Sunday, June 17, 2012

Flip This! The big picture

In my explorations of flipped teaching, I came across this outstanding post by Catlin Tucker called "Flipped Classroom: Beyond the Videos". In reading this post and the comments that followed, I was presented with some interesting thoughts about the flipped classroom.

One idea that stuck in my mind came from Expat Educator in her post She states that "...educators [need to] start talking more about Flipped Lessons than Flipped Classrooms". This may seem like splitting hairs, but I think it is an importnat distinction. Teachers don't have to, and probably shouldn't, use the flipped format for all lessons. You don't have to flip everything, but rather flip specific lessons that are appropriate to flip. I myself made this distinction when teaching this past semester. There was some content that I was comfortable having students view at home, but some content was much better to explore within the classroom. 

Another idea that stuck out came from Catlin Tucker's post, she pointed out that Ramsey Musallam defines “flip teaching” as “leveraging technology to appropriately pair the learning activity with the learning environment". This is a much different definition than most people would use for flipped teaching. It is important to note that in this definition, Ramsey doesn't mention anything about videos. Videos will not always be the most appropriate technology, and sometimes it may not even include a computer. 

She also stresses that the goal of flipped lessons should be to shift from "consumables" to "produceables". In today's society, students need to be able to produce in order to be successful. Unfortunately, flipped teaching usually focuses on the consumable portion of the lesson. 

Catlin argues that in order to focus less on the videos and move more towards "produceables" we should:

1. Take advantage of the ready-to-use content available.
2. Don’t just show them.
3. Use the flipped model to create a student-centered classroom. 

My responses to these statements are:

1. I used my own content, but I do see value in using ready-to-use content. Many teachers are hesitant to use the method because of all the video creation involved. The nice thing about your own content is that it all comes from the perspective that you want to portray. As an educational technologist, I now recognize added benefits to using other content because it is an opportunity to teach media literacy skills to students alongside the lesson content. 

2. Involving higher order thinking skills into the at-home portion of the lesson is great, but this now leads back to the issue of students struggling to complete homework without a support network. Perhaps online discussions could be embedded into the at-home portion, or the students' struggles with that at-home portion could be used as part of Just-in-Time Teaching (see 

3. The flipped model must be used to create a student-centered classroom. If not, then it is not really changing anything. Jackie Gerstein's post The Flipped Classroom Model: A Full Picture does a great job exploring the full picture of flipped teaching. Her post includes a great visual that shows the four parts to a great lesson and shows that the at-home Concept Exploration portion is just one small part of the big picture. 

A good lesson begins with an experiential engagement, then concept exploration (the flipped portion), students' meaning making and then leads to students demonstrating and applying. If we just focus on the video-viewing portion and not spending time on the other three portions, then we are not “leveraging technology to appropriately pair the learning activity with the learning environment". 

The tone of this post may sound like I am talking down on flipped teaching. This is not the case, but rather I am critically exploring all sides of the method. I feel like perhaps I have jumped on the bandwagon without thinking enough about the "produceables" and the big picture of flipped teaching.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad to see you exploring this refinement to what it means to "flip". I've been a little uncomfortable from the beginning with the singular notion that flipping = video at home; activities in the classroom. This broader approach makes better sense to me, and also suggests that almost all of us can flip our classroom to some extent. The idea of flipped lessons instead of classrooms also strikes me as eminently reasonable. Nice job of situating your own work, and the idea that if it doesn't result in a more student-centred classroom, it is not really changing anything.