The Flipped Classroom: An Excellent Alternative

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxJgPHM5NYI

I really like the Flipped Classroom concept.  I first discovered it by watching Sal Khan on 60 Minutes discussing his company, the Khan Academy. Students watched a series of videos at home, which explained various concepts—from Economics to Physics—and then participated in activities when they actually came to class.  This provided a lot more time for inquiry-oriented learning, as well as authentic experiences in the classroom. More research needs to be done on Khan Academy and the flipped classroom model on whether it significantly changes test scores.

Jackie Gerstein has asserted that the flipped classroom model is still problematic since classrooms still revolve around the lecture model, albeit at home rather than at school (2012).  She presents alternatives, including a lesson that centers on students’ personal experiences, interactions with other students, and acquiring useful life skills (2012).  This type of lesson appears to require a lot more planning time, and a harder way to present the necessary content for future hands-on experiences.  Overall, this type of lesson is hard to imagine in an everyday classroom setting (i.e., Do you come up with a new hands-on activity and game for every class period?).

Being a moderate thinker in most situations, I would argue for a mix between the traditional lecture format and a classroom model, such Gerstein suggested, that revolves around only hands-on experiential activities.  I believe that the flipped classroom model is a great way to pave the way for a more technology-based educational system; this will benefit future students in the workforce whose jobs might not yet exist.

The major setback to the flipped classroom model is the ACCESS that students have to these online sources.  NBC reported through The Hechinger Report in June that this was the biggest obstacle to flipping the classroom (Butrymowicz, 2012).  Teachers cannot hold their students responsible for homework that requires online access if they do not provide after-school hours in the computer lab; some students, especially in rural areas, still do not have online access (Butrymowicz, 2012).  During the 60 Minutes interview, Khan showed a school that left its computer lab open at night for students to gain access.  This method of allowing students online access can be extremely problematic if you do not have a school police officer present to ensure the safety of the students who visit at night.

Therefore, as a teacher, you could either spend after-school hours to provide your students access or advocate for alternatives.  For example, you could go to your local library and ask to reserve the computers for your students for a certain period of time.  Or, you could apply for grants that encourage technology use in the classroom that would provide laptops or iPads.

Restructuring the current lecture model is at a high need in today’s classrooms, where students need more 21st century skills in order to attain successful careers in the 21st century.  Inquiry-oriented experiences, such as the flipped classroom model, are excellent alternatives to the original lecture-based model, which is quickly becoming outdated.

References

Butrymowicz, S. (2012). Bridging the digital divide in America’s rural schools. The Hechinger Report. Retrieved on October 3, 2012 from: http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/06/20/12303530-bridging-the-digital-divide-in-americas-rural-schools?lite

CBS News Online (2012). Khan Academy: The future of education? Video retrieved on October 4, 2012 from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxJgPHM5NYI&feature=player_embedded

Gerstein, J. (2012). Flipped classroom full picture: an example lesson. Retrieved on October 3, 2012 from: http://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2011/11/20/flipped-classroom-full-picture-an-example-lesson/

Sinha, S. (2011). Does Khan Academy really work? Retrieved on October 4, 2012 from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shantanu-sinha/does-khan-academy-really-_b_946969.html

2 responses to “The Flipped Classroom: An Excellent Alternative

  1. I agree with your suggestion to use a model of teaching and learning that blends both the traditional approach and a flipped classroom. Since I pursing elementary education I feel that a mixture of the two would work the best. I also think that the use of computers and Internet at home will cause a problem because not all students have access to them. I think allowing for students to use computers at or after school or providing the opportunities for them to use a computer somewhere will allow this approach to be beneficial for all students. If this is a school wide approach or district approach then lending students laptops to use would be ideal.

  2. Jill Robinson

    Thank you for including the 60 Minutes clip. I really enjoyed viewing it. I have used Khan Academy’s online videos but I never knew the story behind its creation. I agree that student access to technology is a major hurtle of the flipped classroom. It seems to me that teachers and school administrators would need to be creative to make sure all students have equal opportunity for success. If schools can address access to technology, I think flipped classrooms have great potential.