Thomas Mennella, Bay Path University – Flipped Learning

There may be a better way to use class time.

Thomas Mennella, associate professor of biology at Bay Path University, discusses flipped learning.

Tom Mennella has a research background in molecular genetics, specifically focusing on the regulation of transcription in eukaryotic cells. His training began as a graduate student at UAlbany, and then continued with post-doctoral positions at Harvard Medical School and UMass – Amherst. More recently, Dr. Mennella has turned his attention towards new and effective approaches to teaching the sciences in the classroom, focusing on flipped and active learning pedagogies.

Flipped Learning

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Pioneered years ago by educators Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams, flipped learning moves lecture-based instruction to the students’ home as videos they watch before class. Class-time is then used for student-centered learning.  But, flipped learning has evolved considerably since it was formalized in the mid-2000s.

The Flipped Learning Global Initiative – or FLGI – was founded a few years ago by Jon Bergmann.  This consortium of flipped learning educators and thought leaders defined the evolution of flipped learning as three major milestones.  Flipped Learning 1.0 simply involved students watching videos at home as lectures, and doing homework in class.  Flipped Learning 2.0 featured large numbers of teachers using the approach, but working in isolation.  Flipped Learning 3.0 leverages freed in-class time for a wide array of student-centered, active learning opportunities and realizes that this pedagogy evolves over time, thriving when there is global collaboration between practitioners. 

Every nine months, the amount of published research on flipped learning doubles. The question becomes, if flipped learning has evolved to the 3.0 level, has the research being done about it evolved as well?  Sadly, the answer is no.  Fifty-seven articles have been published on flipped learning in the first ten weeks of 2018.  Of those, 53% represent flipped learning 1.0 studying its effectiveness in niche applications.  30% were 2.0 exploring why students might be more successful in flipped classes.  And, only 17% represented 3.0, offering novel uses of in-class time, exploring institution-wide adoption strategies, etc.

It’s time for the educational community to accept that flipped learning works and leverage its potential through shared innovation and collaboration.  It’s time for the research being done on flipped learning to catch up with its evolution.  It’s time to join the conversations going on now at FLGI and be part of this educational revolution that is getting underway.   

Modern air travel could not have been possible without the Wright brothers’ first, and let’s face it – dangerous, airplane.  While the Wright brothers’ legacy lives on every day as people fly around the world, none of us today would ever take the risk of a flight from point A to point B in that plane.  We understand that revolutions begin in a rough and flawed infancy, and then progress to greatness.

Flipped learning is leading a revolution in education.  Pioneered years ago by educators Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams, flipped learning moves passive, lecture-based instruction to the students’ home as videos that they watch before class. Class-time is then used for active, student-centered learning.  But, many teachers still doubt the efficacy of flipped learning because they are still thinking of the antiquated Wright brothers’ version.

Every nine months, the amount of published research on flipped learning doubles, and while nearly all of it shows that flipped learning works, most of it also suggests that few teachers are aware of flipped learning 3.0, which is the evolved form of this pedagogy that emphasizes the critical role of in-class or group space student activities in the learning process. 

Flipped Learning 3.0 was also developed by Jon Bergmann, who is now leading the Flipped Learning Global Initiative, and it is focused on evolving flipped learning into something better through global collaboration and a focus on providing students with the best in-class learning opportunities possible.  Flipped Learning 3.0 is the modern jet of education that will fly us to heights we never before believed were possible. 

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