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Posts Tagged ‘flipped classroom

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.

Here are some screenshots of a few things I have been working on.

This is the opening slide of my MobiLearn Asia 2013 presentation.

And this is one is for a panel session at the International Symposium on Technology-Enhanced Learning.

I have also completed the first of five videos for YouTube on the flipped classroom.

I have barely scratched the surface of what I need to do in the weeks to come. It is going to be challenging to keep the balls in the air, but I am going to to make it fun!

In an inservice teacher course I offer to middle managers, I help participants uncover principles of change management by relying on the flipped classroom and video game-based learning (vGBL).

But I have discovered that we can only do so much over so little time. So I am thinking of offering two more electives. Here are two possible blurbs…

Flipped classrooms for middle managers in schools

The flipped classroom is not a new concept. However, it has recently gained some traction in classrooms across the globe because of new possibilities afforded by rapidly evolving technologies. Proponents of flipped classrooms cite increased learner engagement, more timely feedback, and deeper learning due to better use of learner time. But these outcomes are not guaranteed. Participants of this module will uncover theoretical principles of effective classroom flipping and balance these with the rich body of pragmatic advice offered by classroom flippers worldwide. As this module targets middle leaders, an emphasis will be placed on planning and implementing flipped classrooms at cohort level or school level.

Video game-based learning (vGBL) for the middle manager

The 2012 Horizon Report (K-12 edition) highlights game-based learning as a trend that will become more common in education in the next two to three years. However, vGBL is poorly understood and even more poorly implemented. For example, common perceptions about vGBL include using games for low level drill-and-practice, focusing on content-only learning, and that vGBL requires elaborate gaming setups. Participants of this immersive module will uncover principles of effective design and implementation of video game-based lessons as well as emerging issues on vGBL. They may also discover how to augment traditional instruction with game-based strategies. As this module targets middle leaders, an emphasis will be placed on planning and implementing vGBL at cohort level or school level.

The Innovative Educator has created a small buzz by declaring that she is not flipping over the flipped classroom.

I paraphrase her five reasons for not doing so: 1) not all students have the technology, 2) it does not get rid of homework, 3) it does not change bad teaching, 4) students are still grouped in classes and cannot really go at their own pace, and 5) lecturing does not equal learning (basically an elaboration of #3).

We cannot wait for every student do be equipped with the technology. That is not likely to happen, and even if it did, the technology would quickly go obsolete.

Flipping the classroom is not about the technology. It could, however, be a push factor for allowing more technology to be used in schools and at home.

In a flipped classroom, learners are required to do work at home, but it is not the practice portion of learning but the get information part. I’d rather get that information at my own pace and practice when I can ask someone for help. As a parent, I would also like to know what a teacher was saying in class. A flipped classroom enables that.

I fully agree with the points about bad pedagogy. Again, the flipped classroom is not about the technology but about the pedagogy. Flipping the classroom might make teachers rethink the way they teach, but it does not guarantee better teaching.

How about students not being able to truly go at their own pace and follow their interests? Well, that is not what a flipped classroom can do on its own.

The flipped classroom is not a big jolt to industrial age teaching. It is more like a tickle. Those that respond might wake up to the fact that they need to change the way they teach. But it is not going to bring the factory down. The flipped classroom is an evolution, not a revolution.

I begin most of my classes, workshops or talks with this statement: I may talk but you may not be listening. I might lecture but you might not learn anything.

I do this not to make excuses for a bad lecture but to let my audience know that I expect them to be active participants of their own learning. Then I shepherd them to the learning environment I have created for them.

I think that there should only be a few instances when teachers should be required to lecture. These could be telling a compelling story or perhaps laying the groundwork for discovery-oriented learning.

I think that there are few instances when lectures are compelling. One example is the original series of TED talks. Of these, there are the riveting Sir Ken Robinson or Hans Rosling type of talks.

Video source

Video source

Then there are folks like RSA who animate the lectures and these then become fodder for discussion at retreats, meetings, brainstorming events, etc.

Video source

It is not a stretch to see how these can become opportunities to flip classrooms, lectures or presentations. Instead of watching the videos during the event (and essentially attending a lecture), participants could be required to watch the videos beforehand, reflect on them and engage in discussion when face-to-face.

This way human interaction takes place when it should while time and space are also set aside for deeper or more thoughtful reflection.

Like most instructional strategies, the flipped classroom cannot cure all schooling ills. But it does address a basic flaw in teaching.

The flaw is that teachers become accustomed to teaching in a one-size-fits-all manner. They deliver content in class even if the students are not ready to receive it. To create that need or desperation to learn, teachers send their students back with homework.

This seems sound only because it is the established model. People used to believe that the world was flat but that changed when evidence showed otherwise. Likewise, the industrial approach to teaching needs to change in the face of research on how people learn.

Flipping the classroom takes advantage of what technology and people do best.

For example, if content is learnt outside of class with the help of online videos, then students can learn at any time and place where there is Internet access. They go at the speed on one, but instead of the speed being the teacher’s, it is theirs. They are also not just limited to what a teacher provides.

Then the students return to class to do what is traditionally the homework. Here they can learn from their peers, or the teacher can coach and challenge.

But there are some common misconceptions about flipping the classroom. This resource does a good job of explaining what a flipped classroom is and is not, so I’ll just add my two-cents worth.

While online videos of a teacher delivering content seem to be a staple for the first half of a flipped classroom, they are not the only means. Other examples might include web quests, a scavenger hunt in a virtual world, a shared gaming experience, etc.

A flipped classroom is not just self-directed learning (SDL) in its purest sense or learning without the teacher. Teacher is always present is some form, be it via an online video or chat, or tutoring in class.

That said, flipped classrooms in their current implementation (take the use of Khan Academy as the leading example) are not without their drawbacks.

The strategy might not be suitable for all subjects. Teachers who report success seem to come from the Math or Science fraternity. This may be true if Khan Academy is the only repository of videos. It is not if teachers skillfully use or create resources in their own content areas.

I think that a more insidious consequence of a flipped classroom is that it might reinforce didactic teaching. When a classroom is flipped properly, teacher and student roles might change and so might the sequence or strategies.

Flipping one’s classroom is not just about the technology enabling distributed and convenient access to material. It is about reshaping how we teach so that our students learn more meaningfully.

another flip by Hc_07, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License  by  Hc_07 

I’m extending my thoughts on the flipped classroom to what we do at the CeL.

While we are unlikely to prepare, say, some videos before conducting a workshop and focus mostly on addressing user needs during the workshop, there are other ways of flipping workshops.

A typical edtech workshop focuses on the “what” and “how”, e.g., what is this tool and how do I use it. The “why” and “so what” come later, if at all. A flipped workshop would bring these forward.

Instead of presenting the technical how-to, a flipped workshop might start with:

  • a story to share personal or classroom strategy for using a tool
  • the effectiveness of such an integration
  • what some changes in teaching or learning might look like

To elaborate on the last point, one could start a workshop with “Imagine what your classroom might look like if…” or “How would you like your students to learn more effectively if…”. Knowing the “why” or “so what” or just having a stake in the outcome of a workshop is what drives learning.

Workshop participants could then chip in, and while we might not be able to address all the needs, we can highlight the ones your workshop can. The other plus of this strategy is that we find out other related needs and interests.

I think that such a strategy emphasizes pedagogy over technology. Our workshops tend to be perceived as technical training even though we try to highlight the pedagogy. That is because we start with the technical how-tos and move on to the strategies later. If time is tight, the latter get dropped. Emphasizing the instructional strategies first puts the pedagogical horse before the technology cart.

One major complaint about this strategy is that workshop participants have a technological barrier to overcome first. If they do not know how to use a tool, they cannot think about ways to use it. I disagree for at least three reasons.

First, you do not need to know how to fly a plane to imagine what it can or cannot do. Likewise, you need not be an advanced user of a tech tool to see how it might be applied in a classroom context.

Second, a workshop is unlikely to make a participant 100% competent at using a tool. Practice makes perfect and it is after a workshop that participants figure out more meaningful uses of a newly introduced tool.

Third, participants might be introduced to a tool before a workshop or you might take advantage of the fact that some already know how to use it to different extents. So if a tool is to be iPad-based, then for the newbies we provide iPads beforehand and a list of five simple things to do. To the veterans, we ask for some ideas of use.

The practice of flipping a classroom is not new but it probably gained some traction from Salman Khan’s TED talk.

Video source

My curated resources on flipped classrooms are at and Delicious.

The central idea is something like this: Do the school work at home and do the homework in school. But flipping a classroom is not just telling your students to read chapters in advance and discussing them in class later. Almost none of your students will do the readings and the classroom will flip right back to a teacher attempting to deliver or cover content.

No, a flipped classroom might take advantage of what technology (like online videos) and people do best. Learners watch online videos and learn content at their own pace at home. They return to class to practice, discuss and clarify with their peers or teacher.

Inspired by those who have gone before me and successfully flipped their classrooms, I tried something a bit more conservative in my recently concluded MLS118 course [public feed]. I required my participants to flip their final presentations.

I introduced the concept early in the course, provided resources (like the video above) on flipping the classroom and outlined how the flipped presentations might take place.

We stayed true to the basic tenet of a flipped classroom: Explore or learn content outside the confines of time in the classroom. Then use the time in class to deal with problem areas or other relevant issues.

To model this process, I shared a few resources on Edmodo about the flipped classrooms and told my participants to watch and read them. When we next met in class, we clarified issues that emerged on this practice.

Then it was time to put what we learnt together into practice. The final presentations took place in two phases.

In the first phase, my participants prepared online presentations for their peers. Most used Prezi (with embedded YouTube videos) while a few opted for Google Presentations, recorded videos or other platforms.

I divided my class up into groups and required participants to view their group mates’ presentations. I also said that they could view presentations outside their groups.

In the second phase (the very last day of class), my participants critiqued the work of their peers and asked them questions. I think I captured the main point of doing this when I tweeted during the session:

Based on the feedback that I am still collecting from my class, the experience made a big impact. It is one thing to read about and watch what someone else says about flipped presentations. It is another to experience it first hand.

So what are some benefits of the flipped presentations?

  • My participants appreciated the fact that they could go through their peers’ presentations at their own pace
  • They also liked that they had copies of their peers’ presentations online
  • We got through all 14 participants presentations concurrently without feeling like it was a drag
  • We focused on what the audience wanted to hear (by user choice of topic and by focusing on discussion rather than frontal presentation)
  • One presenter was not able to make it due to an urgent commitment in school but he was still able to present, critique and get peer feedback
  • The presenters actually had to “present” a few times; each time they did this, they clarified their doubts or gleaned new perspectives from their “audience”

In the context of a school, the benefits a flipped classroom might include:

  • Using curriculum time more productively for practice, clarification and feedback
  • Greater transparency on what the child is learning

I think that the last point is a very important one. What modern parent hasn’t wondered out loud, “What the heck is your teacher telling you in class?” I ask this all the time!

With a flipped classroom, a parent can experience lesson with the child, and if necessary, reinforce them. If anything at all, the flipped classroom restores or strengthens the relationship between child, parent and school.

Flipping the classroom is something Salman Khan suggested in his TED talk. It’s also known as the Fisch Flip.

Instead of teaching content in the classroom and doing homework at home, Khan practices the opposite. Content is learnt at home via video instruction while practice, problem-solving or consultation is done in class.

Video source wonders out loud if the upcoming showmeapp for the iPad will help teachers flip the classroom with screencaptures. (Thanks to Youfang for sharing this resource on our CeL Diigo group space last week.)

The app alone won’t do that, of course. But teachers who take advantage of the technical affordances of tools like showme in order to prepare lessons for a flipped classroom will.

And that is true for practically any other app or e-tool.


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