Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Is it Worth Flipping?

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently released a collection of articles and blogs surrounding the topic of flipping the classroom.  In "A Guide to the Flipped Classroom" (which can be downloaded here) the Chronicle attempts to give multiple viewpoints on the flipped classroom and even goes so far as to provide a working definition of "flipped learning" versus just providing outside virtual lectures or reading.

This discussion brought back memories of my masters program and the concept of Participation Training proposed by Bergevin & McKinley.  In their framework, they suggested that social gatherings outside of class (of course they were writing in the 1960's so technology has replaced the in person social gatherings in many ways) to build a community and relationships, along with pre-work and study, allowed for class time to be maximized for the real work of solving problems with micro lectures when necessary to check for understanding.  While a lot of this is not new information, it is presented here nicely.

I would encourage you to read all of the articles, regardless of your experience with flipping.  Here are a few of the takeaways being argued from my perspective:

Pros
  • Student questions and misconceptions can be addressed in real-time by faculty.
  • Students can rely on peers to assist if they are unclear on the concept.
  • Lecture does not go away, but changes in a way that is accessible and approachable when dealing with different learning styles (i.e. being able to rewind and replay lectures)
  • Faculty can better assess student progress and understanding and alleviate some of the frustration surrounding what would normally be homework.
  • Students can learn to apply skills and increase knowledge transfer, versus just recalling information given to them by faculty.
Cons
  • Students may not be able to fully form questions and faculty may need more time to better assess student understanding.  This cannot always be done "just in time."
  • Students may push back because of what is perceived (rightly or wrongly) as uncertain requirements for grading.  They may even perceive it as a shirking of responsibility by faculty.
  • There is a tremendous time commitment involved in flipping a course.  Recording lectures and creating various "out of class assignments" can be overwhelming.
  • If videos from other sources are used for lecture (i.e. speakers other than the professor), there is a risk of students bonding with the lecturer on video versus the professor actually teaching the course.
  • Flipping a course may not be less expensive and in some cases may not improve student outcomes.
Again, these are just some of the arguments made.  I would love to hear from others who have either flipped and love it, decided not to flip, or tried it and abandoned the approach.  What are your thoughts?

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