Flipped Learning: Active and Efficient Method

Sam Thompson
Updated July 6 2022
Flipped learning
Sam Thompson
Updated July 6 2022

When I work with customers – from K-12 schools to learning leaders in Fortune 500 companies – we often talk about the different types of video modalities available for instruction. There’s video-on-demand (VOD), interactive videos, virtual classrooms, simulive video, virtual events, and more. These video modalities help learners learn at different points along the learning journey.


But when to use one rather than the other? I always say that when we do something in real-time, we need to have a reason for it, and typically that reason or drive is to encourage collaboration, discussion, and active learning. The video modalities listed above are powerful tools, but we don’t use a hammer to drive in a screw (hopefully).


In that same way, educators are always experimenting with pedagogy to find the best way to improve student learning outcomes. Over the past couple of years, the classroom has been a center of innovation and bold thinking with many teachers embracing different teaching methods such as flipped learning.


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What is the flipped learning method?

Flipped learning is a learning methodology that promotes active learning within the classroom. Most commonly the flipped classroom requires students to gain base-level information outside of class by reviewing video lectures or reading so that class time is reserved for collaborative group work or projects. In the traditional classroom, students sit in class and the teacher lectures them. They are then assigned homework and projects to work on outside of class where they are expected to apply the knowledge gained from the lecture. Flipped learning flips this so that students are lectured outside of class most commonly with video lectures and apply this knowledge in active learning during class.




How is Flipped Learning Applied to the Learning Process?

Flipped learning enables active learning. Active learning is student-centered rather than teacher-centered. Active learning is the opposite of passive learning such as reading or listening to a teacher lecture. Active learning gives students ownership over their learning and allows them to apply the knowledge they gained through lectures. Flipped learning methods provide students the opportunity to apply their knowledge actively in class. The advantage of this is that feedback from the teacher and peers is readily available.


flipped learning


Flipped Learning & Lecture-Based Learning Comparison

There are certainly champions of each methodology, but often, teachers deploy both learning methodologies when appropriate. So, let’s consider how they are different from one another:


  • Flipped learning is active learning whereas lecture-based or traditional learning is passive learning.
  • With flipped learning, students watch video lectures outside of class while students are lectured in class for lecture-based learning.
  • With flipped learning, students work on projects and perform group work in class rather than at home, while they perform such activities at home for lecture-based learning.
  • Lecture-based learning assumes that access to information is limited and therefore must be provided by the teacher, whereas flipped learning assumes that information is abundant and available to students.
  • Flipped learning is student-centered while lecture-based learning is teacher-centered.
  • Flipped learning requires access to technology. For example, students require access to the internet and computers for most flipped learning activities. Lecture-based learning is less reliant on technology.
  • Lecture-based learning assumes students have no knowledge of the subjects being taught and consider class time as the time to impart such information. Flipped learning assumes and requires students to gain baseline knowledge outside of class.
  • Flipped learning requires students to drive their learning and assume responsibility for their learning. Lecture-based learning looks to the teacher to take a more active role in ensuring students understand the information.



Are Students Satisfied with Flipped Learning?

Well, like anything else, whether students are satisfied with flipped learning or not depends on a variety of factors. Generally, studies have shown that students are satisfied with flipped learning. In many cases, the overall impact on grades and satisfaction is still up for debate where some studies show negligible to minor overall impact. So, student satisfaction comes down to the actual implementation of flipped learning.


As we have seen, flipped learning puts the student first. It encourages independence and self-regulation. Rather than having their hands held at all times, students are responsible for gaining information and applying it. This might lead us to believe that flipped learning doesn’t require a teacher at all. This, if not already understood, is simply not the case. Student satisfaction with flipped learning is largely built on “guidance, pedagogy, and a safe atmosphere”.


Teachers play a central role in flipped learning. Though they may not be the center of the class, they still drive the success of the learning methodology. In fact, flipped learning may even require more time, effort, and creativity. Instead of simply lecturing the whole class, the teacher is expected to drive active learning by providing real-time, bespoke feedback per student. They must act as a guide for the student as the student progresses along their learning journey.




Proven Efficacy of the Flipped Learning Method

Is flipped learning an effective learning methodology? Yes, it is. It can be as effective as traditional learning methodologies. Again, it depends. Studies show that flipped learning can result in better student outcomes. Some studies show 60% of students reporting on the benefits of flipped learning where other studies show that flipped learning has a small effect in favor of learning. The truth is that more studies need to be done, but the learning methodology itself can be applied to specific lessons to promote student growth, responsibility, and independence.


flipped learning


Flipped Classroom vs Flipped Learning: What is the Difference?

We previously wrote about the flipped classroom so what’s the difference between flipped learning and the flipped classroom. To be honest, we’re kind of splitting hairs here, but since you’ll come in contact with both terms, we should note the differences between the two. Flipped learning is a learning methodology that can be applied to a specific project or exercise. Flipped learning might not and doesn’t necessarily mean that the whole structure of the class is changed. The flipped classroom typically refers to changing the structure of the class.




Online Flipped Classroom: How Does it Work?

Flipped classrooms have been around for quite some time, but they really became newsworthy during the pandemic. The reason for this is that the flipped classroom is largely dependent on technology, so the flipped classroom works well online. In fact, many online schools use only online flipped classrooms.


What are some of the hallmarks of online flipped classrooms?


  • Flexible schedules – Many students learning online require flexibility. Online flipped classrooms allow students to handle most of their studies on their own time rather than having to be in class from 8 AM-3 PM Monday through Friday.
  • Scale – Teacher shortages are a real thing. Online flipped classrooms give teachers the ability to work with more students than they typically would since their lecture time is prerecorded. Instead, teachers can be a resource for students to help them complete their projects as needed.
  • Extended reach – Students may live in remote areas and access to teachers and school might be limited. Online flipped classrooms give students opportunities to work with teachers in programs that might not be available locally.


The make-up of an online flipped classroom typically is as follows:


  • Students sign on to a school virtual learning environment (VLE)
  • They access their course material such as video lectures and independent learning materials
  • Instead of joining different classes from 8 AM-3 PM every day, K-12 students typically join 2-3 online classes or less a day in a virtual classroom.
  • Online classrooms are opportunities to get real-time feedback from the teacher or their peers rather than lectures.




Teacher’s Role in the Online Flipped Classroom

Just like in any flipped classroom, the teacher’s role in an online flipped classroom is to guide students along their learning journey. Teachers can provide real-time feedback to learners as they work on their projects. Teachers must design the activities for the class, create the resources (such as video lectures) and materials for students to use, and ensure students know how to use the provided resources. During the class, teachers can identify knowledge gaps and address them in real-time rather than feedback for later application.




Advantages and Disadvantages of Flipped Learning

Flipped learning or the flipped classroom can improve student outcomes as well as student satisfaction. However, it’s not a magic learning methodology that solves all the problems of traditional learning.


Advantages of flipped learning

    • Promotes active learning where students, rather than the teacher, are at the center of the classroom.
    • Greater opportunities for real-time teacher and peer feedback
    • Flipped learning is flexible.
    • Provides students opportunities to learn at their own pace
    • Increased collaboration between students
    • Extended reach and greater scale of teaching

Disadvantages of flipped learning

    • Relies on access to technology that students may not have access to such as internet access and a computer.
    • Depends on the ability of students to self-regulate and drive their own learning. Some students may not be ready for this.
    • Requires more preparation and classroom monitoring which may be challenging for some teachers





It’s important to remember that flipped learning is a learning methodology. It’s not an elixir nor an end-all solution. It’s a tool that can be wielded to effectively drive better student outcomes and greater student satisfaction.

Though flipped learning changes the role of the teacher in the class, it does not remove their role in the classroom. In fact, teachers may find greater responsibility as a teacher in a flipped classroom than in a traditional classroom.

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of flipped learning is that it helps K-12 students develop important skills that will drive their future success in higher education as well as in their careers. It helps them grow by forcing them to take ownership of their learning, to be responsible for and take accountability for their success or failure, and to motivate themselves to progress. For that alone, flipped learning is worth experimenting with for applicable projects or learning activities.

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