For many, flipping the classroom simply involves turning the traditional classroom on its head – moving the class work home, and the homework to class. Others argue there is a lot more to flipping than meets the eye. Rather, as flipped learning pioneer, Jon Bergmann states, it’s moving from “sage on the stage” to “guide on the side.” For students, the obvious benefit lies in the ability to pause and rewind the teacher at will. For teachers, it means less time creating lectures, and more engaged students as the boring introductions are pushed out, and the fun practical work is pulled in. Yet, looking at the 21st century skills embedded within flipping that are so essential to the modern learner, the benefits are much more apparent.

Flipped Learning’s 21st Century Skills:

1. Independent Learning

By moving direct instruction outside of the classroom, students are encouraged to engage in metacognitive learning. Here, the students can learn in a setting, and at a pace, that suits their needs, facilitating a personalized experience and promoting independent learning.

2. Critical Thinking

As 21st century learners, critical thinking has never been more of a focal point. Through independent learning, students are encouraged to think critically, thus promoting their curiosity and broadening their knowledge. Critical thinking teaches the obstacles of dependence and the benefits of self-confidence – invaluable lessons that prepare students for an increasingly unpredictable future.

3. Collaboration

We are all aware of the benefits of effective collaboration, and luckily it has never been so easy to facilitate. Through the flipped classroom model, students are urged to collaborate effectively using social media outside school walls, while the classroom itself becomes a proactive hub for positive and productive peer-to-peer instruction.

4. Digital Literacy

Digital literacy is one skill that no 21st century learner can do without. By using technology to view lessons, interact and collaborate on a daily basis, students open themselves up to a world of possibilities through technology. Digital literacy and digital citizenship are embedded in their use of technology as they are encouraged to use their devices as platforms for learning and development, as opposed to social accessories.

5. Digital Citizenship

Facilitating the evolution from ‘digital native’ to ‘digital citizen’ is another focal point for education of the 21st century. Encouraging students to work side by side in a digital environment teaches the basics of respect and cooperation in an online world. Flipped learning brings digital collaboration to the fore, building that mutual understanding that’s rooted in the digital citizen.

6. Creativity

In order for students to become independent learners and thinkers, fostering their curiosity and feeding their creativity is key. Learning outside the classroom, equipped with the tools to unleash their imagination, students are urged to be innovative and inquisitive thought leaders. With innovation and creativity proving to be key drivers of 21st century success, it’s the age of the innovator.

7. Social Skills

Growing up in a culture of social media is not an easy feat, and one that can further hinder a person’s social growth. By converting the classroom into a more active, collaborative workspace you can place the emphasis on forming healthy relationships and building productive teams.

8. Problem-solving

Another essential skill for the 21st century learner, problem-solving is a complex ability too often overlooked as inherent. With a steady routine of collaborative communication and a constant flow of independent learning, a student’s problem-solving skills can evolve hugely and adequately prepare them for the challenges ahead.

While only a brief outline of the many skills embedded within flipped learning, there are several more. The flipped classroom is the ideal model to invest in 21st century skills, and provide students with a one-to-one learning experience, that works around them.

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About the author:


Lorna Keane is a teacher of French, English and ESL. She specializes in language teaching and has taught in second and third-level institutions in several countries. She holds a B.A in languages and cultural studies and an M.A in French literature, theory and visual culture. Follow her on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.

Image credits: Mindy Gerecke / CC BY 2.0