Why Do the Media (and Some Educators) Need to see the Flipped Classroom as a Black and White, Do or Don’t Proposition? It Isn’t.
I’m getting tired of the media’s seeming requirement to paint the use of flipped teaching tools, techniques, and concepts as some sort of black and white, right or wrong idea. This also goes for some educators who leverage social media and choose to focus on the flipped classroom as a trend that needs to be weighed and “put in it’s place”. My request to those digital purveyors of opinion is, “Please don’t paint flipped teaching ideas and techniques with a ‘black and white’ brush – they are clearly more nuanced than that”.
Many of these ideas – blended learning, active learning, having students learn at home (i.e. read a text book), and so on, have been around for a while (some for a very long time). The flip isn’t some radical new idea, it’s just a somewhat fresh way of grouping some teaching and learning ideas together and better leveraging the digital tools at our disposal in this modern age.
A key intended benefit of the flip is to provide more time for active learning pursuits in the classroom. I elaborated on this in this recent article on EmergingEdTech, “Flipping the Classroom Facilitates Active Learning Methods – Experiential, Project Based, Problem Based, Inquiry Based, Constructivism, Etc.“. Most educators seem to agree that active learning is a good thing, and there are significant bodies of evidence supporting this.
My online workshops and book on flipped instruction seek to embrace that fact that these are simply techniques and tools that can be leveraged as instructors see fit. I advocate using them only to the extent that makes sense for a given course/subject/grade level. For example, in a recent online workshop I had a number of Kindergarten, First, and Second Grade teachers, and my recommendation to them was to consider only offering digital content for consumption outside of school on the weekend – keep it to just one ‘flipped class’ a week, for a variety of reasons (parents need to facilitate access, some students in that district did not have ready access at home. etc.).
It saddens me to see how often people are seeing the idea of flipped instruction techniques as an all-or-none approach, or even worse, as anything remotely akin to replacing the teacher. They are missing the point of the benefits of the tools and techniques being used. If you believe that flipped teaching makes sense and has benefits, I hope you will deliver this message when you come across those who insist on seeing it as something it is not.