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by Lisa O

By now, you've probably heard about “flipped classrooms” or “flipping the classroom”. In the past teachers often stood at the front of the classroom and taught in a didactic/ lecturing style to students who sat and absorbed the content. The students then worked –often creatively and collaboratively to put the absorbed content into practical application through “home work”, projects and assignments - away from the classroom.

The “flipped” approach posits that teachers have a much greater value to their students than simply “stand and deliver” broadcasters of content. In a flipped approach, teachers re-imagine how they can best impact on student learning and the sitting and listening is done at home – or at any rate, not in class time. This teachers record themselves via video/ podcast etc.  and deliver the content that students can absorb at home. Organisations like Khan Academy, Ted-ed and others are also used to supplement and complement the teachers’ own content. Teachers can craft units using a broad and diverse set of experts to “lecture” to their students.

If the students are absorbing the lecture content in the evening at home, then the classroom experience can become a very exciting, creative, collaborative one where the teacher’s expertise in facilitating learning can be more interactive, inspiring and more supportive through activities designed to take last night’s learning and springboard into the construction of deep new knowledge. It also means that there is opportunity to work more closely with students who might be struggling with an area of content. This approach lends itself nicely to differentiation, particularly in schools that use team teaching.

It is unclear how this concept is going to develop and it is likely that there will be a wide spectrum of uptake, from teachers who totally reject the idea through to those who shift their practice significantly. I imagine that a lot of excellent teachers will investigate the ideas, try the concept out in some way and incorporate some “flipping” into their practice as appropriate and as they perceive best benefits their learners.

So – where does the school library come in to the Flipped construct?

One obvious place is the provision of good broadband and decent computers so that students who have neither at home can still watch the videos. Another is to work with others to build and/or make accessible the library of locally produced content (video/audio/etc) for your school. For the increasing number of NZ School’s who have the video creation suite in the library you can facilitate your teachers’ creation of video content.

What about “library content”? Maybe video or maybe, voice thread or another tool – but there is plenty of “library lesson content” that we deliver over and over.

  • When and how to use EPIC
  • How to choose which CC license to apply to your work
  • How to evaluate a source (website, book, etc) for authority
  • How to set up an inquiry so that it leads to deep learning and the construction of knowledge

There is of course much more but, what if our students could access all these “just in time” lessons 24/7 through our library website?

Flipping the library, like flipping the classroom, is not about making wholesale changes immediately to everything we do, but rather considering a new paradigm and reflecting on what our greatest value to our students might be. Like going to self issuing of books, we can do a bit of work up front so that our learners can “self serve” in some areas. This then allows us to have greater, deeper learning interactions with students that create even more impact!

Go on, Do a flip!

Then tell us about it! We’d all like to read about NZ school libraries that are adopting some aspect of this flipping concept.

Further Reading