Today’s teaching world presents a fascinating convergence of several trends and scientific realities that will inherently rely on the 9 best tools for flipped classrooms, which are the classrooms of the future. Flipped classrooms literally turn traditional classrooms upside down and deliver online instruction out of class and move what used to be called “homework” into the classroom. Thus, students can work together using these 9 best digital tools for flipped classrooms and even include Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC).
Educators are no longer at the center of the learning process in flipped classrooms and students can achieve mastery by moving at their own pace.
“One of the advantages of mastery learning is that the student, not the teacher, leads — and we know that people learn far better when they are actively involved. The teacher provides materials, tools and constant support. Students set their own goals and manage their own time,” says Tina Rosenberg in New York Times commentary article.
On one hand, current research in educational theory and recent advances in neuroscience illustrate that we must design brain-friendly educational model based on learning behaviors that reflect the actual workings of the human brain.
But before you say, “Come on, that sounds like a no-brainer,” take a step back and look at our standard model of teaching. With assessment via standardized tests, brightly-lit classrooms, use of negative reinforcement and reliance on rote memorization, it is clear our current model is based on an outdated mini-scientific model and needs to integrate digital tools into the classrooms of the future – flipped classrooms.
Why These 9 Best Digital Tools for Flipped Classrooms Are So Critical to the Learning Process
We now know that this new style of “brain-based learning” in flipped classrooms presents amazing opportunities for educators to design their curriculum in a manner consistent with these new findings. Looking at the brain-based learning model, teachers can now create lesson plans based directly on how children’s brains work, paying special attention to how they retain information, remember facts and concepts and “learn.”
At the same time, another paradigm shift is taking place: the digital revolution has arrived in the classrooms and those schools that are not jumping on board are losing relevance from their students and are losing the opportunity to equip their students with the technological know-how and adaptability they need in the real world. That is why flipped classrooms are so critical to global understanding and learning.
In his book, From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom, futurist and learning designer Marc Prensky, described how the current generation of students are “digital natives,” meaning they have grown up in an environment of technological use that we older “digital immigrants” can barely understand.
As he makes clear, “Today’s average college grads have spent less than 5,000 hours of their lives reading, but over 10,000 hours playing video games (not to mention 20,000 hours watching TV).” As a result, in order to “speak their language” and keep them engaged, we as educators must embrace this new technology.
So the question that presents itself is: can we as teachers bring these two trends together and if so, how best to do this?
The Answer for Marrying Technology and Learning for Mastery Lies in Flipped Classrooms
Several prominent educators and researchers have weighed in on the topic, such as Marilee Sprenger, whose book Brain-based Teaching in the Digital Age warn us that though there are some amazing tech resources currently available in the classroom, we must also be careful to balance creativity with technology. We must also try to integrate more physical activities and art-based projects into our technologically-advanced classrooms, she points out.
What is the Best Tool to Teach With in Flipped Classrooms?
But possessing the digital tools is only half the battle. “Put them away when these are not the best tools to learn with” is great advice for teachers.” Teachers should not believe that these tools always have to be at the center of every activity (just as they used to be themselves). A MacArthur Foundation video highlights the work of a teacher that possesses amazing tech resources in her classroom, but only relies on them when needed.
Another big challenge, as Prensky points out, is including reflection and critical thinking into a tech-based learning environment. Only through making “mental models” based on this practice will students truly “learn from experience.”
Keeping these two convergent trends in mind and also considering the flipped classrooms paradigm, it is clear that we as educators need to develop constructive ways to use a variety of technological tools in the classroom in a brain-stimulating manner, consistent with the current brain-based learning methods. These tools must provide a competitive advantage over non-tech tools; as was stated above, we cannot be seduced into using tech solely for tech sake.