News

Flipped learning: A response to five common criticisms

By Alan November and Brian Mull
March 26th, 2012

One of the reasons this debate exists is because there is no true definition of what “flipped learning” is.

Over the past few years, the Flipped Learning method has created quite a stir. Some argue that this teaching method will completely transform education, while others say it is simply an opportunity for boring lectures to be viewed in new locations.

While the debate goes on, the concept of Flipped Learning is not entirely new. Dr. Eric Mazur of Harvard University has been researching this type of learning since the early ’90s, and other educators have been applying pieces of the Flipped Learning method for even longer.

It’s our opinion that one of the reasons this debate exists is because there is no true definition of what Flipped Learning is. The method is often simplified to videos being watched at home and homework being done at school. If this is the definition, then we should all be skeptical. Instead, we should look closer at Dr. Mazur’s work. The components he includes in his implementation make for a thoughtful, rigorous experience.

Dr. Mazur has a video describing his integrated Flipped Learning and Peer Instruction methods, but the major points are:

  • Students prepare for class by watching video, listening to podcasts, reading articles, or contemplating questions that access their prior knowledge.
  • After accessing this content, students are asked to reflect upon what they have learned and organize questions and areas of confusion.
  • Students then log in to a Facebook-like social tool, where they post their questions.
  • The instructor sorts through these questions prior to class, organizes them, and develops class material and scenarios that address the various areas of confusion. The instructor does not prepare to teach material that the class already understands.
  • In class, the instructor uses a Socratic method of teaching, where questions and problems are posed and students work together to answer the questions or solve the problems. The role of the instructor is to listen to conversations and engage with individuals and groups as needed.

With the above framework in mind, we tapped Twitter to learn what educators say are the downsides to implementing the Flipped Learning method, and we have provided our opinions that address the five major criticisms.

Implementing the Flipped Learning method makes me, as the teacher, much less important.

This could not be further from the truth! In a Flipped Learning environment, the teachers are more important than ever.