'Flipped Classrooms' Spreading in Wisconsin

Tim Goral's picture

On a typical school night, while most chemistry students are solving homework problems, Verona High School junior Alison Ford is watching her teacher lecture on her iPod Touch.

The next day in class she huddles with two classmates to work on equilibrium equations based on the recorded lecture while her teacher moves between groups of students to answer questions about the assignment.

"It's a lot nicer because instead of tying up class time trying to explain everything, it really allows you to learn at your own pace," Ford said.

Welcome to the "flipped classroom," a learning model that is going viral across Wisconsin and the nation, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. It's being employed not only in local elementary and high schools, but also at Madison Area Technical College, UW-Madison and even the Madison Fire Department.

The method is appealing for several reasons: it employs high-tech gadgets and online social networking popular among young people; students can pause and review parts of lectures they don't understand without stopping an entire class; and teachers can spend more classroom time on individualized instruction.

It also has some limitations, such as ensuring that low-income students have access to computers and the Internet. Some students accustomed to completing homework assignments without learning the material might resist. And the process of creating original videos can be time-consuming for teachers at first, but once created they can be reused and added to a growing online library of educational materials that teachers can share for free on websites such as YouTube.

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