Archives mensuelles : septembre 2016

Teaching and learning in higher education: the magic of flipped learning

A flipped course is designed so as to engage the students in an in-depth learning experience. In such a learning environment, it’s interesting to observe how the in-class and remote activities are linked and how the students work in teams throughout the semester. More than a revolution, the flipped classroom model is an evolution in teaching that takes into account the characteristics of new generations of learners and the externalization of knowledge in the digital world.

When the printing press appeared, at the end of the sixteenth century Montaigne proclaimed loud and clear in his essays that he preferred a fully developed mind to a head full of facts, a mind which knows how to reflect rather than to accumulate knowledge, a mind that knows how to find facts rather than to memorize them. Today, students have on their computers all the knowledge available and search engines can find information faster than any experienced competent librarian could ever do. In his essay on the “Petite poucette or Tom Thumb” generation, these young people who type messages with their thumbs on their telephones at a disconcerting speed, Serres (Serres, 2013) goes so far as to say that the computer houses and operates what we formerly called our faculties. Freed from the obligation to learn, retain, and “regurgitate” knowledge, here is an amazing opportunity to rethink, to create and reinvent the articulation and understanding of the world.

In my flipped classroom students work in teams and, together, they solve problems, discuss and run critical writings together; their learning is even assessed on the basis of their teamwork. An empty chair at each table welcomes the teacher when a group poses a comprehension question or calls for clarification. The discussions, explanations and demonstrations are so animated and cheerful that it is hard to believe that there are not only students around the table. We see here a genuine partnership between students and teachers who are both seeking the same goal: understanding the subject matter. By putting the teachers at the same level in space as the students we foster cooperative work among all the members of a team. The teacher is part of the team and is treated as a resource in the same way as any other member of the team. Admittedly, we should nevertheless consider the quantity of resources necessary for the guidance of such a framework and, furthermore, the students’ motivation to adhere to it. The time invested during the running of the course and the availability of the teachers and assistants are likely to be major challenges for many institutions wishing to set off on such an adventure. Nonetheless, we can only underline the fact that in a flipped classroom, the learning experience of the students develops in a hybrid environment that is in phase with its time, promoting deep learning through stimulating activities in which the students have no choice but to be involved.

 

Dumont, A., Berthiaume, D. (2016) La pédagogie inversée: enseigner autrement dans le supérieur. Chapitre 6 Bruxelles: De Boeck.