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Mayra Aixa Villar is a freelance instructional designer and researcher who is passionate about educational technology.  She is currently finishing a thesis to obtain an MA in Applied Linguistics. Her dissertation is about linguistic modeling and computer-based applications. This project has allowed her to intern at UN HQ, participate in international meetings and collaborate in several research activities. You can also follow Mayra on Twitter @MayraAixaVillar or on
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Flipping the classroom to break through into Today´s society

Nowadays, teachers and tutors have a great challenge to face: adapt their practices to the digital era in order to prevent classroom contents from becoming obsolete. There is a paramount need to examine how students are taught so to help them undergo the rapid changes of the real world. How can educational practices be suitable to students´ current needs and to the job requirements imposed by today´s society?

A very interesting concept has been recently coined by Jonathan Bergman and Aaron Sams (2007): “the flipped classroom”. This model advocates for a change in the participants´ traditional roles, use of technology in education as well as innovative and interactive learning activities. Classroom flip provides the opportunity for learning through action, reflection and collaboration.

Flipped roles

In archaic educational models, the teacher used to be the only “owner of the truth”, the only expert. But, nowadays, the abundance of information and the prevalence of digital sources challenge the role of the teacher as unique source of knowledge and at the same time; require him/her to become a facilitator of learning experiences and a curator of learning content. Thus, the teacher should show students new alternatives to integrate content, discover how to connect classrooms lessons to real-life situations and then, develop the necessary skills to assimilate, apply and build -not just consume- knowledge.

Figure 1. One of the main features of the “Flipped Classroom”: A new role for the teacher

By using technology, teachers and tutors can offer students the tools they need to break through into the Knowledge and Information Society. Through ICT, students are encouraged to play an active role in their learning process. They search information, make decisions, critically analyze content, identify real problems, propose solutions based on online research findings and can evaluate the feasibility of their conclusions.

Flipped activities

The learning becomes meaningful as students can build up their own understanding through experimentation and collaboration. Students do know how to use new technological devices, they also know that information is simply a click away; but they need guidance on how to digest the vast information out there, how to transform it, revise it, and apply it to acquire new knowledge and new skills. Now, bearing that in mind, teachers can pave the way for students´ success outside the classroom, if they design activities that:

  • lead to exploration and reflection

  • are context-embedded

  • allow for open participation and even, new questions

  • require the use of multidisciplinary resources

  • promote collaborative work

  • develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills

  • foster the systematized use of technological resources

  • connect classroom lessons to real-life situations

The following diagram shows the characteristics and outcomes of the “Flipped Classroom” activities:

Figure 2. Activities’ characteristics and outcomes.

In short, it is all about engaging the students as problem-finders and solvers, active technology users and co-workers as the teacher guides their interaction with resources, content and peers. As Andrea Kurlan states in her article Recoding the classroom, “[in this way] we can catalyze a wave of social change” and students will be able to embrace the real, changing world.


Andrew Churches (2011) A 21st Century Pedagogy. Retrieved June 20, 2011, from

Andrea Kurlan (2011) Recoding the Classroom. Retrieved January 2, 2012, from

Knewton Infographics (2011) The Flipped Classroom. Retrieved January 6, 2012, from

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