to integrate a plethora of social media, cell phones and computers into the
classroom. The old idiom, “if you can’t beat them, join them” has never been
Is the flipped classroom a new trend, or a twist on an old standby? Mazur (2013) believes that generations of law students will tell you of their grueling experiences in reading case studies as homework and then using class time to analyze and assimilate their thoughts and ideas with their peers and instructors. It seems that this same basic idea has now been modified to make use of new technology that allows the students to receive lessons via online videos. The flipped classroom pedagogy seems to make good sense in today’s society.
In Educators Evaluate 'Flipped Classroom' by K. Ash, Superintendent Patrick Twomey states the following:
In the current model, one student goes home to educated parents who can help
him with his homework, while another student goes home and gets no help. In
the flipped model, both of those kids come back to the classroom after receiving
the content, and now all of the help with the homework is given by an expert in the
field.” (para. 32 )
The most enlightening and interesting information I read in my research of the flipped classroom was an ongoing blog presented by Jen Ebbeler from the University of Texas. Her blog, Teaching Without Pants: Adventures in Blended Learning (2013), chronicles her ups and downs of implementing a flipped model into her Introduction to Rome class. She has amusing anecdotes, real statistics and useful advice for anyone wanting to explore the possibility of flipping a classroom. She calls herself a “stealth flipper” because she doesn’t advertise to her students that she is operating under the flipped model. She actually uses a hybrid model that she has adapted due to negative experiences in her first attempt at flipping her fall cohort. In this model, she continues to do mini-lectures, as she has found that it is difficult to flip a classroom completely.
Adult learners have been educated to date by traditional means. Ms. Ebbeler found that the transition to a flipped model, when done abruptly, seemed to leave many of her students dis-oriented and confused by expectations. Her solution was to offer them the comfort of lecture-style learning, while quietly increasing peer discussions, video lessons and group discussions. Ms. Ebbeler's advice is to make the change quietly, create meaningful in-class work and constantly adjust your model to meet the diverse needs of the adult learners.
Whether learning through research, group work, peer discussions, or activities, at some point in any learning process an instructor must ensure that a transfer of information occurs so students have accurate lessons moving forward. If the main source of information is online videos that students are expected to watch as homework, aren’t they still being subjected to a lecture of one form or another? Has the style of learning actually changed, or just the location of the lesson?
The students still need a reason and motivation to engage in the process. In Educators Evaluate 'Flipped Classrooms' by K. Ash, Mr. Musallam of the University of San Francisco (2012) argues that the idea of viewing videos at home is “really just a better version of a bad thing” (para. 8). He has adapted ideas from the flipped classroom framework, but doesn’t feel that, when used alone, they really meet all students’ needs.
Also in K. Ash's Educators Evaluate 'Flipped Classrooms,' Deb Wolf (2012), an instructional coach from South Dakota, talked about using flipped learning and the mastery technique to facilitate classes. She concluded, from her initial use of these methods, that “self-paced became no pace” (para. 24). She adapted her program by setting deadlines, but allowing keen students to work ahead. The deadlines helped set realistic expectations for those students who would normally move much slower. In her experiences, the reluctant learners remained reluctant whether she used traditional methods or the flipped classroom.
Ian Richardson, a reader of E. Mazur's, The Flipped Clasroom Will Redefine the Role of
Educators (2013) commented:
I wonder how many students have the self-discipline to prepare notes outside of lecture
time to bring to the classroom. An engaged classroom with lively discussion will provide
students with a good learning experience, certainly, but it requires them to first become
engaged on their own." (Web Log Comment)
The trend towards flipped classrooms is still growing and evolving. Online blogs and tentative tracking by instructors attempting this model indicate that this method may be more successful in engaging the adult learner than the traditional pedagogy.
References & Resources
Ash, K. (2012, November 27). Educators Evaluate 'Flipped Classrooms'. Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/08/29/02el-flipped.h32.html.
Ebbeler, Jen. (2013, June 18). Adventures in Blended Learning. Retrieved from http://teachingwithoutpants.blogspot.ca/.
Mazur, E. (2013, March 13). The Flipped Classroom will redefine the role of educators. [Audio interview transcription] Retrieved from http://www.evolllution.com/distance_online_learning/audio-flipped-classroom-redefine-role-educators-10-years/.
Richardson, I. (2013,March 13). The Flipped Classroom With Redefine the Role of Educators. [Web Log Comment]. Retrieved fromhttp://www.evolllution.com/distance_online_learning/audio-flipped-classroom-redefine-role-educators-10-years/.