The development of technology has also brought about a change in students’ learning habits. Besides exploiting the new opportunities offered by technology in the classroom, a new methodological approach has also become necessary. Teachers’ role should be revised – we must accept that they are not the single source of knowledge that they used to be, but their role supporting the learning process is still indispensible.
Flipped Learning in VET
One obvious option for the new educational approach is the method of flipped classroom. That is what the Erasmus+ project ‘Flip-IT!’, launched in 2015, focuses on; the project seeks to integrate the method into the teaching practice of VET institutions in the five partner countries (the UK, Ireland, Spain, the Czech Republic and Hungary). We interviewed Anita Téringer from iTStudy Hungary Ltd. about the experiences gained in Hungary and the plans for the future.
How would you briefly summarise the method of flipped classroom?
It’s a new learning organisation method, mainly characterised by a student-centred approach and active learning. Before the lesson which introduces new information, the teacher makes available to his or her students contents which inspire them and capture their attention, ones that they can process at home, at their own pace, in order to come to the classroom in possession of the new information and their questions formulated. It can be a video shot by the teacher, electronic educational materials, or consciously selected free educational resource materials (Open Educational Resource-OER). The method helps teachers motivate students, better customise teaching, it supports the improvement of 21st-century skills, and what is crucial, it also encourages students to assume an active role in the learning process and take greater responsibility for their own learning outcomes.
In order to dispel a common misunderstanding, we should mention that the videos or other digital resource materials distributed before the class should definitely not be considered homework in the traditional sense. Basically, it’s about exchanging the processes going on in the individual and group learning space. The first contact with new concepts is moved to the individual learning space, and then, in the group learning space, the classroom, the focus is on team work, project work and practical application, with much more interaction, compared to the frontal introduction of the new material.
How could students and teachers benefit from this method?
Students can learn in their own environment and at their own individual pace, as they can look at the material given to them any time they feel it’s necessary, while taking notes and formulating their questions. One of the benefits for teachers is that the digital curriculum is a great tool of motivation among the members of the net generation. The material prepared is reusable, and the students who miss a class can also catch up more easily. The teacher has more opportunities to process the curriculum in an active, practice-oriented manner, as well as to differentiate in the classroom.
Certainly, some difficulties may arise when introducing the method. What can they be and how can you manage them?
The most common difficulty is that there will always be one or two students who come to the class without having even looked at the pre-distributed digital contents. That’s when the so-called ‘in-flip method’ can be applied: any student who failed to do so at home can watch the video with headphones on (that is, in an individual learning space) or read the material in the classroom. Of course, they will thus have less time for interactive classroom work, but we hope it will motivate them to prepare for the classroom next time just like the others.
|67% of the 453 teachers participating in a survey conducted by the American "Flipped Learning Network" reported improving test result, and 99% said they wished to continue using the method (Goodwin - Miller, 2013).|
What can give this method an especially significant role in VET?
Although in Hungary we’ve mostly seen the method applied in higher education, we think it’s exactly the field of vocational education and training where this reverse education could bring great benefits. It's almost impossible to keep up with technological advances using traditional text books. If the school wants to meet labour market requirements, it needs to take any opportunity to be able to prepare its students for applying the latest technological solutions introduced in each vocation. “Reverse teaching” can be of great help in that, if coupled by using modern ICT tools. Although the novelty of the method is not rooted in technology, but in the radically new pedagogical approach, we should also add that its widespread application is greatly attributable to the fact that today a mobile phone is sufficient to make a replayable, analysable video of a work process in a car repair shop. Moreover, it’s not only the teacher or instructor who can make the recording, but also the students studying a particular vocation, or even the teacher and the student together. The shift towards active classroom work supports the development of the very competences demanded by the labour market, such as communication, team work, critical thinking and creativity. The classroom is characterised by experimenting and discussion, and students learn from their peers while solving realistic problems in cooperation with each other. Meanwhile, digital competences naturally improve with the regular use of various ICT tools through which the materials are made available to students before the classes.
What are the experiences about the current online course?
The popularity of online education confirms what I said about the potential use in VET. The course was preceded by a multiplication event, to which we’d originally planned to invite 40 participants. It was a huge surprise, even for us, that over 100 teachers registered for the conference and 130 for the course, most of them engaged in VET, from all around the country. To our great pleasure, the participants were very motivated and enthusiastic, and they actively share their experiences with each other through the online forum.
How would you encourage teachers who are reluctant to use technological tools?
The experience shows that, although the preparation of the first digital curriculum is indeed time-consuming, teachers find the time spent on it useful, and they begin the next one – which requires significantly less time – with great enthusiasm. It’s also important that these materials can be shared, later reused, so the initial investment will surely pay off in the long term, and students' motivation, active participation and positive feedback will confirm that it was worth accepting the challenge.
You should definitely start with small steps, and the sense of achievement will be guaranteed. Students are very happy when the teacher comes up with something new and they can see that he or she is learning, too.
How do you plan to go on after closing the project?
We will publish the course content with added case studies as a freely available e-book. Besides, our online training will also be available as an accredited course to anyone with a teacher's degree. Depending on the authors’ consent, we plan to upload the videos and other digital curriculum elements into a resource library, which we hope will constantly grow and provide resource materials to the classes of many teacher colleagues.
Ilona Jakabné Baján
Tempus Public Foundation / Erasmus+ partnerships
Last modified: 19-06-2019