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More than semantics

Posted on: December 18, 2017

Integrity is not completely synonymous with honesty.

Honesty is what you have in the presence of others or when you are confronted to tell the truth. You are asked to be honest when you make a statement or if you take the stand in court.

Integrity is what you have (or lack) when you are alone. Take academic integrity, for instance. It is when you are trying to write a paper that you decide whether or not to plagiarise or to attribute. You might think of integrity as confronting yourself.

However you define honesty and integrity, they share some similarities, but they are also different. They are not entirely synonymous and that is why we have different words.

The same could be said about the flipped classroom and flipped learning. After years of combining reflective practice and critical research, I distilled two big differences between the two.

The flipped classroom swaps WHAT happens WHERE. Flipped learning changes WHO does WHAT.

  1. The flipped classroom swaps WHAT happens WHERE. Flipped learning changes WHO does WHAT.
  2. The flipped classroom focuses on engagement. Flipped learning is more about learner empowerment.

The flipped classroom focuses on engagement. Flipped learning is about learner empowerment.

The flipped classroom is still defined by what happens conventionally in a classroom. The delivery and exploration of information still needs to happen, but in a different place and manner — for example, at home. The use or practice of that information happens in the classroom where peer and expert help is, instead of outside it.

To those ends, there is nothing wrong with the flipping the classroom. However, that is to “innovate” by iteration. Teachers are still doing much of the teaching, and subsequently, the learning.

To flip learning is to focus on the learner and processes of deep learning. This means empowering students to problem-seek and problem-solve. It also means that learners create content and teach it. The teacher learns to guide from the side and to meddle from the middle.

The flipped classroom and flipped learning might share some roots and tools, e.g., the nurturing of self-directed learners and online videos. But these do not make the terms interchangeable.

Chimpanzees and man share a distant evolutionary ancestor (shared roots), but they are different animals because they diverged over millennia to where they are now. The flipped classroom and flipped learning are different animals because their practices stem from different mindsets, expectations, and educational philosophies. It is not about semantics; it is about different foundations upon which we build teaching practices.

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