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Our head tutor's tips, tricks and thoughts for all your SAT, ACT, and US College Prep needs.

'Flipped' classroom and online learning

Elizabeth von Nardroff

Here are my thoughts on ‘flipped classrooms’ and how it enhances online class learning.

I started out as an ACT/SAT tutor. However, like many, my tutoring has turned more and more to online teaching and  to online SAT and ACT courses. Because of this, I’ve fully embraced the ‘flipped classroom’ technique.

For those who haven’t heard of the ‘flipped classroom,’ it’s a teaching method which turns the old style on its head. In the past, students were taught material in the classroom and then the work would be re-enforced by homework. The drawback of this was the limited time spent with students during their active time of learning. Indeed, the majority of time students spent with teachers was them passively taking in the information via lecture. In the ‘flipped’ classroom, teaching is done the other way around. Students learn the material prior to the lesson, which can be done either by reading the material or by video introductions. The classroom time is then spent practicing the material under the guidance of the teacher. Many argue that this guided re-enforcement is when the real, quality learning takes place and allows for more meaningful student-teacher interaction. Before I had even heard of this technique, I had found myself creating and uploading certain lessons for students to watch in their own time in order to ensure the time we spent together would be engaging.  I like being able to students as they mastered the material, not as it was introduced.

How has this played out in my online courses? It’s made all the difference! First off, students originally learn a concept by reading my workbook, or watching an interactive video lesson with quiz questions that need to be answered correctly before the next bit of video can be viewed. Once the student completes the lesson, there are online questions to answer. If a student has trouble with a question, there is a video solution available straight away for the answer. If then a student still feels uncertain, the question is flagged for review by me with our next meeting – either live or by Skype, email or recorded video response! This way, time spent with me is being used to cover only the most essential material. All the while I’m following my students’ progress – I see the work they are doing, I see which questions they are answering – correctly and incorrectly – as well as seeing which video solutions they are watching. Based on students work, quizzes are created and further lessons assigned. Despite the geographical distances that may be between us, I feel quite close to my students. In fact, I feel more engaged with them than I did under the older, pre-flipped learning environment as I see what they’re doing every step of the way.