transactions from bottom to top in educational hierarchy going presently (Google Classroom, Edmodo or in some cases Zoom or Google meet), resulted in flipped learning. So, flipped learning is deliberated upon, based on some of my experiences at Jamia Millia Islamia, and I adopted it in my own classroom.

FLIP forms the four pillars of flipped learning environment; F – flexible environment, L – learning culture, I – intentional content and P – professional educators. Teacher creates the flexible space, where student choose when and what to learn and the teacher who flips needs to be flexible in their expectations of timelines, so as to give ample time to students to learn at their own pace.

Different timelines are adopted when assessment is made. In class session, the students are actively engaged in active learning by giving problems, developing concepts, hands on activities which will engage them in higher level thinking.

Thus, culture of inquisitiveness is provided by student participation in construction and evaluation of their learning. Educator thinks continuously what and how to teach, develop concepts and application. Intentional content is provided to adopt active learning strategies depending on subject and the level. For flipped learning, professional educator plays a key role. He makes keen observations and provides instant feedback and inputs.

In flipped classroom, the traditional classroom teaching is inverted. In traditional classroom, the teacher delivers the topic followed by homework. Contrarily, in flipped classroom students study the topic at home and come to the class to clarify doubts by raising questions to apply knowledge.

In former setup, a teacher is in-between students and knowledge. While as, in later, students have direct access to knowledge and role of a teacher is more of a coach, facilitator, counselor, or a mentor. This is possible by giving students the relevant material covering a topic including pre-recorded video lectures, power point presentations, study material, lecture notes, books, pdf’s, different links or published research papers based on lesson plan.

Flipped learning aims at developing learning experiences for students where the teacher acts as a facilitator or guide. Emphasis is on the development of conceptual understanding, higher-order critical thinking and application of knowledge from simple to complex problems.

Flipped classroom encourages self-paced learning; students play, pause, stop and replay. Students are prepared for the class well in advance and come with their observations, queries and questions, leading to learning effectively. An opportunity is provided to teachers to target those students demanding more attention or who are slow learners in the class. At the same time, quick learners are grouped with slow learners so that there is sharing of knowledge in the classroom sessions, encouraging ‘peer-learning’. 

The beauty is that teacher is among the students in the class rather in the front, so a teacher and students become co-learners. The teachers have not to present lectures, but focus on the needs of class and prepare tasks, tutorial, projects etc. Assigning projects, tutorials, case studies, role plays on problem solving to students in groups paves the way for exploring the subject understanding  in depth. Also, students who miss any session can move forward with their peers faster and in easier way.

A teacher in this model does not need to explain the content; he has more time to mentor students in better understanding of concepts through application. Flipped classroom provides a teacher an opportunity to offer a versatile and engaging way to communicate and teach with the control in students’ hands to learn.

Last but not least, those teachers who may have issues with communication can use third party videos. Once a lecture is recorded, it is reused though of course with some additions and deletions from time to time till the content is revised periodically.

Our experience in flipped setup is that the role of a teacher and a student is different from the traditional classroom.  Learners are exposed to challenging roles. During the session, teacher clarifies the misconceptions and also provides students the immediate and real time feedback. One of the core responsibilities of a teacher is to find or create most appropriate and effective course content.

A teacher ensures to provide active learning environment and plan follow up activities. So, a great deal of planning is required by a teacher for a flipped classroom. At the same side, the role of students changes from passive recipients to active constructors of knowledge. The first responsibility of the students is to engage in OUTCLASS activities.

Today’s  students having access to technology and well versed with the use of modern gadgets have to use this technology to communicate in groups so that collaborative learning takes place. The students, therefore work in pairs or small groups and discuss concepts, solve problems or find answers. To make flipped classroom a success, these students have to actively participate in INCLASS activities.

The basic plan of flipped class requires six steps. The first is to select a topic to be flipped, identify learning objectives inconsonance with learning outcomes and design the lesson plan accordingly. Second, academic resources are either created or curated.

The third and the fourth step are sharing of the resources with the students and then confirming the students have actually gone through the content. The fifth and sixth step – group and regroup formation are the important steps for sessions. Forming small group’s gives each student an equal opportunity to give his views and ask questions, regrouping allows the ideas and opinions to be shared with the whole class, encouraging discussion and boosting learning. The model is summarized in the form of a concept map.

At present, in my opinion we are at the primary step of this blended learning. We have shared the material in the form of videos (self-created or from YouTube), power points, e-books etc with the students. Preliminary assessment of content understanding has also been done in the form of quiz and questions.

Open book type questions and term papers can be assigned for deeper understanding and developing concepts. Once the situation improves, and we are back to our institutions, groups can be formed and ‘inclass’ activities carried out.

I believe learning by this approach, will be fun and save time, if planned well in advance. But without a proper plan, infrastructure, facilities like uninterrupted internet and gadgets to access it, there is a great risk of limiting the benefits of this model. Flip is basically student centric pedagogy.

Dr. Shah Ubaid-ullah is Assistant Professor (Biotechnology) at Govt Degree College, Baramulla.

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