Jonathan Bergmann is a Science teacher, educational coach and writer who has “the privilege of helping the educators transform their concept of teaching”. He is one of the developers of the “flipped classroom” model along with fellow teacher Aarom Sams. Bergmann has over 24 years of experience as a high school Science teacher. He has also become a primary technology facilitator of the school district in the outskirts of Chicago, USA. Today Jonathan Bergmann is committed to promoting his concept of the flipped classroom and is a co-founder of the Flipped Learning Network (flippedlearning.org), a non-profit organization which offers materials and research on flipped learning.
What inspired you to design this new model?
Aaron Sams and I wanted to help our students to learn more deeply than in the past. We realized that they were going home and struggling with our class, but when we flipped it, we realized that they were getting the help they needed from their teachers.
What’s the best way to organize a class?
There isn’t a best way. But there is a better question to ask: What is the best use of my face-to-face class time? I would argue that it is not standing in front of the room and lecturing. It is something else.
Should the teachers use the flipped model solely, or should it be mixed with other methods, including the traditional ones?
The flipped classroom is actually a way to get to other methodologies. What it does is frees up the teacher from always being at the front of the room and lets him use other methods like project based learning, inquiry, mastery, and a host of other methods. This diminishes the lecture and allows more class time for a host of other pedagogies.
What technology is used in this model?
Most teachers use screencasting software to record their screen. Then they post the videos to an online source. But I want to say that the flipped class is not about the videos. It is about the active things you can now do in your class because of the videos. If you want to learn more about the specific tools, we have them listed on our website flippedclass.com/tools.
What are the potential problems once the flipped classroom method is put into practice?
When teachers apply the model for the first time, they have to face some challenges. The biggest is to ensure that the students actually watch the videos outside of the classroom. And not only that, but also to make sure they teach the students how to really understand what they are watching. And more importantly, the teacher needs to decide what to do in class, once the lesson has been conveyed at home.
Aren’t we risking the students becoming lazier if they, for example, get used to not watching the videos?
There will always be some students who don’t do the homework. But we are finding that more will watch these videos than do the “old” homework. Most students who are in effective flipped classrooms are asking for more teachers to switch. They find that it saves them time at home and allows them to understand the content more deeply.
Is this model appropriate for all subjects?
We have seen this work in Grade 1 classes through college professors. We have seen this effectively for all subjects: Mathematics, Literature, Geography, History, Science, Art, Cooking, Auto repair, nurse training, and the list goes on. Aaron Sams and I are just finishing up a series of books on how to flip different subjects. The first two books: Flipped Learning for Science Instruction and Flipped Learning for Math Instruction are published. The next three will be Flipped Social Sciences, Flipped Literature, and then Flipped for Primary Schools. You can find these at flippedclass.com/books-2.
It is a model that requires too much effort from the teacher?
This is a lot of hard work. I am asking teachers to work hard. But the rewards are great. More students will understand, more students will comprehend, and more students will be successful. This is where I encourage ministries of Education to give teachers time to learn how to flip their classes. There is a huge need for teachers to learn how to flip their classes. This is in fact what Aaron Sams and I are now doing: working with schools, teachers, and ministries of Education to bring the flipped class to the world. You can find out more at flippedclass.com. We are also hoping to bring a flipped class conference (FlipCon) to Spain in the Spring of 2016.
What about the assessment with this model? What learning outcomes are achieved?
In the flipped class, you don’t have to change your assessments. You can keep the same ones. But some teachers after flipping their classes do change their assessments to match the new pedagogy where they give students more choice even in assessments. Teachers who have flipped their classes generally see increased test scores from their students.
How do you get the parents involved?
It is important to inform the families about this new method. Once it is explained well, families embrace the method.