Ten years on, BYOD helps the flipped classroom come of age

2017 marks the ten year anniversary of when the ideology behind the flipped classroom first took hold. Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams, two chemistry teachers in Colorado, wanted to spend more time with each student during class time, so began posting their lectures online to free up time face to face time for discussion. Since then the concept has become popular all over the world, and with the onset of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), adoption has skyrocketed.

BYOD in the classroom

"Miss/sir? Can I use my phone?" is the question posed to teachers up and down the country on a daily basis. This could be so students can use their devices to search for information on the internet or take a picture of an experiment to illustrate a report. Indeed, according to a Pearson Student Mobile Device Survey 8 out of 10 school students reported having a smartphone, that unlike textbooks, they never forget. 

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With this in mind, it’s time to face reality and examine the ways that students’ personal devices can be used to enhance the learning experience. While a school should always moderate and establish rules for the digital content shared by students, BYOD allows pupils to contribute to team activities and tends to increase the motivation of the students and their interest in course materials. In a flipped classroom, it could significantly enhance collaboration among students, particularly as wireless presentation system technology matures to allow multiple mobile devices to connect to a classroom screen to share content and lead group activities.


Schools’ rules should be evaluated and provide a chance to implement the BYOD philosophy in the classroom. The smartphone proves to be a useful learning tool, of course, always with regulated usage by the teacher.

To increase interactivity among students a flipped classroom is built around the notion of collaboration, favouring group work. It is in this configuration that collaborative technologies integrated in the classroom can demonstrate their full potential: real-time exchange, interaction, sharing of contents from all sources and formats, and discussion of work from students' mobile terminals.


However, a wireless presentation system is required to link the class’ display system to the devices used by students without worrying about cables and other wire connections. By mirroring their devices, multiple students can view one or more digital contents together, compare data and interact and collaborate easily with each other as well as the teacher. They can also have the opportunity to make annotations on the content being presented and even save any annotations in their own devices. The idea behind this solution is simple: increase collaboration in the classroom and focus on performance. Students could share information with the class as a whole, or just with the members of their huddle group. The teacher can then see the content being presented and let the students know errors or highlight important information.


Flipped classrooms around the world

The classroom layout of the American high school PTECH in Johnstown, New York, was designed as a collaborative space for a start-up or a company meeting room. It is composed of four to five subspaces which are all equipped with a large screen, positioned in front of a table around on which students take their place and collaborate with projects in small groups. They can all connect their peripherals (computers, tablets, smartphones) to the screen through the wireless presentation system. Teachers move from table to table and can work either with the group or individually with each student. The students are the protagonist of their projects, learning how to lead them by interacting with each other.


A number of innovative teachers in France have really run with the idea of the flipped classroom, with very positive results. Physics teacher, Martial Gavaland led several experiments at his school . He uses pedagogical platforms such as EntBox and Moodle from which the students could access their course resources, tutorials, exercises and assignments. Frédéric Laujon at the Lycée La Colinière in Nantes no longer gives exercises to do at home but rather short videos of 2 to 3 minutes to view. The evaluation of the viewed video is done during a questionnaire sent to the students. Cher school maths teacher, Christophe Le Guelvouit, also gives his students the opportunity to watch videos on their smartphones. The work plan indicates which video should be seen to study a particular topic, and each student advances at his/her own pace with the possibility of continuing at home.


These examples showcase the possibilities that BYOD and the flipped classroom bring while working in tandem. Students have the opportunity to become more involved with their studies and capitalise on the best learning environments for digesting course content and applying their knowledge with the confidence of support when they need it. Mobile and collaborative technologies support students' autonomy and reinforce the notion of collaborative work, which is exactly what this method’sideology is based on - providing a better educational experience with digital tools is positively influencing the student’s performance and motivation in the classroom. 

Dick de Vaal, CEO – P2M/wePresent