Translated and compiled by Yuan-ling Liang

On April 17, Jonathan Bergmann, inventor of the “flipped classroom,” attended an educational conference in Taiwan held by UDN, sharing the spirit of the unconventional teaching method and his opinions on Taiwan’s education system. During the conference, Bergmann pointed out that teachers in Taiwan might be replaced by YouTube videos if they don’t change their teaching methods.

Teachers should promote problem-solving abilities

Bergmann is a high school chemistry teacher in the US and has more than 20 years of teaching experience. In 2007, he filmed his lectures in class for absent students, but was accused of encouraging them to not come to school. This urged him to contemplate on the real function and value of teachers.

According to Bergmann, education is diversified into five levels:

Photo Credit: Yuan-ling Liang/The News Lens

Photo Credit: Yuan-ling Liang/The News Lens

Bergmann points out that traditional classes usually focus more on memorizing basic knowledge, but fail to provide higher-level abilities (as shown in the picture above). However, since the responsibilities of teachers is to help students understand as much as possible, helping students develop their problem solving abilities is more efficient than just lecturing. In the US, Bergmann observes that only 6% of the class hours are used to promote upper-level abilities, such as analyzing and practical application.

In Taiwan, teachers fail to cultivate students’ abilities in solving exam questions, so most students go to cram schools to learn the same material again.

The spirit of “flipped classroom”

Bergmann says that in the digital era, videos of lectures are accessible on YouTube and they will possibly replace traditional education within years. However, he emphasizes that what these videos can’t do is advanced training, including analyzing and applying what students learn from the videos. If teachers were able to provide upper-level education, they would become irreplaceable.

So, Bergmann replaces lecturing hours at school with videos he films beforehand and makes students watch them at home. Students no longer need to bother their parents with their homework assignments. Instead, they preview the content at home and do the exercise at school where teachers can help them immediately.

Bergmann clarifies that flipped learning doesn’t necessarily alleviate students’ pressure, but will definitely bring more efficiency and liveliness in class. Additionally, the flipped classroom isn’t about abandoning all traditional methods, but emphasizing more on logic training and independent thinking.

In response to those who suspect the effect of flipped classrooms in Taiwan, Bergmann mentions several mistakes he observes. For example, sometimes the films are too lengthy and some teachers do not provide upfront guidance before students watch the videos.

Evolution of flipped classrooms in Taiwan

NTU Associate Professor Yeh Ping-cheng (Benson), who also attended the conference, is the pioneer of the flipped classroom in Taiwan.

Yeh applied the flipped learning method in his college course years ago, finding it quite successful and efficient. According to his article in Parenting Magazine, he set up a workshop in NTU to share this teaching experience in 2013.

Fang Shin-jou, former CEO of Ranlink Technology Corporation, has also been working with Yeh to promote flipped classrooms in Taiwan and has influenced hundreds of teachers. Fang even established the learning platform Junyi Academy in 2012, uploading lecturing videos online for free.

Yeh writes in a Facebook post that he is pleased to see Taiwanese teachers modify the flipped classroom method to adapt to Taiwanese students’ learning habits. He also emphasizes the importance of developing students’ video watching habits, which is the key to a successful flipped classroom.

Edited by Olivia Yang

National Education Radio