Flipping Out Over the Flipped Classroom!

Two kids Standing on their hands in a pile of leaves

Two kids Standing on their hands in a pile of leavesFunny how easily we get worked up over innovation. Frequently, we are so afraid of change that we stop thinking rationally the minute something new hits the classroom?

I am talking about all those flipping out over the relatively new use of technology in the classroom. The term used is the ‘flipped’ classroom. Simply put, teachers can fairly easily create their lessons on their computers adding any audio or visual, and make the presentation available to students. Sal Khan, and his Khan Academy, is an example of how the videos can be used.

The general idea is to allow for each student, or groupings of students, to gain direct access to specific instruction at any place or any time. This could then actually allow the student to ‘learn’ the material at home, and then use the classroom, and access to a real live teacher, for questions, review or further discussion. Thus, the traditional model, of learning in the classroom and reviewing at home, would, in effect, be flipped.

The advantages are obvious. Gone would be the days when students would have to sit through classes either bored by the slow pace teachers may be forced to teach, or conversely clueless as to what was being taught due to the quick pace of instruction. Each student would get exactly the pace of instruction they require. Ease of access to instruction would make this type of classroom an educators dream, and redefine the value and meaning of homework.

Of course the critics were soon crying foul. What of the human interaction, both teacher-student and student-student, that is integral to real learning and deep understanding? Don’t our children already spend too many hours in front of computer screens, eschewing healthy social interactions that build emotional intelligence and form good character?

As always, the debate gets loud and hides the simple truth; both sides are correct. To teach only using videos, and relegate the teacher to learning facilitator and the classrooms to review-rooms, would be misguided. However, to reject the obvious advantages that such learning could provide would be equally foolish. Not realizing the vast potential this technology holds for differentiated instruction, to give just one example, would be incredibly shortsighted.

To be clear, flipped learning is a tool that should be part of every teacher’s repertoire. Finding when it can be best and most effectively used is no different than knowing when to change activities, when to use cooperative learning and when to teach frontally. The old proverb teaches; ‘Who is wise? He who learns from all men.’ He or she who is able to learn from all men, and use that knowledge to teach others, makes others wise as well. Isn’t that what good teachers do?

10 Responses to Flipping Out Over the Flipped Classroom!

  1. I am in favor of anything that helps educators be more effective in helping students learn. For your consideration, “A leader/teacher is one who measureably improves someone’s life”

    We cannot be afraid to explore new options!

    • Karmi Gross says:

      I love your definition and your openness to try all options that will measurably improve the future of our children.

  2. Ellen says:

    Flipping over your solid post on flipped classrooms and good teaching. What a great read for teachers!

    • Karmi Gross says:

      Thank you for your appreciation. What a great way to applaud a call for innovation and to embrace positive change.

  3. Kathryn says:

    I am a teacher and I think this type of learning would work well in a GATE program and Special Ed programs and Homework is accessing the videos and class time is used for activities based around the video/powerpoint lessons already viwed. Parents could get involved by accessing the material with their child/children and make the learning process a cooperative effort.

    • Karmi Gross says:

      Yes! Your comments point to the fact that we can use new methodologies to help every type of student. So much is possible and only through teachers such as yourself will we be able to fully utilize these new tools to help our students learn.

  4. Dessie Hughes says:

    I like the pedagogy of a ‘flipped classroom’, but how we we get kids to listen to lectures at home? Isn’t it still ‘homework’? What about those without the Internet? Am looking for some constructive ideas here. Thanks!

    • Karmi Gross says:

      The concept of the flipped classroom is not restricted to a school/home flip. One can flip the frontal lesson and classroom review session. The students can ‘learn’ the material at the start of the lesson through the internet individually or in small groups (assuming that students do have internet access in the school) and then review/discuss/deepen understanding with the teacher (a variation could have students running the review). The major idea behind the flipped classroom is that students are not first introduced to the material via the teacher in the classroom, but rather in a much more individualized fashion. Giving students the ability to achieve initial understanding at their individual pace makes all the difference. As for getting students to access at home, trust me it’s a lot easier than getting them to read the textbook.

  5. dpierce says:

    knowledge acquisition skills, knowledge retention and knowledge are all about solving personal cognitive dissonance (curiosity) and social cognitive dissonance (peer pressure/group consensus). The concept of flipping basic instruction is essentially what drives basic research. A problem is introduced to the group. Individuals go out to the literature, the lab and the clinic/population/field (in my field of medicine). Groups form and discuss findings build from them and hammer out inconsistencies. The process is repeated with each time the building of a collective knowledge base. In the youth version there is a guide – the teacher who at best should give direction sparsely and NOT offer reward for following direction but reward to the group for achieving a consensus solution to the problem(s). If the internet is the sole scope of the work out of the class then the process has been mis-applied.

    • Karmi Gross says:

      I could not agree more. The flipped classroom works best when the internet is used as the initial introduction to the new information we wish the student to begin to process. The beauty of the approach is that it allows for individual exposure to the information and gives each student the time they need to properly intake what the teacher is trying to convey. It thus allows every student to then become an active participant in the exciting types of educational processes you have outlined.

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