What’s the flipping point?
Kathie Orr, Adult Basic Education Service
Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board, Ireland
To flip or not to flip – that’s the question tutors participating in the Erasmus KA2 Flip-IDEAL project are asking.
What does the research say? What do teachers say? And most importantly (for they will be on the receiving end of it) what do our learners say about flipped learning?
It’s the end of 2019 and we have just completed the information gathering stage of our project – the compilation of a literature review and the holding of teacher and learner focus groups.
An initial perusal produces a deafening silence on the published research front about flipped learning in adult basic skills education.
Some teachers and learners politely enquire ‘What’s that then?’ when we mention our new topic over the coffee break.
It’s not an auspicious start.
But once we dig deeper there’s a wealth of inspiring information on flipped learning in other contexts from which to gain insight and draw parallels. And no – our research is not merely limited to English language publications. Thankfully the project is not solely reliant on the linguistic skills of yours truly.
The beauty of the Flip-IDEAL project is that we have the good fortune to benefit from colleagues who can sift through research in languages other than English (!!) to enable us all to produce a literature review with a uniquely transnational take on current pedagogical theory and practice of flipped learning.
As for the focus groups: almost 170 teachers and learners from across six countries enthusiastically give their time to share their teaching and learning experiences. They represent many different nationalities, cultural backgrounds and educational journeys, which provides a great breadth of knowledge and many (sometimes opposing) points of view.
Some teachers and learners are already flipping the classroom and their response to it is overwhelmingly positive. Others are not yet using these techniques but can see the potential of flipped learning as an effective learning strategy. A few remain to be convinced.
As different as our countries, cultures and educational backgrounds may be, a common theme emerges from the groups of a desire to teach and learn in a respectful, supportive, collegial atmosphere.
And so, we arrive at the end of June 2019 putting the finishing touches to a publication shaped by many perspectives and voices. Teachers and learners in our area of adult education need and indeed deserve to benefit from innovative teaching techniques and up to date digital tools.
Flipped learning incorporates both and as the American educator Sal Khan says, although technology is often accused of separating people, flipping the classroom uses technology to humanise the classroom as it frees class time for active learning and for teachers and learners to engage with one another.
For more information on the Flip-IDEAL Project visit https://www.flipideal.org/