Explain to Me Again How the Flipped Classroom Is "Revolutionary?"

The heading says it all.  I get the giggles whenever another article or post or conversation or conference write up talks about the revolution of the Flipped Classroom.  Depending on the information in the article, post, conversation etc sometimes I even start to roll my eyes.  This is big time annoyance for someone who doesn’t like to criticize.  So how come so many people, the public included, find the flipped learning model to be so revolutionary and game changing for schools?  Can we tear it apart for just a second and then think about it?

I get that flipped learning isn’t just video outside of the classroom or not meant to be anyway, but it seems much of it is.  Students watch a lecture taped outside of class time (homework) and then come to class ready to learn and discuss.  Genius, except for the whole watching a lecture outside of class.  At a high school level I can only imagine how many hours of video we could assign students as homework so that they finally were ready to learn in school.  And don’t even get me started on the students that have no access to said videos 

Some teachers then don’t assign the video outside of school time but instead show the video as the first part of their class time.  Umm, isn’t that just the same as lecturing in front of the students for the first ten minutes?  How is that revolutionary?  What am I missing here?  I would have a hard time telling my students, “Watch this video of me explaining the concept to you while I stand right here watching it with you.”  My 5th graders would think I had gone off the deep end.  Sure creating a video for access later to study or revisit, yeah, that’s great, but showing it during class time when you are standing right there?  WHat am I missing as far as the point?

Yet, perhaps it is the discussion and exploration that is revolutionary and not the video part of the flipped learning.  I already do that with my students, it is called project-based learning.  It is called genius hour.  It is called student choice.  And I don’t need a video to facilitate that.  In fact, most people who believe in student-led, project based, don’t lecture very much.  We provide the framework  the destination and then students get there somehow through research, collaboration, and creation.  Yes, this is what I feel learning should always be, but it is not a flipped model.

Student engagement does go up whenever I turn to project-based, of course, it does.  When we give students choice, and a voice, and a place where they can freely explore, they will invest their dedication.  That has nothing to do with flipping the classroom.

So If we want to talk revolution, let’s hail the teachers that believe in student choice.  Let’s hail the teachers that somehow manage to fit in their curriculum in the time they have the students in front of them and don’t see the need to also add homework, or video, or lecture time out side of class.  Let’s hail those who time manage, who figure out how to fit it all in, and who get out of the way of their students.

Flipped classroom if done correctly is just another way to say student exploration and student led and thank goodness for the resurgence of that.  But could we also agree that the flipped classroom model using video outside of school is another way to infringe on students’ private time.  Another example how we, as teachers, sometimes end up overstepping our boundaries of how much time we make school take up.  And I don’t find that to be revolutionary at all, just sad.  Creating a video library of explanations, sure, great idea, but forcing students to watch you lecture outside of school, not so much. There are other ways to give the students time.

12 thoughts on “Explain to Me Again How the Flipped Classroom Is "Revolutionary?"

  1. I know nothing about PBL, genius hour or student choice. I have, however, experimented with a flipped classroom. I teach at a small school where students are very involved and miss class often for various school related activities. I started recording my lessons and posting them on YouTube so when students were absent, they could stay caught up. I started assigning videos as "homework" one or two nights a week and the videos are not more than 15 minutes long. Some kids watch them. Some don't. The ones that do watch actually prefer the video over lecture because they can pause and rewind as much as they need to. The videos aren't the focus of my flip. The increased class time I have for projects, activities, games and just in class practice has totally made it worth it for me.I don't do the flip because its profound or revolutionary. I do it because it makes sense for me and my students and it has improved my teaching. And isn't that what we're all after? I think people are too quick to judge the methods of others just because it's not what they would do in their own classroom…..

  2. My first reaction to your post is that you sound pretty arrogant! Not meaning to be negative but it's very easy to see the faults in something and blow your own horn – believe me, I've been guilty of that and quite undeservedly.People are at where they're at. If flipping the process so that students understand the content before they come to class is going to give more time for that collaboration to happen then how is that a bad thing?One of things I'm realising is that nothing is new under the sun! I'm finding that the technology is helping us refine and actually put into practice all the pedagogies pioneers have blazed in the past.Are you threatened by the phrase, 'revolutionary?' Relax! Enjoy the process you use in your class. Celebrate the teaching and learning that occurs in others classrooms and look to help teachers make a shift through being positive. Pointing and jeering makes you look like a … well. You fill the gaps. It just turns people off.

  3. I do need to apologize to those that take offense. My post is not meant to single out those who choose to flip their classroom, much as we all know; whatever works for each of us works for each o f us. My post is in direct response to how it is proclaimed as revolutionary which then leads to anyone not doing it as being archaic or outdated. That is the point of this post. I always believe in people finding the best way to teach for them to teach that suits both their own personality and those of their students. I obviously did not get this point across strongly enough so I hope this clarifies it. Thank you for reading and leaving comments.

  4. One art teacher I work with has started using video demos in class that play up on the big screen to teach/show students what to do. Students work along with the demo (ex: drawing a sketch, stringing beads together, molding clay) while she moves around to help students. She sees this as a way to (as she puts it) 'clone herself' so she can better individually instruct where needed and move around the room and help students while they work. Other teachers have created playlists of math concepts so students can pull those up when needed while working at their own pace. They also have videos to show how to work out a certain problem as a check for understanding. I don't think either are considered 'flipped' learning…just examples where the videos DURING class help to buy back some teacher time so the teacher can better differentiate.

  5. A lot of common misconceptions of flipped learning come across in this article, and unfortunately it seems Pernille has fallen for them. The biggest is that it is a methodology, or a model of pedagogy. It's actually not, it's an ideology that has many, many different pedagogical models stem from it. The model that each teacher uses will depend on the teacher and their class. You can attack a particular model as not working, but if you do that you aren't attacking the ideology of flipped/online learning, you're merely highlighting faults of one particular way that one particular teacher might integrate that ideology in the wrong way (which of course happens). A shame to read misguided advice.

  6. I think the focus needs to be on giving kids back that time to just be kids. We have to be careful not to let Flipped learning expectations become a huge infringement on their time. Okay, yes, a little bit of homework is good and even necessary for reflection and to solidify learning. But are we trading in that reflective process for the expectation that kids are to watch videos on new material before class? And might students be better served in the classroom where they can seek clarification in real time during a lecture? Just some things here that have got me thinking.I do use some videos in the class as I teach media production. But I do this as supplemental tutorials after I demonstrate how to use the tools, have them follow along and then set them free to work. Because the material requires following simple procedures, these supplemental videos work well. I can't be at 20-odd computers at once to answer questions so the videos are a god-send. I started doing this 16 years ago when I didn't have enough tech equipment in my room. Students worked on 6 different stations of equipment and rotated around the room-video tapes and monitors at every station helped release me to assist with more complex troubleshooting. I never even thought of sending the videotapes home. What if my students didn't have the same access to machines at home? Besides, the videos were better applied "just in time" anyway.

  7. I think that is the most revolutionary purpose of flipping….multiplicity within education. Allowing a teacher to effectively become 2. Video direction for most and one on one support for those that need it during class time. This also provides great leadership opportunities for students that get it to lead…as you said, student led work within PBL is awesome! I believe my current approach is more of a Blended model. I approach student needs individually and use video arsenals when they will help me help more students the way they choose.

  8. It's interesting to see people criticizing you for stating the obvious.The "flipped" classroom isn't new. Sorry. For those of you who are just discovering student-paced or student-led learning, that's great, but the educational practice exists in a historical context. And for those of you just discovering this,please, explore the notion of student-paced learning, a student-driven curriculum, and project-based learning in more detail.But let's be blunt: many people who profess to "flipping" their classroom are using videos much like powerpoints: the ability to choose when the slide advances (or to rewind/fast forward) is not revolutionary.The notion of the "flipped" classroom, done poorly, is really using technology to extend the notion of the teacher as the creator/distributor of knowledge. A "flipped" classroom is not the same as project based learning or a student led curriculum (and, these concepts aren't new either). The fact that a lecture is playing in video form, over a network, outside school hours, is not novel. What we do with it, and how we use it to empower students to carve a path that makes sense to them, has the potential to be revolutionary. But, unfortunately, much of what I see proclaimed as a "flipped" classroom is more like a powerpoint with cleaner transitions.

  9. I have been asking myself many of the same questions that you raise in your post. I teach a 5 / 6 split and we follow an Inquiry Based (Project Based) model as much as possible. I try not to lecture at all. Ever. So I don't understand how making them watch a video of me lecturing at home would be any different than doing it in person. I would rather ask them to find their own information on a certain topic at home, and share it with the class in a meaningful way. But maybe that is also considered "Flipped" learning. I need to look more into this…

  10. I usually flip my classroom for a lesson a day. My students watch me teach while I move around the room as an extra body. I initially felt unsure about the benefits of this until I was at my current school. I have a very challenging set of kiddos who I struggle to get my mini lessons out to, because they talk over me, throw things at me or each other. This way, I can’t get disrupted and can get all of my points out to my students, and we can pause or go back if needed. At the same time, I’m working the room encouraging my students to get their notebooks out and follow along. Most of them are very engaged. I can be funny and not worry about discipline issues while I’m teaching. It has been a lifesaver!

    This would not really be as beneficial to my last population, because they were more respectful and bought into learning more than my current kids. I think this helps my kids who want to learn- but sometimes get robbed of learning because of the behaviors of their classmates and me trying to stop misbehavior.

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