The Other Side of the Flipped Classroom

When people talk about flipping their classrooms, the conversation seems to focus on moving certain used-to-be-classroom activities (namely chalk & talk) from class-time to home-time using videos, screencasts and podcasts.   That is one side of the flipped classroom model.

The flip-side of the model though, is what to do with the extra time created in the classroom.

Mainstream, traditional flipped-classroom advocates would have students doing their ‘homework’ in class time, assisted by their teacher who is now untethered from the whiteboard and able to work one-to-one with students, each completing individual self-paced work.  It does make sense.  If they are going to be completing individual homework anyway, this is better than doing so alone at night when there is no help available when they are stuck.

If we are not careful though, I think the danger here, is that class-time could become boring, both for teacher and the students.

I’m a champion for the flipped classroom model (at least for my version of it).  But I don’t want to see teacher-led discussions fall out of favour altogether.  A skilled classroom teacher can make a live “talk” inspiring for students.  I still explain some topics to students in class.  The critical thing is to purposefully discern which topics lend themselves to being automated in a podcast or vodcast, and which will be more enchanting if explained ‘live’.

More importantly, now that we have freed up class time by automating much of our talking time, I would like to see class-time used for more than “doing homework assignments”. When people are together it makes sense to take advantage of their togetherness.  I would prefer to see more small-group discussions, more debates, more role-plays, modelling activities, practical activities, experiments and creative presentations by students.  Activities like these are engaging because they are interactive and social.

Automating routine explanations gives us the opportunity to make our classrooms more participatory, more experimental, more human.  It would be a real shame if instead they became more dull.


8 thoughts on “The Other Side of the Flipped Classroom

  1. Reblogged this on VUC eLearning Plan and commented:
    More on the Flipped Classroom approach – Douchy makes the, perhaps obvious, point that it’s any potential change to teaching practice like this has to be extending and improving learners’ learning experience. Overall course design comes first. (At least that’s the way I read it!).

    • Yes, course design… and the magic that happens when students and teachers interact with each other in ways that build trust, respect and loyalty – sometimes you can’t design that kind of relationship – but with time, you can nurture it.

      • Point taken Andrew – the teacher-student relationship is the key – I was looking to focus on the idea that any innovation needs to be seen in a broader context of whole course design that takes into account the whole learning experience – not on the mastery of tools. I can see I need to be more explicit! Cheers, Bob

      • Oh yes but your point about course design is very valid. So much of what we do we do because we have always done it that way. In this second decade, I think we need to really look at what we do, and plan our courses and teaching strategies purposefully so that they maximise the effectiveness of the learning that happens inside the classroom and out of it. Thanks for your comments Bob 🙂

  2. Totally agree with you here Andrew. Despite the negative image that often gets painted of teachers actually “teaching”, there is still a huge need for the direction and guidance of the teacher in the classroom. The class discussions, debates, role plays, exemplars… they all play a valuable role and can’t all be replaced by a video or a podcast. The wise educator knows when to use one over the other, as you say.
    It’s true that any teacher who can be replaced with a video or a podcast probably should be!

    • Thanks for your comments Chris. Yes If any teacher thinks that the value they bring to the classroom is knowledge, I’m afraid to say they are already redundant.

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