Flipped learning: A response to five common criticisms


If they have provided students with an array of rich resources and have set up opportunities for students to think deeply and question what they have learned at home before coming to class, these teachers are going to see that there are a wide array of new questions that arise that might never have come up during a standard class period. In these cases, teachers are really going to need to know their stuff, and they are going to need to be able to individualize on the fly—quite possibly five, 10, or even 20 times in a class period.

Also, teachers are also going to need to figure out the right questions to ask when students come to class. These questions should have students address their misconceptions about and apply their knowledge concerning what they have learned on their own. During a conversation with Dr. Mazur, he shared that this is the most difficult, but also the most crucial, part.

In addition to providing an avenue for students to access their learning material at home, technology will play a crucial role for the teacher in the coming years. Smart systems are currently being designed that are going to help teachers learn more about their classes than ever before. For example, Dr. Mazur’s Learning Catalytics software allows students to engage with application problems during class. Students respond to these problems using their individual laptops, smart phones, and tablets. The system then keeps track of all responses and intelligently points students to other classmates with whom they can debate their responses. The system records all of the responses over the entire span of the course, allowing a teacher to visualize the learning and the struggles of all students.

Kids do not want to sit at home watching boring video lectures on the web. At least in the classroom, they get some kind of interaction with me and with their peers. This is just a lot of excitement over bad pedagogy.

We completely agree that simply watching a boring lecture video will not get kids excited about this process. However, is the fact that there are bad examples of lecture videos a problem with the model—or with the implementation of the model?

Certainly, there are opportunities to improve these resources in ways that ramp up interaction and pedagogy. To begin, do not replace an hour-long classroom lecture with an hour-long video. Audio and video should be used in short, five- to 10-minute segments, and there should be opportunities for students to interact with the information in these videos in a variety of ways. Some teachers are experimenting with unique ways of doing this. For example, by including links within YouTube videos, Jac De Haan demonstrates how a teacher can basically quiz students and provide them with immediate feedback and explanation within the same video. Ramsey Musallam also has a method he uses that combines video clips with Google Forms to gather feedback from his students. Both of these methods can be used as part of a cycle of inquiry.

Also, give students a voice in this process. Provide them with several videos made by different teachers who present with different styles. Ask students to evaluate what they like and what they do not like. Have students produce video that teaches some of the content being taught in class. Look at what they do that excites or turns off their classmates. Over time, you will learn what has the biggest impact, and your students will appreciate having the opportunity to have their voices heard.

Make sure you provide more than just video. You are going to have students who want to watch video, but you are also going to have students who would rather look at a concept map or read a bit of text. Mix it up and keep your students guessing. You do not have to have all of this material from the start; you can build your library over time.

We all know how students like to interact with one another as well. Challenge students to create Skype study groups that meet on occasion to discuss their thinking on topics about which they are learning. Have them reflect on how these discussions are changing their thinking.

Finally, keep your eye out for the amazing resources that we are going to gain access to over time. For example, there is initial work being organized by Chris Anderson who runs the famous TED conference and website to create educational resources tapping some of the best minds in the world.

Most of my kids do not even have internet access at home. There’s no way they can watch all of this video.

While this statement is true in many places, there are a variety of options in how these resources can be shared with students.

Want to share a great resource? Let us know at submissions@eschoolmedia.com.

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