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Blended learning vs flipped classroom – What’s the difference?

Oct 5, 2017


Over the years, the vast development of video technologies has seen an incremental rise in new e-learning practices across all levels of the education spectrum. While there are tons of new e-learning models being tried around the globe, only two have seemingly managed to gain as much media attention and traction in the education industry.

What is the flipped classroom?

The flipped classroom is just one of the latest e-learning models which has made its way into classrooms around the world. The pedagogical model sets out to reverse the role of teaching with homework, whereby students would typically digest new educational content outside of their classroom. Teachers would then use their classroom sessions to allow students to apply the information learned, through a series of practical assignments.

The flipped classroom, also known as flipped learning, was introduced by Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams back in 2007 and has seen an alluring adoption rate by teachers and institutions alike. The flipped classroom was pioneered to represent a new modern educational system, that focuses on how to get the best out of students by adhering to their social habits.

What is blended learning?

Blended learning, on the other hand, involves both online learning as well as in a brick-and-mortar location. In a blended learning classroom, both online and traditional teaching methods are utilized to provide a more effective learning experience for the students. Teachers would typically employ online learning components such as educational videos, games, online learning material and podcasts.

Unlike in a flipped classroom, the online material does not replace any face-to-face teaching, but rather is used as additional support. For example, a teacher might instruct their students to watch an additional video lesson or engage in a podcast to broaden their understanding of the topic. Blended learning is designed to have the two modalities, online and traditional, compliment each other.

How to create a successful blended learning strategy

Teachers and institutions have praised blended learning for its role in implementing a synchronous learning strategy while allowing students to learn at their own pace through online techniques that form part of an asynchronous learning strategy. However, as many teachers have experienced, simply combining two complex components is not always going to give you the desired results that you are after. Instead, a comprehensive blended strategy needs to be devised and implemented. Below are five key features that will help any educator successfully introduce blended learning into their classroom.

1. Identify the blended learning classroom objectives

One of the core features of any form of effective learning is having the aims and objectives clearly defined before diving into any practical part. The success factor of any blended learning strategy is detrimental to your ability to plan ahead. Ask yourself: what skills do I want my students to acquire? How can a blended learning classroom help to achieve the acquisition of these skills? What topics will the syllabus cover? Are there any learning tools or effective learning models that can contribute to delivering the educational content? Think of your objectives as your learning blueprint. It will help guide you through the course and make sure you stick to your carefully constructed plan.

2. Create a blended learning syllabus

The next step is to expand on your blended learning syllabus. When creating your course outline look beyond your selected topics. Identify the learning objectives from each topic, the form of assessment in place, the type of educational content to be utilized, as well as the deadlines and requirements that you expect your students to meet. 

3. Determine the online vs traditional learning balance 

In any blended learning classroom, you need to identify the balance between e-learning practices and traditional learning. It’s important that any educator looking to implement the blended learning approach in their classroom determines the balance beforehand, as it’s likely going to dictate the general direction of your classroom sessions and overall syllabus.  As a general tip, break your syllabus down into topics. In each topic determine how the educational content will be efficiently delivered, and whether your students should explore it further through synchronous or asynchronous activities.

4. Compile an elaborate resource list 

One of the main reasons that the blended learning approach has grown in popularity is due to the abundance of supplemental resources available to the students. Where some students may struggle to cope with a certain subject, provide extensive articles or external sites for them to read in their own time to further grasp the subject. For students who have excelled, provide more informative resources to expand their knowledge.  

5. Develop an effective assessment plan 

The blended learning approach should continuously adapt based on your gathered feedback. Conduct surveys and interviews to understand how your students are progressing.  

How to create a successful flipped classroom strategy 

Flipping the classroom requires the use of web-enabled strategies which free up class time to allow teachers to spend more time guiding their students rather than lecturing them. Like with the balanced learning approach, the flipped classroom is a model that has been adapted accordingly to meet the teacher’s requirements and the student’s needs. While there isn’t one standard process to successfully flipping the classroom, most educators tend to follow a series of 5 steps. 

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1. Define your scope and objectives

The first step for any educator looking to flip the classroom successfully is to have a well-defined scope. Collect all the educational content that you have for that semester and start breaking it down into relevant sub-topics. Your sub topics will essentially transform into your video lessons. Every lesson plan should be followed by some form of assignment to make sure that the students have actually understood the educational content

2. Create your educational content 

Unlike in a blended learning classroom, the flipped classroom requires some sort of educational content to be created and distributed for the students to learn away from the classroom.

3. Construct in-class activities that spark pre-class engagement

After your students have watched the educational material, you need to ensure that they understand it. A good way of stimulating further learning around each topic is to have a set of tasks at the end of each video lesson. This can take the form of puzzles, questions, summaries or further research.  

4.  Prepare in-class activities for students to apply their knowledge

In a flipped classroom, it’s not enough for your students to be familiar with the provided educational content, they need to know how to apply it. Dedicate the first 10 minutes re-caping the content shown in the previous video lesson, then focus on engaging your students with an active learning strategy. Debates, group assignments, and individual projects are just a few of the activities that you can use.

5. Ongoing evaluation 

The end goal is to have your students progress, as a direct result of the introduction of the flipped classroom model. Have both summative and formative assessments in place throughout the year to track your student’s academic progress. 

Blended learning vs flipped classroom: Which one should you choose?

Both e-learning models have been credited as the main driving force of student progress in recent years, but that doesn’t mean both are right for your classroom. Choosing between Blended learning vs. flipped classroom depends on the overall outcomes of your class. Teachers looking to shift their classroom, with an overall focus on applying theory of knowledge with the full use of technology would generally benefit more from a flipped classroom. On the contrary, a teacher wanting to provide additional support and adhere to Millennials habits would benefit more from blended learning. Simply put, if you want to extend the learning that takes place in your classroom, go for blended learning, and if you want to make more time for practical learning, flip your classroom!

If you are looking to flip your classroom, but don’t exactly know how to start, you may want to start by blending your classroom. Already blended your classroom, and now you want to flip it? Here’s how Moovly can help.

Moovly is a comprehensive content creation platform, ideal for teachers looking to use video in education and engage their students. Use Moovly to create engaging educational videos that not only captivate your students but will engage them. What’s even better for teachers, is that with Moovly, no real design skill is needed. Our easy-to-use drag and drop interface will have you creating educational videos in no time!

Now that you know the difference between a flipped classroom and blended learning, you’ll need to decide the direction you want your classroom to take. If you want to learn more about how you can flip your classroom today, contact Moovly!  

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