Everyone seems to think that technology can help students, parents, and teachers solve the host of challenges facing education today. But how exactly tech should be integrated into existing lesson plans, what kind of web access kids should have in school, and how new hardware gets paid for are just a few of the barriers to change.

But there are two particular models for tech integration that seem promising: Flipped Classroom and Project Based Learning.

The critical questions these two teaching methods ask are these: how can classroom learning facilitate a collaborative atmosphere that’s engaging for students and that mimics the 21st century work environment? And how can the same technology that students often use at home be leveraged to foster teamwork and critical thinking in the classroom?

High school math teacher Crystal Kirch has been chronicling her experiment with the flipped classroom model on her blog, Flipping with Kirch. Here’s the definition of what flipping a classroom means, in her own words, and why it helps students learn:

There is no single definition for a “Flipped Classroom”, and every teacher’s flipped classroom will look slightly different.  I feel that it is a classroom that uses videos/vodcasts/ podcasts as instructional tools to help time-shift the instruction of concepts so students receive the most support (teacher presence) when they are working on the heaviest cognitive load (actually solving problems and working on understanding/using the content by themselves).

So out the door go all the trappings of a traditional classroom environment. In class lectures and homework that students actually take home are no more. Instead, using tech tools like LessonPaths and Educreations, kids are exposed to a new math concept by viewing Learning Playlists on their own time or briefly in class. Then they’re encouraged to create more Playlists with fellow students as they work through the trial and error of tackling a new idea together rather than at home alone. You can see how Crystal’s students are learning with Playlists like the one below here:

Flipping a classroom or transitioning a school to Project Based Learning are not easy tasks, but they are both promising leads in the ongoing discussion on how to revamp education for our modern world.