Flipped classroom

There’s this topic that’s making the rounds here: the flipped classroom. I’ve been approached with this because the university wants me to record some of my lectures to roll into the flipped classroom implementation, and then offer my class next semester (I have one in the Spring and one in the Fall) as a flipped one. If you’re not familiar (neither was I), this is the idea: I video record my lectures and borrow videos from other sites (think Khan Academy) for a whole semester. The students watch these lectures before class (BORING) and then we work together to apply the material during the designated class time to do homework and activities to reinforce. This is as opposed to seeing the lecture in real life (instead of the video), then applying the knowledge after class. I guess there are other models like this, but this is the gist that I got. I’ve been told that more students pass classes and there are fewer ethics violations as a results of this. Now, as a person I’m pretty skeptical of almost everything in my life, so I put some thought into this.

Regarding passing and ethics violations, my thought is if we’re allowing everyone to work together then there’s no need to cheat, so I don’t really trust that. For the passing, my thought is that if they’re doing the work together they’ll get the same, hopefully correct, answers so of course they should be more likely to pass. But that’s me being critical. Maybe the tests (which I’m guessing are done solo) are showing higher scores? Part of the idea behind different teaching methodologies is that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all method. So to combat this, they create a singular type of teaching methodology to fit all.  Clever.

From my experience, the most difficult-to-comprehend topics required the instructor in front of the class, and allowing us all to have a dialogue to ask questions in the moment. What if a student is watching my lecture and has a question? My guess is they have to write it down, then when we have an in-class exercise, I can answer. I have nothing against this method, but I prefer a dynamic conversation during the first lecture then if they have issues during the application of said work, they can either work together or come to office hours. What I envision is students “learning” via my videos then me having to re-teach. It puts the owness on them earlier rather than later, and all it means is that I can’t have a group conversation about, say, an issue that all of them are having. I know I learned when sitting in a lecture and taking information in, taking diligent notes, and asking the professors relevant questions during class. Then I would take that information and learn deeper on my own. On top of this, I worked a bunch of jobs in college and I guarantee there would have been times when I would not have had time prior to a lecture to watch the lecture. I would often have to carve out a giant chunk of time to do a bunch of classes’ homework all at once at the end of the week.

Plus, the screen time. Don’t we stare at screens enough? This sounds like an online class with mandatory office hours. When I lecture I do use a decent amount of supplementary videos to further emphasize my points, and post more links to videos on Canvas. I mentioned the only way I would do this is if class was even more optional (I don’t take attendance). The education gurus telling me how to teach didn’t like that comment. If I was teaching more introductory classes, maybe I wouldn’t care as much as those topics are far easier to grasp, but something about an advanced topic being an online class doesn’t sit right with me. Again, I’m sure that I’m incredibly wrong, and there are passionate flipped classroom people out there, and I don’t mean to offend, but I haven’t heard a good case for it (though I’m willing to listen). I’m sure that I’m just being a crotchety person set in my ways, but I’m just not a fan.


2 thoughts on “Flipped classroom

  1. I’m not a fan either. I’ve had students in follow-on courses after some flipped ones and they don’t know shit. I teach courses with a lot of physics and most students don’t know how to set up problems; you can’t teach that in a flipped format. A human has to both show how it’s done and answer questions on the spot and a human also has to mark up exams and homework to draw attention to problems.

    And don’t get me started on the ridiculousness of you can try several times to get the right answer; what bullshit.

    Students themselves will tell you that flipped are easy As and those who are serious about learning tend to avoid them.

    Obligatory disclaimer: Maybe they work for some people and courses blahblah, but they are being pushed so relentlessly that I am now against them just as relentlessly. They are being pushed so we can “serve” (admin words) more students due to increasing enrollments without money for more instructors or TAs (because you can get away with ultracheap undergrad student assistants who help walk around and answer questions).

    Whenever something is being pushed mercilessly, it’s because someone wants to cut costs at the expense of our core mission. It makes me really disillusioned with academia.


    • So today one admin actually told me that this is a great bridge to having entirely online programs for students to get their BSs in. Now, if a student can manage to grasp material properly over an entirely online forum, more power to them, but to me this sounds entirely like a money grab. At least in industry people were straight-forward when actions were entirely based upon monetary reasons…


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