In the world of modern education, modern technology has enabled a number of new learning modalities, including both blended learning and flipped classroom structures. Each of these integrates both online learning and classroom learning, but flipped classroom structures are just one type of blended learning.

  • Blended learning combines both online teaching and instruction and classroom-based instruction. This can take a number of forms. Flipped classrooms are one type of blended learning; however, blended learning could use real-time discussions to supplement classroom time, use video conferences to take the place of some classroom time, or supplement classroom lectures with online learning, like lecture captures.
  • Flipped classrooms are a type of blended learning that takes the traditional lecture online. This provides ample classroom time for other activities, like discussion, hands-on learning, and individual and small-group work. The lesson or lecture portion of the classroom experience occurs predominantly online, while the homework portion of the course is more likely to take place in a group classroom setting.

When Is Blended Learning Best?

Blended learning is a flexible option for any college or university with access to lecture capture and video content management tools. Instructors can incorporate as much or as little online learning as they would like into a traditional course. At its most minimal, blended learning might enable students to review lecture capture recordings and ask questions online, while a more intensively blended course might integrate some elements of flipped classroom structures.

Blended learning provides instructors and students with an ideal transition to flipped classrooms, but can also enable traditional classrooms to make use of new tools and technology. This, in particular, facilitates learning for students with special needs, non-traditional students, and others who need extra support. 

 

When Should Instructors Flip their Classes?

A flipped classroom provides students with increased interaction with one another and with an instructor. This can enable improved understanding and engagement for students, as well as improved attendance. Instructors in flipped classrooms can use their in-class time to efficiently meet the needs of their students, to focus on project-based learning, to encourage small and larger group interaction, and to respond to student questions and assist with assignments. 

In addition to providing instructors and students with more in-class time for engagement and discussion, for many instructors, a flipped classroom also means efficient teaching from year-to-year. Lecture recordings can be re-used from semester-to-semester, simplifying instructor preparation for the course. 

 

Starting Early with Blended Learning and Flipped Classrooms

While many people automatically think of colleges and universities, blended learning and flipped classrooms are becoming increasingly popular in K-12 schools. As more schools embrace online learning tools, some even providing students with take-home computers, teachers can expand their options beyond old-school worksheets, and can integrate both blended learning and true flipped classrooms into their everyday lesson plans.