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Why is it so 'flipping' controversial? The flipped classroom under discussion...

It's an oldie by goodie - so here's the flipped classroom discussion revisited.

You may be already using a flipped approach with your learners; you may just be interested in finding out more; or you may be fed up with hearing about what appears to be an overhyped use of videos that reinforce a traditional paradigm of education. All of these points of view are reflected in Shelley Wright's post, The flip: end of a love affair, and the dynamic conversation that follows. In her post Shelley reflects that her "brief love affair with the flip has ended. It simply didn’t produce the transformative learning experience I knew I wanted for my students".

She identifies the flipped classroom as, essentially reversing "traditional teaching. Instead of lectures occurring in the classroom and assignments being done at home, the opposite occurs. Lectures are viewed at home by students, via videos or podcasts (found online or created by the teacher), and class time is devoted to assignments or projects based on this knowledge". You may not agree with Shelley's take on the flipped classroom described here, but it is well worth reading the rest of her post. She may not have found that flipped classrooms as she perceives them as being transformative for her students, but they certainly seem to have been a catalyst for Shelley to shift her own practice, and in turn tailor an approach that really suits her students...and her.


I highly recommend you read the whole post, but as a taster, here's an excerpt:

The flip is gone for good

While I may not have intentionally removed the flip from my classroom, I would never resurrect it. Here’s why:

1) I dislike the idea of giving my students homework. Really? Yes. Students spend over five hours a day engaged in academic pursuits. I think that is enough. Recently I’ve been reading Alfie Kohn’s book The Homework Myth. He has mined the research on homework thoroughly, and — overwhelmingly — it shows that homework has no long-term impact on academic achievement. That’s likely shocking to some teachers.

But beyond this, I think there’s more to life than being engaged in academics. Students need to participate in a variety of pursuits — sports, music, drama, meaningful jobs — to fully develop all of their talents and discover areas of interest. Furthermore, students need to spend time with their families. What right do I have impinge on this?

2) A lecture by video is still a lecture. This summer I had the opportunity to speak with a superintendent from a division outside of my own. He was curious about the flipped classroom. We were with a group of educators and he asked if anyone present had used it. Since I was the teacher with the most experience with it, I spoke about what it looked like in our classroom. Mostly I talked about inquiry learning and student choice.

At the end, he looked at me and said, “So the videos — did you make your own, or use ones that someone else had made?” My immediate thought was, “you don’t get it.” I was candid: “If you think it’s only about the videos, then you have a really shallow definition of what this could be. The real power is when students take responsibility for their own learning.”

Of course, the reality is that many if not most teachers who opt for the flipped classroom strategy are not pursuing a student-centred approach to teaching and learning. The traditional model of learning is simply being reversed, instead of being reinvented. The lecture (live or on video) is still front and center.

Learning isn’t simply a matter of passively absorbing new information while watching a lecture on video; new knowledge should be actively constructed. When we shifted to a student-centred classroom, my students took control of their learning, and I quit lecturing. I haven’t lectured in almost two years.

3) I want my students to own their learning.  It’s been stated that “At its most basic level, the flipped classroom gives students more control over their educations, allowing them to start and stop or rewind important lectures to focus on key points.”  To me, this isn’t giving students control over their education, although it may be creating new markets for content-oriented videos and related materials.

In our classroom, we sit down with the curriculum, and students actually see what the outcomes and objectives are. We then have a dialogue about what my students’ learning might look like. They have a choice over what order they are going to work on outcomes, how they are going to learn and reach those outcomes, and how they are going to show me what they have learned.

As my students worked with me to invent our own version of student-centred learning, we realized that the three questions every student in our classroom had to answer were: What are you going to learn? How are you going to learn it? How are you going to show me your learning? This became our mantra — our framework for learning.  This is what it means to give students “control over their education.”

4) My students need to be able to find and critically evaluate their own resources.  Consequently, if I’m continuously handing them resources, they are not going to learn this skill. It’s more important for my students to learn to learn than to absorb the content in any video I might make and hand to them, with most of the thinking already done for them.

To find out the approach that Shelley developed and the results she had, please visit her post The Flip: End of a Love Affair


'Flipped His Lid' - Found on

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Comment by Leigh Hynes on November 3, 2012 at 13:56

Like most brief love affairs, there was no commitment.

It sounds like the pedagogy behind the "flip" in this case  was simply lacking.

1.Flip is not just homework.  Flip can be used in the classroom, without any homework, just as easily.

2.  Its not just a lecture by video.  How many teachers still try to be the font of all knowledge?  Flip is to help different learners use the video as a tool to be able to re-examine some concepts without having to ask the teacher again and again, but without the cost of a text book.

3.  Choice can so easily be given with flip.  4 to 5 videos online is a far better use of teacher classroom time that going through it all in class.

4. How rich a learning experience is it to critically examine several you tubes on the same thing and see which gives you fact, which gives opinion and which is purely misinformation?  How well does that teach students that they need to evaluate and select.

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