#ISTE12 Themes: Flipping for the flipped classroom!

This post is part of a series of observations and reports from my participation at ISTE this year.

Flip out!  Ok, so the flipped classroom is now part of a very established conversation in American education. If you are new to the idea, let’s just say there are a lot of different versions, theories, and methods used to pull it off.  The basic premise is to use video recorded lectures, information, or other materials instead of homework, and then use classtime entirely for reinforcing concepts, answering questions, and individual help. I make no formal comment on the wisdom of this “flip” other than to say that it makes sense, but I have not seen a lot of hard data as to how effective it is in a diverse collection of settings nationwide. That data will come, and it will tell the tale.

ISTE 12, however, seemed all-in on the flipped classroom concept. Dozens of sessions offered in-depth instruction and demonstration of flipped classroom methods, tools, and ideas. The expo featured all sorts of products meant to enhance the flipped concept, and demonstrations there were exceptionally well attended. I spoke with a teacher who presented on the flipped classroom in a session, who also worked with TechSmith, demonstrating the firm’s best flip assets. He explained to me that he believed so much in the technology, he offered to help present it. The flipped classroom seemed to have a very dedicated following, with more arriving in droves.

The key questions I was left with after the conference were these:

  1. Is a flipped model appropriate for all levels and subjects? If not, which ones are most/least suited.
  2. How much, if any, commercial content is necessary for a successful flipped model? How much of what I saw in the expo was unnecessary? What is necessary?
  3. How much of the commercial content is flawed material riding a wave of interest and uncertainty?
  4. Is there a chance that if teachers do flipped classrooms poorly, or without enough quality instruction, that they may do worse than their own traditional approaches?
  5. Is there a danger of the flipped classroom perhaps being legitimately effective, yet drown in bandwagon users, fad, and commercialization?

If you have any answers to any of these, please reply below. I suspect next year’s ISTE will delve even further into these questions, and more data will be available.

For more information on the flipped classroom, please visit:

http://edudemic.com/2011/12/15-flipped-classrooms/

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