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January 11, 2018

How Flipped Classrooms are Challenging Traditional Learning Environments

MHT Partners  | Education Investment Bank

Technology has always been a driving factor in revolutionizing the learning experience. The printing press allowed for the mass production of books, the abacus can arguably be considered the first calculation device, and where would we be today without the calculator?

While classrooms have certainly come a long way since one-room school houses, the traditional instruction model has remained the same for over a century – teachers lecture in class, and students complete their homework outside of class. However, with the increased availability and use of technology, educators are beginning to defy the traditional classroom model.

The idea of inverting the traditional classroom model originated in the early ‘90s. A professor published an article challenging the age-old model and stressed the importance of using class time for “construction of meaning” instead of “information transmission.” However, it was not until 2007 when two chemistry teachers from Colorado, John Bergmann and Aaron Sams, began “pre-broadcasting” lectures for students. The two teachers, determined to maximize student engagement and face-to-face time in the classroom, discovered a software allowing them to record annotated lectures. Students watched or listened to the lectures at home, leaving valuable time in the classroom for applied learning. The concept, coined the “flipped classroom,” was a success and has been making headway ever since.

What is the flipped classroom?

New material is learned outside the classroom, and traditional homework activities are completed in class. Students learn the new material via pre-recorded video lectures or podcasts. Meanwhile, class time is dedicated to applying the knowledge from recorded lessons, with students focusing on problem solving or collaborating on worksheets and projects.

What are the benefits?

Flipped classrooms prioritize student engagement, and students benefit from real-time feedback and participation. Hands-on activities in class allow for individualized instruction, and struggling students are less inclined to abandon homework. At home, students learn new material at their own pace, with the ability to rewind and re-watch lectures covering difficult topics.

The emergence of flipped classrooms is just as significant to the marketplace as it is beneficial to students. Still in its infancy, the flipped learning market is estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 35% between 2016 and 2020. The market is largely fragmented, with much of the projected growth driven through various submarkets, such as pre-created content (Khan Academy), video management platforms (Echo360, Panopto), content creation services (Adobe, Camtasia), and online course providers (Coursera, Udemy), among others. Many education and technology companies are expanding their services and functionalities as teachers deploy technology-driven learning models.

The growth of the flipped classroom model illustrates a broader underlying shift in the education industry – technology is redefining the role of educators and creating classroom environments focused on active learning and student engagement. As alternative pedagogies become increasingly widespread, the resources and tools students and teachers need are changing yet again, and companies are adapting in an effort to keep up.

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