Flipped classrooms and flipped learning approaches are fast becoming a popular practice in mathematics classrooms, providing opportunities for students to learn anywhere, at any time. A flipped pedagogical approach may go some way in addressing the continuing issue of student disengagement with mathematics, yet how do we know if it really works? And what are the advantages and disadvantages to flipped approaches? In this blog post I provide a brief explanation of flipped learning before sharing some of the lessons I’ve learned about the flipped approach from my research into the effective use of technology in mathematics classrooms.

First, let’s
consider how flipped learning works. There are various approaches that range
from the provision of direct instruction via the use of video recorded
lectures, to those that allow teachers to individualise learning according to
student needs. The fundamental reason flipped learning approaches evolved was
to take advantage of new technologies that allow for the introduction of new
knowledge via multi-media and shift passive learning (via direct instruction) to
allow teachers and students to make better use of classroom time. Pre-lesson
materials can take the form of prescribed readings, teacher-produced videos, screencasts
that may incorporate resources created on software such as *GeoGebra*, videos sourced from Youtube, or resources created by
others such as *Khan Academy.* Face to face lessons can then be freed up
for more teacher/student and student/student interaction, collaboration, application
of learning through problem solving and investigation, and opportunities to
provide intervention where necessary (Bhagat, Chang,
& Chang, 2016; Lo & Hew, 2017; Weinhandl, Lavicza, & Süss-Stepancik,
2018).

**Lessons from research**

Through my
various technology-related research projects I have seen a variety of models of
flipped approaches from primary through to senior secondary classrooms. **The
most important lesson** I’ve learned is, just like any other teaching
resource, a flipped learning approach is only as good as the person driving it:
the teacher. It’s the teacher and his or her understanding of student needs, along
with the ability to address those needs, that can determine the effectiveness
of any flipped approach. For example, in research I conducted approximately five
years ago, a Year 3 teacher tried a flipped approach. Unfortunately, not all of
the students understood the content that was covered in the pre-lesson videos,
and the flipped approach failed. This leads me to **lesson two**: A one-size-fits-all
approach very rarely works in the classroom and is even more precarious in a
flipped approach where young students don’t have access to the teacher to seek
clarification.

In the five
years since that research project, the emergence of new technologies and
software has meant that flipped learning in the mathematics classroom has evolved
and become much more sophisticated. Apps such as *SeeSaw *provide different
flipped learning opportunities that allow multi-directional communication
between home and school, as well as the sharing of work samples. * *Productivity packages such as *OneNote *and learning management systems such as *Canvas *or *Echo *allow for multimedia to be used rather than the simple use of video. Programs
such as *Matific *and *Prodigy *allow teachers to
allocate different levels of activity to different students and track student achievement.These
applications have made it easier than ever to differentiate learning, view
student progress, and collate assessment data, which leads me to **lesson
three**: flipped learning is hard work for the teacher.

A successful flipped learning approach requires the teacher to be
vigilant beyond the timetabled mathematics lesson. If students are accessing
and responding to resources anywhere and anytime, this requires a substantial
commitment on the part of the teacher. Similarly, if students are not accessing
the set tasks in preparation for their lessons, the teacher must also be aware
and adjust lessons accordingly. The issue of students failing to access material
prior to lessons is a common one and was observed in my most recent research. It
is important to carefully consider the students and their contexts beyond the mathematics
classroom. **The fourth lesson**,
therefore, is to beware of assumptions about access. Not all students will have
access to devices or internet. Sometimes a flipped approach may result in
exclusion, depending on socioeconomic circumstances or location. For example,
in one of the schools involved in my research, there were connectivity issues
due to the location.

The **final
lesson **I’d like to share about flipped learning is perhaps the most
important. It *can* help students, particularly those who are disengaged
with mathematics. The teachers who use flipped learning effectively in my most
recent research were able redefine mathematics learning spaces for their
students. The flipped approach promoted self-confidence, built strong
connections between teachers and students, and provided ‘just in time’ learning
and support, and self-paced learning without the stigma usually associated with
students who feel they just can’t do mathematics.

There is emerging evidence that a flipped learning approach in mathematics is achieving success in relation to increasing student engagement due to the increased autonomy that allows students more access to learning resources. However, the majority of research on flipped learning focuses on tertiary and secondary education, with little attention paid to the primary classroom. There is also a need to explore more deeply how and why flipped learning approaches improve student engagement, if we are to take advantage of the affordances of emerging technologies to enhance students’ learning experiences and ultimately improve outcomes and attrition in higher level mathematics. In my upcoming blog posts I will provide further detail about the different models of flipped learning I observed, and how they influenced student engagement and learning.

**References**

Bhagat,
K. K., Chang, C.-N., & Chang, C.-Y. (2016). The Impact of the Flipped
Classroom on Mathematics Concept Learning in High School. *Journal of
Educational Technology & Society*, *19*(3), 134–142.

Lo,
C. K., & Hew, K. F. (2017). A critical review of flipped classroom
challenges in K-12 education: possible solutions and recommendations for future
research. *Research and Practice in Technology Enhanced Learning*, *12*(1),
4. https://doi.org/10.1186/s41039-016-0044-2

Weinhandl,
R., Lavicza, Z., & Süss-Stepancik, E. (2018). Technology-enhanced Flipped
Mathematics Education in Secondary Schools: A Synopsis of Theory and Practice. *K-12
STEM Education*, *4*(3), 377–389. https://doi.org/10.14456/k12stemed.2018.9