Smarter Schooling

What Is Flipped Learning and How Does It Work at MVA?

Nov 4, 2022
3 min
Flipped Learning has long been recognised by scientists and academics as "the future of education", but it's not until recently that it's full potential has been realised. Why is this, how does it differ to traditional teaching methods, and how does it work at MVA?

"Flipped Learning", as a concept, is nothing new. Anyone who’s attended university or college will be familiar with the basic idea of being asked to do preparatory work before class. But this is usually less common in schools, where the emphasis is on "homework" rather than being "prepared".

What you’ll find here is a simple, brief rundown of what Flipped Learning is, how it works in practice, what it looks like at our pioneering Online School, and what its advantages are.

If you’re a parent looking to figure out the benefits of Flipped Learning for your child, a student seeking to take your education somewhere new and practical, or anyone who’s looking to re-invigorate their teaching and learning styles for business or leisure reasons, then read on.

What is Flipped Learning?

In short, Flipped Learning means engaging in interactive self-study outside of class, then using class time to do activities and participate in discussion. Most of a student’s core learning happens before their lesson, through video lectures or interactive guides. In class, teachers are able to check and consolidate what a student has already learned, but they also have more time to develop a student’s interests and help them work collaboratively and apply their learning to practical or real-world issues. 

The teacher of a ‘flipped classroom’ becomes more of a guide than a gatekeeper of knowledge. They are there to provoke, problem-solve and put theoretical knowledge into practice.

How is Flipped Learning Different from Previous Teaching Styles?

Traditionally, teachers have held all the cards: students attend lessons to both discover and practice subject matter they encounter firstly - and foremost - via their teachers.

This educational model has existed since the Victorian era, and has dominated schooling ever since. 

The traditional teacher stands at the front of the classroom, the blackboard as their visual aid, introducing students to concepts, ideas, formulas and philosophies. 

The flipped classroom sees the teacher free to explore questions and problems that have arisen from a student's prior encounter with a subject. The flipped learning teacher creates a lesson that develops and consolidates the students’ learning through interesting, provocative and challenging activities and exercises.

Traditional teachers instruct and inform; flipped learning teachers guide, expand and consolidate.

One of the biggest differences is that Flipped Learning reverses the traditional model of lectures-followed-by-homework. In Flipped Learning, students watch lectures at home and then do their homework in class. This allows for a more interactive learning experience in class, as students are able to ask questions and get help from their teachers. 

A final difference is that Flipped Learning is more student-centred than previous teaching styles. In a traditional classroom, the teacher is the centre of attention and the students are passive learners. In a Flipped Learning classroom, the students are the centre of attention and the teachers are more like facilitators. This allows students to take more responsibility for their learning, whilst letting them learn at their own pace. 

Why Does Flipped Learning Matter?

Flipped Learning allows for a more individualised and customised form of education, as students can learn at their own pace, rewinding or pausing lectures as needed and doing the key reading at times and speeds that suit them.

It thus allows for more time in class to be spent on hands-on activities, which research has shown to be more effective for long-term learning.

Flipped Learning is more flexible than traditional teaching styles: because students are watching lectures or reading at home, they can do it at a time that suits them. This means that if a student has a busy schedule, they can still fit their learning into it.

Done correctly, research suggests that the student who takes charge of their own learning, and is challenged to respond emotionally to this learning in the follow-up lesson, will perform better than their Victorian-modelled counterparts. They will also expand their general cognitive abilities – researching, close-reading, independent learning – in order to be able to grasp greater challenges later on in life.

Finally, Flipped Learning matters a lot for the teachers, too. If a student thinks it’s boring and de-powering to feel someone is simply going through the mechanics of what they already know with you, something they’ve taught a thousand times before in this exact way, then think of what it must be like for the teacher!

With Flipped Learning, teachers themselves are less stale, tired and bored. They are re-thinking and re-framing key tenets in specific, individually-tailored lessons, responding to particular students’ thinking and feeling. This leads to a reduction of overall ‘burn-out’ in the teaching industry: something that’s a very real issue in the contemporary traditional education scene.

What Are The Key Advantages of Flipped Learning?

  • Invites students to become passionately independent learners, encouraging them to take responsibility of their own learning from a young age
  • Teaches students the value of being prepared
  • Encourages students to enter each lesson as active participants
  • Parents are able to have greater involvement, and can often discover new topics alongside their children, rather than just supervising homework
  • Reduces marking and homework for teachers, allowing them to focus on better lesson plans
  • Higher memory retention as each topic is actively encountered at least twice

How Does Flipped Learning Work at Minerva’s Virtual Academy?

The practice of ‘self-study’ sits at the core of Minerva’s virtual learning culture. 

We invite all our students to embrace the challenge of Flipped Learning: to discover in the individual learning space, and then to consolidate, discuss, and practise in the group learning space (aka live lessons).

Along with their fellow students and their teacher – who now acts more as a guide and collaborator – a student can explore the practical aspects of their foundational knowledge, and be tested, provoked and steered in order to enrich their own learning. 

In a departure from traditional schooling, our pupils enter the Virtual Learning Platform to familiarise themselves with topics before they head into Live Lessons with their teachers. Not only does this encourage pupils to take ownership of their learning and foster an inquisitive mindset but teachers have more time to deepen and enrich their pupils' learning in classes where they would previously have been dictating the topics from scratch. 

As is then the case with many students who are keen to get ahead, teachers are able to provide additional stimulus and prompts for further study after they have already mastered the basics on their own. 

In practice, it works like this:

  1. Students log in to our bespoke, cutting-edge Virtual Learning Platform
  2. They work through an academic module (e.g. The Causes of the Second World War) on their own, discovering the new topics for themselves in an engaging, interactive way
  3. Students are tested on what they have learned – and our smart platform will only let them progress if they can prove they have understood the topics. At this stage, pupils may email their teachers or mentors if they are stuck.
  4. After the module is completed, the students have a live lesson with their teacher to discuss the topic together and corroborate or deepen their knowledge. Regarding the example above, the teacher might then read out some of Churchill’s private diaries in order to explore other, real-life dimensions of the broader historical context. This brings the facts to life, whilst giving everyone a chance to consolidate and ask further questions.

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