Flipping the classroom

All the rage these days is the idea of “flipping” the classroom.  The idea is simple.  Technology has made it very easy to record and distribute (through Youtube etc.) anything that a teacher might do in a lecture.  A lecture is just talking and writing.  Very easy to record that, whether in the classroom or on a tablet.  Students can then see that part of the lecture online, at any time.  In class time, then, there can be more attention to “doing” or active learning, rather than sitting and watching.

Flipping isn’t for every teacher, nor for every subject matter, nor for every moment of the class.  Listening and watching a live human may be valuable .  There are many things that happen in the classroom in a lecture (being mesmerized, having eye contact made, seeing the instructor respond to a raised eyebrow, a stifled yawn… seeing instructors make mistakes…) that can’t be duplicated when seeing a recording online.

But many parts of many classes involve an instructor going through a set of steps (constructing a graph, solving a problem, listed a set of factors) to arrive at a conclusion.  Many times this part of a lecture is completely standard.  Every instructor in the country is doing the same thing (supply and demand diagram, for instance).  The textbook does it. Hundreds of existing online resources do it.  In these cases, very little is gained from “doing it” one more time, live.  There is little room for feedback to change the manner in which the idea is presented.  Instead, probably a better way to encourage student learning is to have THEM do it, at least once, by doing it in the classroom.

About mkevane

Economist at Santa Clara University and Director of Friends of African Village Libraries.
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2 Responses to Flipping the classroom

  1. Pingback: Peer evaluation in small group work in a flipped classroom | Michael Kevane

  2. John M. says:

    I come from a family of teachers and this flip style teaching is quite the debate. While I was in undergrad I dedicated my time to teaching at a local school of religion in my home town and noticed that students responded well to this flip style teaching. But I do dedicate the success of the flip style teaching to the teaching style being different from other teachers and therefore it kept the students more engaged because learning seemed “different,” “fun” and it used technologies that they were aware of.
    This is a competitive advantage you have over other professors at Santa Clara and if others professors follow suit, perhaps your engagement level with students will diminish as your classroom will just be another flipped class. Maybe this will lead to management jokes becoming your true competitive advantage.

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