Most of us are familiar with the traditional classroom. You and your classmates file into a room, take your seats, and proceed to take notes on a lecture that your teacher has planned for you. At the end of class, the teacher often assigns homework, usually in the form of reading or questions. The following day, you turn in your homework and hope that you absorbed enough of the information to follow the day’s lecture and do well on the inevitable test.
But what if there was another way? What if the order of instruction and learning were reversed?
Flipping the Classroom
What if you started the day’s lesson at home the night before? You just switch on your computer and watch a few short videos. Your teacher might select existing online videos or create them himself. You are able to pause and rewind the video whenever you need to review something that you didn’t quite get the first time. You are also able to take notes at your own pace and formulate questions about subject points that might need further explanation.
Moreover, what if the videos came with a brief online quiz? A quiz that helps determine whether or not you missed any salient points. There may even be a forum that allows you to discuss the lesson with your peers. If this were the case, the teacher would be able to make time the next day to answer your questions and offer exercises, projects, or discussions designed to elaborate upon and master the content presented in the online video.
This model of teaching and learning is called the flipped classroom. Students watch lectures at home, at their own pace, and do what might otherwise be homework in class with the teacher’s guidance. Home lectures give students more time to reflect upon what is being said; something that may be hard to do when taking notes during a regular class. The flipped classroom model also repurposes class time into a workshop where students can inquire about lecture content, test their skills in applying knowledge and interact with one another in hands-on activities.
The flipped classroom shifts the priority from merely covering content to working towards a mastery of it. “When kids show up to class they don’t come to learn new stuff, they show up to apply the things they learned at home and to ask me questions about the things they learned at home,” explains Aaron Adams, a science teacher who flipped his science class at Woodland Park High School in Colorado. This gave Adams time to correct any misconceptions and tend to the individual learning needs of the students in his class. The goal says Adams, is to “help students become learners who can learn for themselves and by themselves.”
Flipping the Welding Classroom
The flipped classroom can work particularly well with welding instruction. For example, students can watch a video on a particular welding process at home. The video can explain anything from the functions of the process to the equipment used to execute it. This ensures that they are familiar with the machinery and ready to ask questions regarding its use the very next day.
In another scenario, students are asked to go home and watch an online video presentation about the concept of volume. When they return to class they are given the opportunity to apply and master that knowledge working out problems designed to find the volume of a fillet weld.
Perhaps the most important benefit of the flipped welding classroom is increased in-class weld time. If the welding instructor can deliver his lecture via an online video presentation that students watch at home, he will be able to offer his students more arc time during class.
Teacher and Student Preparation
The internet contains a wealth of sites and videos about the flipped classroom and how to create your own. Just remember that that an effective flip requires careful preparation. A lot of time and effort goes into creating or selecting online video presentations and aligning them with in-class discussions and activities. Students must have access to a computer that supports the rapid delivery of online video. Moreover, they must be motivated to watch the assigned online presentations on a regular basis. The flipped classroom allows students to experiment with and master a given subject, but it also puts more of the responsibility of learning on their shoulders.
AWO Can Help
American Welding Online offers free video podcasts on a variety of technological developments that can be used to supplement advanced welding courses. AWO also has a series of online courses that can serve as the backbone of basic welding courses and classes designed to prepare students for the CWI or CWS exams. Check out the American Welding Online course page to learn more.