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Inside the Flipped Classroom: How Video Supports Next-Gen Learning

/ Andrea Hattox

Three students sitting on steps of school watching flipped learning videos

Flipped learning has existed in some form or fashion as long as teaching has — but thanks to serious improvements in technology over recent years, the “flipped classroom” has gone from an instructional edge case to an absolute must-have.

Find out why in this comprehensive guide to all things flipped learning, where we cover:

What is a flipped classroom?

The “flipped classroom” refers to an instructional methodology in which learners are introduced to new material outside of the classroom and then devote in-class time to activity-based or participatory learning. (Note that flipped classrooms are sometimes called “inverted classrooms.”)

The flipped approach is not about adding more instructional time or requiring more at-home study from students; it’s instead about reallocating the existing time in a way that’s more effective for everyone involved.

Let’s illustrate the definition of a flipped classroom with a more specific example.

The traditional classroom model

Elementary school students sitting in rows of desks

The traditional learning model is probably what you picture when you think of the word “school”: students sitting quietly in neat rows of desks with an instructor at the blackboard giving a lecture. And this paints a pretty accurate picture of traditional teaching and learning!

Let’s say your 11th graders are learning about electrical circuits. A traditional means of instruction might look something like this:

  • The teacher gives a lecture about the components of an electrical circuit, the different types of circuits, and how they work.
  • Students take notes during the lecture.
  • Students receive a worksheet and some textbook review questions to complete for homework.

In terms of Bloom’s taxonomy, the in-class activities here are devoted to the lower-order skills of understanding and remembering. While these steps are absolutely essential to the learning progression, there’s often not enough instruction time available to cover the higher-order skills as well.

The flipped learning model

Group of students sitting in circle with laptops and engaging in group discussion

Unsurprisingly, the flipped learning model takes all the above-mentioned instructional conventions and gives ‘em a 180-degree spin! Here’s what the exact same lesson might look like when you flip your classroom:

  • The instructor creates instructional videos (or gathers other content, like readings or audio files) to introduce electrical circuits.
  • Students watch the short videos at home, reviewing it as many times as needed to reach understanding.
  • In the classroom, students work together to build an elementary electrical circuit. The teacher rotates between groups to facilitate, support, and pose questions.

In the flipped model, skills like understanding and remembering are reserved for at-home learning, while classroom time is spent providing active opportunities to apply, analyze, evaluate, and create.

Students are responsible for coming to class with a basic understanding of concepts, and teachers help students play an active role in synthesizing those concepts together in the classroom.

Traditional vs. flipped learning: A quick summary

So what’s the big idea behind the flipped classroom? Alison King said it well: it’s all about shifting the role of the educator from “sage on the stage” to “guide on the side.” 

Here’s a quick comparison of the traditional vs. flipped classroom model:

Table comparing the traditional learning environment to that of a flipped classroom.

5 benefits of the flipped classroom for students

Group of students working on group project at a laptop

Flipped learning has become a bit of an instructional buzzword in the last decade, but the growth has come for good reason! This instructional methodology has loads of benefits for learners of all ages.

1. More active learning

In a traditional classroom environment where teachers are presenting information from the front, even the most interested students inevitably become passive observers. By replacing teacher talk time with learner-led active learning strategies, deeper learning is a guarantee.

2. More peer interaction

Peer interaction is at the heart of many flipped classroom activities. Group work gives students the opportunity to develop social-emotional learning (SEL) skills, and the instructor is there to help projects run smoothly and facilitate productive collaboration. 

Through peer review and peer-to-peer teaching, students are able to learn from each other as much as from the textbook or the teacher.

3. More real-time feedback

How many times have you sat through a great presentation — one that sparked several intriguing questions — only to run out of time to ask them? That’s what happens in so many traditional classrooms!

With limited time to get through a large amount of material, teachers aren’t able to speak to all students’ needs, especially those wrestling with more fundamental or complex questions. Flipping the classroom allows students to develop these questions on their own time and then use in-class hours for discussion and clarification.

4. More individualized learning

The flipped classroom approach is a natural support for differentiated learning. Why? Because students have much more flexibility to learn according to their own preferences and needs.

Especially when pre-class materials are delivered by video playlist, students can:

  • Self-pace their learning
  • Rewatch lecture videos as many times as needed for knowledge retention
  • Jump through course materials however they prefer
  • Pause lectures to do their own research or take notes
  • View video subtitles if they prefer text-based learning

5. More engaged students

…and we’re not just talking about student engagement in the traditional class period! When you use video as your primary means of at-home course content delivery, you’re working in a medium that students of all ages know and love. 

They’re already making short videos on TikTok, they’re already watching YouTube, they’re already scrolling through Instagram Reels — you’re just redirecting that energy toward high-quality educational content.

5 benefits of the flipped classroom for educators

Teacher with group of students working on math problems at digital whiteboard

So it’s clear that flipping the classroom can have some major benefits for the learners…but what about the educators? And, equally important for any instructional approach or edtech tool, what about the administrators? As it turns out, there’s plenty of goodness to go around when you flip the experience!

1. More meaningful time with students

When teachers aren’t spending all of their classroom time delivering lessons, they’re free to dedicate that time to more impactful interactions. These could be:

  • One-on-one student check-ins
  • Supervised group activities
  • Guided practice or application
  • Individualized real-time feedback sessions
  • Open Q&As with the class

Or…all of the above! The beauty of flipping a classroom is that teachers have the freedom to use the synchronous time however they need to.

2. More instructional flexibility

Traditional classroom instruction works best in a traditional classroom where everyone comes together in the same place at the same time. But what happens when you’ve got remote classes? Or hybrid/blended learning classes? Or fully asynchronous learning?

Fortunately, the flipped classroom works equally well for all. The same principles — introducing concepts independently via video and then collaborating together — even works when you’re engaging students 100% online

Just take the in-person class activities and adapt them to video conferencing (e.g. breakout zoom rooms), or use online tools like audience response systems to keep that sense of interaction going.

3. Easier for absentees

When core concepts are conveyed outside of the classroom, it’s easier for students to stay up to speed when they’re sick or otherwise absent. They can just watch the flipped classroom videos!

Same goes for absent teachers — a substitute no longer has to be responsible for delivering the lesson and can instead step in as that “guide on the side" for active learning.

4. Scales more easily than traditional lessons

For districts dealing with growing student populations, the flipped classroom model is a great way to maximize overstretched and always-limited resources.

Because course content is pre-recorded, the same instructional materials can be scaled to reach any number of learners. It’s no harder or more resource-heavy to teach a lesson to 100 students as it is to 10. Instructors can also share their video libraries with one another to reduce duplicate work!

5. Less educator burnout

With flipped classroom videos, lesson delivery is more streamlined, students are more actively engaged, higher-level skills are easier to assess, and there’s more flexibility built into increasingly packed curricula. All of which can in turn contribute to less teacher burnout — something administrators will certainly appreciate!

10 ideas for flipped classroom activities 

Teacher helping students work on computer projects in flipped classroom

Curious what it might look like to flip your classroom in practice? Here are 10 practical examples of flipped classroom activities for students of all ages. (Remember that students will have already watched relevant course material at home; now’s the time to synthesize, evaluate, and create!)

1. Group projects

Assign small groups ahead of time, giving each student a different video to watch before class. In class, each group member is then responsible for explaining their topic to the group and integrating it into the final group project — whether that’s a report, presentation, poster, video, etc.

2. Hands-on learning

From lab experiments to arts and crafts, help students “learn by doing.” Assign videos to prepare students for the in-class task, and then give them free rein to create!

For the most effective experiential learning, the focus should be on the process more than the end result. Encourage students to make mistakes (safely), question the process, and try out new methods.

3. Comprehension checks

Wondering whether students have watched the pre-class lecture or other materials? Start your in-class activities with a quick poll! Use an online audience response system so that students can answer in real time, giving you an instant gauge of comprehension. 

If you notice a certain topic needs reinforcement, ask a student to teach it to the class (an additional micro-flip!).

4. Peer review

No matter the subject area, constructive feedback is an important skill for students to develop. Have them watch videos at home on how to evaluate work and give feedback, and then use the in-class time to practice peer assessment in pairs or groups.

Is the class you're flipping fully asynchronous and remote? This can still work! Just use peer review tools that offer online options like student forums or time-stamped discussion threads.

5. Paired problem solving

After watching videos explaining a concept, divide students into pairs and give each student a different problem related to the course material. Have the students take turns solving their problems, explaining their thought process and logic to their partner.

As a reinforcement assignment, have each partner create their own problem for the other to solve!

6. Structured discussions

Have students watch the same video(s) before the in-class session and then use the class time to facilitate discussion in any form:

  • Role playing
  • Small group huddles
  • Open-floor discussions
  • Paired interviews
  • Fishbowl discussions
  • Debates

7. Independent work

Not all flipped classroom activities have to be done collaboratively. For a little quiet time, take the assignment you would have given for homework and give students time in class to work independently. 

To make this activity most effective, focus on higher-order tasks where students are actively processing and synthesizing ideas. Maybe they’re making concept maps, drawing a graphic, or creating their own assessment questions.

8. Learning stations

Set up three or four stations for students to rotate through, each focusing on a different category of Bloom’s taxonomy. 

For instance, maybe the first station simply allows students to re-watch one of their pre-class videos. Then the second station is a quick think-pair-share activity with a partner, and the third station is a “recording studio” where students can reflect on the material by recording some quick audio.

9. Teach the class

Flip classroom roles entirely by having students take turns being the teacher for a day! 

Give students different videos to watch before class, making each student responsible for a different aspect of the current course material. Then have students give a brief presentation live or allow them to showcase a recorded presentation instead.

10. Video creation

Videos aren’t just the primary tool for at-home content delivery in a flipped classroom — they’re perfect for a wide variety of in-class activities, too. For example, during class, you could have students:

  • Work in the computer lab to edit videos
  • Film creative footage at a green screen station
  • Outline and/or draft scripts for videos
  • Interview each other
  • Present their videos and answer class questions

5 common myths about the flipped classroom

Group of students using computer lab at school for flipped learning activities

Although flipped classrooms have become increasingly popular, there’s still a lot of mystery — and a fair number of misconceptions — surrounding this instructional approach. Here are a few common myths about flipped learning (and the truth behind them!).

Myth #1: Flipped classrooms are more work

Depending on how the flipped approach is implemented, there is a seed of truth to this myth. Transitioning from a traditional instructional strategy to a flipped classroom will involve a fair amount of upfront work. 

The good news, though, is that using the right edtech tools simplifies the process. And once the transition is done, running a flipped classroom can actually be less resource-heavy for educators — thanks to perks like auto-graded video assignments, LMS gradebook integrations, and the ability to repurpose video learning materials again and again. (All available with Playposit by WeVideo!)

Myth #2: Teachers have to create too much content

Again, this depends! Some teachers actually prefer to create all of their own instructional videos, while others would rather find relevant content on YouTube (and would classify any number of self-made videos as “too much”). 

The key is to empower both sets of educators to create or use content however they prefer. Playposit and WeVideo provide that flexibility, as educators can either create their own videos in our online video editor OR add interactivity to any video on the internet.

Myth #3: Students don’t have the right tech

It’s a reality that many students may not have access to a desktop computer at home — but this isn’t a reason to avoid flipping classrooms altogether. Again, it’s all about choosing a tool that works for everyone.

Good news there. From creating their own videos to answering interactive assessments, PlayPosit and WeVideo work on any device your students might have. PC, Mac, iOS, Android, even Chromebooks!

Myth #4: Teachers can’t monitor at-home learning

One common question about the flipped classroom method is this: How can teachers know whether students are watching the pre-class material if they aren’t there to supervise?

Well, there are two pretty foolproof ways:

  1. Create in-person activities that require a fundamental understanding of the pre-class materials in order to participate. (Bonus: Doing so ensures active learning!)
  2. Host your videos on a platform that provides learner analytics, showing you exactly who has watched what and how they’ve answered questions. 

Myth #5: Flipped learning requires too many tools

Nope! You just need one highly effective combination: WeVideo + PlayPosit

With this flipped learning dream team, educators can do everything they need to facilitate this highly effective instructional model — from creating their own videos to assembling asynchronous course playlists to embedding formative assessments into multimedia content. 

Students and administrators can join in, too, with benefits like learner-made video content and video-based professional development. Yes, interactive video forms the heart of the flipped classroom, but it does so much more.