One of the most popular teaching techniques of the 2012-2013 academic school year is to “flip the classroom.” This idea of taking a standard class lecture and subsequently making it available online for students to review at his or her own pace is putting the student in control—thereby “flipping” the standard teaching process.

The immediate benefits of this practice include allowing students to watch, press pause, review, and re-play an idea until it makes sense; going at a slower or faster pace; having the option to learn in the standard classroom or self-teach at home; and more. There are many more reasons why flipping the classroom is actually helping students and professors alike get more out of learning and lecturing.

Teachers and professors alike warn that flipping the classroom isn’t simply recording a lecture and putting it online; rather, it’s an interactive approach that requires students to gather information outside of class, be prepared to engage with the material in class, and actively participate during class lectures. Teacher Scot Rainear reverses the standard process, recording traditional lessons for students to view at home, and then opening classroom time for students to solve homework problems in class, where he and peers can actually help students stuck on any aspect of a problem. Certain higher education professionals believe that new professor-student shifts are on the horizon, but this doesn’t mean that professors are useless in the classroom; instead, it’s all about communication. This new information age is making it clear to students that the central pillar of their college education is what professionals have always believed it to be: their responsibility

Salman Khan, founder of the free, 4,000-video-plus video library the Khan Academy, likes to say that in traditional classes, “A teacher has to give a one-size-fits-all lecture.” But when the classroom is flipped, teachers and students alike can learn at their own pace in a more tailored environment.  In fact, this is proving true in high school classes as well. By introducing students to new topics via online video lessons created by their teacher, kids can choose to be well-prepared for class through simple, 5-minute videos. This setup blends online instruction, teamwork, peer support, and teacher-guided work sessions, allowing students to more actively participate in the learning process.

Though we have yet to gather hard statistics on the efficacy of flipping the classroom, it appears that students appreciate both the responsibility and the challenge of active participation. Intellectual involvement instead of passive listening? Now that’s something everyone can agree on.