Monday, December 3, 2012

Flip: I Say "No."

This was published to the ISTE Communities Site on April 4th, 2012.  After reading it now, and since I've learned more about "Flipping" I would amend some of my comments, but essentially I stand by what I wrote below.

To Flip or not to Flip

No. Flipping your classroom is like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. For most its a waste of time, it does not allow for exploring topics of interest and just changes the order of an already flawed teaching style.

Flip your classroom is very similar to printing off the notes that the teacher used to lecture in class, have students read the notes at home and then come to school to do “homework.” Instead students no longer read the notes but now view a video or some kind of “digital notes.” This is not the definition of technology integration. Some may consider having students doing homework in class as learning by doing, but it's not what constructivists like Vygotsky, Dewey and Montessori had in mind. Once again, with flipping a classroom, teachers are not being constructivists. This is just a different model where the teacher is the leader of the class, disseminating information to students like a farmer feeding chickens.
The problem is flipping the classroom might actually be good for some teachers. It can create a conversation and have the teacher re-evaluate what they do in the classroom, and put real thought into how students learn and if the teacher’s current methods are working. With that said, for most teachers, flipping the classroom is way too low. Teachers can do so much more to create confidence in students, help students to discover their unique abilities and explore topics that students are interested in. For many teachers, going to a flipped classroom from what they already do would be taking a step backward. Many teachers do chemistry labs, go outside to collect data or even photograph a solar eclipse using a weather balloon so that the images are cloud free. To now have students view a video for homework and have them do traditional homework in class would be going from active to compliant learning.
I just spoke with a fourth grade teacher today who collaborated with the schools new media specialists to create what was called a living wax museum. Basically, the media specialist taught kids how to research, write a script, become a character and speak in public. Students had a button on their hands and when the button was pushed they became that character explaining the importance their character had on the world. Some of the living wax museum characters were Amelia Earhart, Eleanor Roosevelt and Martin Luther King. This project was so popular it was later opened to the public and “performed” at the local library. Does this kind of rich learning happen in a flipped classroom? I would argue that it does not.

The flipped classroom takes an already broken, didactic, teacher-lead style and changes the order of a flawed style. We are great at rearranging this flawed teaching method. No matter what we call it we continue to control knowledge as if we were still in the industrial age. It is time we shift from teacher-centered instruction to student-centered learning.