Webinar: The Flipped Classroom

[learn more about this webinar]

[ARCHIVE: The webinar was recorded and the archive is now available for viewing (65 minutes). Want to continue the discussion? Look over the resources below and then click on the Discussion tab at the top of this page!]

Despite its now-famous Dan-Pink-sponsored affiliation with our esteemed colleague, Karl Fisch, is the 'flipped classroom' a true innovation or just a new label on the old stale wine of lectures? Is it something we should be encouraging or discouraging? If it has benefits, are they worth the accompanying drawbacks? Please join us for a lively, 1-hour online discussion about the 'flipped classroom.'

While Dan Pink's article might have been noticed by the 200 of us who notice such things, I (this is Karl) think clearly the reason we're having this discussion is due to the recent notoriety of Salman Khan and Khan Academy, so perhaps we can dispense with the "esteemed colleague" part above :-). Below are some quick resources I put together for a brief discussion a while back in my district. Please note that these were put together quickly, there are undoubtedly many more resources that could be added (please add them yourself), and there has certainly been some good writing done since I compiled these (add those as well). But, for folks that might want to investigate this further after the discussion, this might give you a place to start.

A series of blog posts (part 1, 2, 3 and 4) by Sylvia Martinez (plus one from Frank Noschese, make sure you read through the comments as well) that makes a strong argument about not flipping your classroom. I agree with about 95% of what Sylvia and Frank say in their posts. And yet . . . I still think there's a place for flipping in some classrooms for two main reasons:
  1. The reality of our curriculum. There is simply not enough time to "cover" the curriculum we are tasked with and do it with a completely constructivist, inquiry-based approach. While I certainly am involved in discussions to try to change our curriculum, in the meantime I'm trying to split the difference - have inquiry and exploration as much as possible in the classroom, but freeing up time for that by assigning the videos outside of class. Certainly not perfect but, without the videos, I wouldn't have time for much inquiry at all.

  2. I think there are some algorithms that it is helpful to know pretty well and master, even if they are algorithms that students have not completely constructed themselves (standing on the shoulders of giants idea). I think flipped videos can play a role here. (For example, the idea/algorithm of doing the inverse operation in Algebra in order to solve equations.)

I could be wrong about both of these, so read Sylvia and Frank's posts carefully - they are both pretty smart.

Technology I Use
You need some technology to do this, but you don't necessarily have to spend a lot of money (or conceivably any money, I used stuff we already had.)

  1. You need a way to record your computer screen. I use Camtasia, which is a high end software solution, but you don't have to (we already had a copy of it for creating tutorials/screencasts). Since every building (LPS) has at least one Smart Board, the Smart Recording software that comes with it works and would be free. The downside is you don't have any editing capability.

  2. You need audio input capability. I use a $30 USB headset (which, again, we already had), but you can get away with using the microphone that's built into many computers. If you want to record live lectures (in front of a class), you'll probably want to get a high quality, wireless lapel microphone.

  3. I use Smart Board software for what I do on the screen, but you can record anything (PowerPoint, Google Docs, whatever is on the screen). I did everything on my computer for the vodcasts, but you could of course actually use the physical Smart Board. A tablet computer would be nice in order to create with handwriting/sketching without being at the Smart Board.

  4. You need a place to host the videos. I chose YouTubeexternal image t_mini-a.pngexternal image t_mini-a.png and Wikispacesexternal image t_mini-a.pngexternal image t_mini-a.png, which cost nothing. You can also deliver the videos to students via flash drives/DVD's.

  5. You most likely need a place to host the class in general (to post not only the videos, but all other stuff). This year I chose a Bloggerexternal image t_mini-a.pngexternal image t_mini-a.png blog, but you could choose a Google Site (or Wikispaces) instead.

  6. Additional technologies to consider if you want to have online office hours: webcam, skype, elluminate/whiteboard/other, tablet-type device, Google Apps, etc.

Salman Khan TED Talk

What questions should we discuss during our webinar? Put your suggestions here!
  • It seems like a daunting task to create ones own video lectures, particularly if one is teaching several courses. What would be your recommendations for doing this?
  • What happens if all teachers do this. Are we expecting a student to spend hours watching videos every night?
    • OPERATIONAL DEFINITION needed, in my opinion.
  • ** ?? Will you distinguish flipped classes in high school vs college?
    • How does flipping the class enhance the class time you spend with students?
    • How can you leverage a backchannel outside of class?

  • How does one account for the additional time spent in the evenings?
  • Why do we think we own student's time in after-school hours?
  • I'm suspicious that this getting so much attention in this anti-teacher climate. Is it politically motivated?
  • Are you willing flip the hours as well? Three hours during the day and six hours at night?
  • When a student has not watched the lecture will they be allowed to consume the majority of the teachers time?
  • Will the teachers use the other three daylight hours to prepare the next lecture?
  • What will the class schedule be? Three hours divide by six or seven periods?
  • How will the advanced placement student get access to tutoring?
  • Is it reasonable to hamstring technology with the old pedagogy of lecture/homework?
  • How does this facilitate learning among disparate classmates?
  • Should you not take the next step which is Author-ware facilitated mastery education augmented by online/site based tutoring.
  • How does flipping fit with the Learning Cycle (Explore, Explain, Apply)?
  • What does flipping look like in an inquiry-centered classroom?
  • Are there benefits that can be achieved ONLY through flipping?
  • From Dan Meyer: "The goalposts on this debate are unbelievable. On one side of the field, video lectures. On the other side, teacher lectures. Except in the case of rank incompetence (where the teacher-of-record couldn't possibly compete with a video lecture) we are playing on the wrong field." Thoughts? What's the right field?
  • How does flipping fit with the anti-homework crowd?
  • What are the top five reasons why teachers and administrators are resistive to this construct?
  • How do you guard against death by videos?
  • How does flipping help student-teacher interaction?
  • Is it true that in the flipped class teachers can talk to every student in every class every day?
  • There seems to be an anti-lecture thread going on this wiki: is there a proper time for lecture (via video or live)? Are there instances where the flip makes sense and instances where it should not be used?
  • How do you see this concept working in an elementary school?
  • So much of a good lecture comes from questions and discussions along the way, do you fear that some of that inquiry and engagement on the topic might be lost?
  • Are students going to do this? Isn't homework still homework?
  • How do we model "flip" concepts with professional development so teachers experience flip?
  • If lecture is a passive process during school for kids and adults, what makes it palatable at home?