Flipped learning is essentially turning the traditional classroom teaching model on its head. Students access the core content at home in their own time and dedicate classroom time to collaborative problem-solving activities and discussions with their teacher and peers.

The model is gaining traction around the world, with research showing it can help improve results and keep students motivated. Schools are finding that ‘flipped learning’ is particularly well suited to international learners.

Education New Zealand chief executive Grant McPherson says New Zealand has a reputation for being open to new ideas and new approaches in teaching.

“The use of flipped learning to improve outcomes for international students is a really good example of how educators can use technology to solve issues, and improve the quality of the learning experience that international students may have,” he says.

One school that has seen the benefits of flipped learning with its international students is ACG Pathways.

International student Xin Yiran (Syndy) agrees that flipped learning has helped her a lot. Syndy, from China, is enrolled at the University of Auckland Certificate in Foundation Studies delivered by ACG Pathways.

“I would go through the knowledge before the class, so I had gotten a structure of the theory. I could stop the video where I did not understand so that I could see this part over and over again or went to the internet to search some information to help my understanding. Also, I could find out some places I still could not understand waiting for asking the teacher next day.

“It was efficient to learn new knowledge. In class, I would get many papers to do and discussed with classmates to help me comprehend the concepts deeper. In this way, I could remember the knowledge for a long time. So I really like this learning method.”

Luo Hongwei (Brian) is enrolled on the same course as Syndy and is also from China. He says flipped learning helped him gain satisfaction and confidence in learning economics. His teachers made full topic videos covering every concept and definition, which Brian went back to over and over again until he gained a full understanding.

 

ACG Executive Principal Mark Haines agrees that international students particularly value the opportunity to pause and rewind in their own time to help them understand what is being taught.

“For students whose first language isn’t English, it can be easy to not follow a lesson and then be too shy to ask for help. The flipped model allows students to watch a video that covers the key points.”

A survey undertaken this year showed that Pathways students in flipped classes favour the approach, finding it gives them more time to ask questions and work on practical exercises with their teachers. Around 20 per cent of ACG Pathways staff are actively flipping lessons with their students.

“It has revolutionised how they teach,” says Haines, “And it has given students more time to interact with their teacher and engage with the content. The model prepares them better for independence at university and helps them to be more collaborative in their approach to learning.”

ACG Pathways engaged the services of American flipped learning founder Jon Bergmann, bringing him to New Zealand to advise on implementing the approach.

Since adopting the model at ACG Pathways, Haines has been named in the top 40 flipped learning administrators worldwide.

McPherson says the flipped learning approach can benefit domestic students too.

“I also see value for domestic students in that this model provides more opportunity for them to discuss content, exchange ideas, and learn from students with a different background and perspective than their own.”

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