A Future of Flipped Learning

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There’s a lot of noise in the industry about Flipped Learning and some of the most popular sessions at our events around the world focus on this educational methodology. A system originally devised in 2000, flipped learning seeks to empower students with a more interactive approach to their studies – an education system much more suited to a generation raised by technology who are looking to impress in an ever more demanding job market.  Learner-centric study is central to our ethos at Blackboard and so it is no surprise that we are fast becoming the go-to source for guidance in this approach, helping institutions such as MEF University in Istanbul to realise their vision of using Flipped Learning across the curriculum.

So what is Flipped Learning and how can it benefit students, staff and employers?  In short, it flips the traditional method of students taking on information in the classroom, then doing homework and revision at home. Students participate in activities set by their teacher in preparation for class.  The meeting of students and teacher then becomes a time to investigate, debate and explore.  The teacher can use their imagination and know-how to set up activities to orchestrate the students’ learning.  These could be watching online videos, participating in online forums, or researching around a topic – all which the student can access on any device at any time.  Instead of lecturing, the educator becomes facilitator, offering support and giving feedback.   The additional ability to log on to student forums before a class enables teachers to see what concepts are understood by the students and which need honing, come lesson time.  

This is why Blackboard was the perfect fit to help MEF University achieve their goal of becoming the first and only English language preparation programme in Turkey and the first higher education institution in the world to implement Flipped Learning across all undergraduate courses. The first academic year of 2014-15 was crucial for the college and so they were looking for a secure and reliable system. Furthermore, they needed a system with the facility to input and track learning outcomes and an interface which was user friendly for both students and instructors.  

The American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, Edge Hill University in the UK and the University of Edinburgh are other examples of higher education institutes that deliver academic development programmes through a flipped model. Implementing flipped classroom best practice, many believe that this approach allows participants to explore topics together in ways that they couldn’t do with traditional teaching.

So, how long until Flipped Learning is standard in all higher education modules? This kind of set up is not without its challenges. This is a completely different approach to learning that has to be embraced by staff and students to succeed. It is not a one size fits all and, as students progress at different speeds, some may struggle with managing their own learning workload and teachers will need to motivate and innovate constantly in order to keep their classes hungry to learn.

However, the benefits are impressive. Students feel engaged and empowered in their study and get to grips with abstract and complex subjects successfully with this approach.  The proof of this education innovation’s value cannot be ignored.  As a totally Flipped Learning institution, MEF has come third out of seventy-two universities in Turkey for student fill rate and is in the top ten per cent for student quality. The institute’s ultimate vision is “to educate innovative and entrepreneurial global leaders to shape the next 100 years” and Blackboard intends to carry on supporting and nurturing this vision worldwide so that Flipped Learning could always deliver its promises of a rich and engaging learning experience.