Simple Machine: Flipping the Classroom Propels Learning
By Heather Clydesdale
Steve Jobs described computers as “the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.”
Borrowing the Apple, Inc. founder and former CEO’s analogy, flipped learning is like a bicycle for the class: It applies simple mechanisms to take students and teachers further with less effort.
In flipped learning, students acquaint themselves with new content and practice skills ahead of class via activities developed by their teacher and posted online. When class convenes, time that once was consumed explaining fresh concepts can instead be used engaging in project-based activities.
Wenping Chen, a Chinese teacher and teacher-educator, is a convert to the format, and so are her students. “The first year, I did not believe they [students] would do the preview,” she says. “They did. Some prefer it to a group setting. It does help me a lot.”
Chen’s endeavors are part of a larger initiative at her school, the Mandarin Language and Cultural Center (MLCC) in San Jose, California. Over the past three years, MLCC educators have made a concerted effort to flip their classrooms using three components: asynchronous online sessions, synchronous online sessions, and classroom sessions.
“Kids can learn any time and at their own pace,” says MLCC principal, Jane Chen, describing asynchronous learning, where students log on and learn at their leisure.