Liberty promotes digital learning with flipped classrooms, online independent study courses

ELDERSBURG — Taylor Jones is enjoying the new way she’s learning math.

Jones, a freshman, is part of a conceptual algebra class at Liberty High School that’s functioning under a flipped classroom model.

Students watch a lecture for homework and then work on practice problems and ask questions of their teacher the next day in class.

“I think it’s a lot easier,” she said.

Liberty High School has piloted the flipped classroom and OpenCourseWare independent study courses this school year as part of a larger transition to digital learning. Students in certain social studies, science and math classes throughout all grades and academic levels are currently taking part in the flipped classroom pilot.

Jared Wastler, assistant principal at Liberty High School, said the goal is to move the school away from a static educational environment by getting students and staff members more connected to technology.

“Last spring, we asked if we could pilot the flipped classroom model,” he said. “We wanted to make sure we did it in a way that we utilized county technology and resources to best benefit our students and our staff.”

During the current spring semester, the school is using the OpenCourseWare program for the first time. With it, students are using free, online classes for independent study, Wastler said.

Four students are taking free classes put online by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and one student is taking a course through the University of California, Berkeley. Course subjects include microeconomics, introduction to disease and cancer research and nutrition.

Participating students must complete the online course in nine weeks, or a quarter of the school year, then complete a research project with an industry mentor, Wastler said.

The culminating experience, during which the mentor visits the school, is a presentation of their research and a reflection on their learning, Wastler said. Read more.