10 Pros And Cons Of A Flipped Classroom

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tulane-public-relations-teacher10 Pros And Cons Of A Flipped Classroom

by Mike Acedo

Many of us can recall instances in our lives where we found ourselves idly sitting in a classroom, eyes glazed over, half listening to our teacher as they lectured in front of the room.

These scenes are all too familiar in today’s schools, as the traditional model of learning has primarily revolved around a teacher-centered classroom, where instructors focus on conveying information, assigning work, and leaving it to the students to master the material. Though effective for some, this type of instruction has forced students to be merely receptors of information, rather than participants in their own learning processes through active learning. Fortunately, as technology has increasingly grown and infiltrated our classrooms, a new learning model has emerged that moves away from a teacher-centered space, and onto a more collaborative, student-centered learning environment, by way of a flipped classroom.

The main goal of a flipped classroom is to enhance student learning and achievement by reversing the traditional model of a classroom, focusing class time on student understanding rather than on lecture. To accomplish this, teachers post short video lectures online for students to view at home prior to the next class session. This allows class time to be devoted to expanding on and mastering the material through collaborative learning exercises, projects, and discussions. Essentially, the homework that is typically done at home is done in the classroom, while the lectures that are usually done in the classroom are viewed at home.

There are numerous potential advantages to this style of learning.

The Pros

1. Students have more control

In a flipped classroom, it is possible for students to have increased input and control over their own learning. By providing short lectures at home, students are given the freedom to learn at their own pace. Students may pause or rewind the lectures, write down questions they may have, and discuss them with their teachers and peers in class.

This also allows students who need more time to understand certain concepts to take their time reviewing the material without getting left behind, and receive immediate assistance from teachers and classmates. As a result, this can not only improves student achievement, but improves student behavior in class as well.

2. It promotes student-centered learning and collaboration

Flipped classrooms allows class time be used to master skills through collaborative projects and discussions. This encourages students to teach and learn concepts from each other with the guidance of their teachers. By allowing students to partake in their own learning, they are able to own the knowledge they achieve, which in turn builds confidence. Furthermore, teachers are given the ability to identify errors in thinking or concept application, and are more available for one-on-one interaction.

3. Lessons and content are more accessible (provided there is tech access)

By making video lectures available at all times online, students who are forced to miss class due to illness, sports, vacations or emergencies, can catch up quickly. This also gives teachers more flexibility when they themselves are sick and also eliminates make-up assignments.

4. Access = easier for parents to see what’s going on

Unlike traditional classroom models, flipped classrooms give parents 24/7 access to their student’s video lectures. This allows parents to be better prepared when attempting to help their students and gives them insight into the quality of instruction their students are receiving.

5. It can be more efficient

Done properly, in a flipped classroom, kids can have more time to be kids, whether that means more free time, or more academic practice.

As most of us can recall from our own experiences, a substantial amount of time is spent each week outside the classroom doing homework. In fact, a study done observing 9th-12th graders found that students spent and average of 38 hours a week doing homework. This is a tremendous amount of work on not only students, but on teachers as well, who have to be constantly assigning and grading work. Since flipped classrooms limit the outside workload to watching an online lecture that is usually less than 10 minutes long, this gives students and teachers more time outside of class to focus on other interests like friends, families, and hobbies.

However, there has predictably been some criticism to this bold new model of teaching and learning.

The Cons

1. It can create or exacerbate a digital divide

One of the most prominent issues is the necessity for students to have access to a computer and Internet in order to view the lectures. This is particularly hard on students from low-income districts who already have limited access to resources.

2. It relies on preparation and trust

There is also the concern that since flipped classrooms are dependent on student participation, one must trust students to watch the lectures at home. Unfortunately, there is no way to guarantee students will oblige or cooperate with the flipped model.

3. There is significant work on the front-end

Additionally, there is a concern that implementing a flipped classroom adds an extra workload on teachers, as there are several elements that must be integrated carefully to allow the class to flourish. Responsibilities include taping and uploading condensed lectures, which take time and skill, and introducing activities in the classroom that will enhance the subject matter as well as motivate students to participate and prepare for class. Though teachers can gradually integrated flipped elements into their classrooms, it will still require additional time and effort from teachers.

4. Not naturally a test-prep form of learning

Whether you think this is a good or a bad thing is another conversation, but it’s important to realize that generally speaking, flipped classrooms do not “teach to the test.” Flipped classrooms do not follow the model of teaching to improve standardized test scores. However, teachers and students are still required to spend a sizable portion of time preparing for state mandated testing, which in turn interrupts the flipped classroom process.

5. Time in front of screens–instead of people and places–is increased

There are some who believe that if every teacher starts flipping their classrooms, students will spend hours in front of a computer watching the lectures. One may argue that this has the potential to cause serious problems to student’s learning processes, as not everyone may be as adept to learning through a computer.

Conclusion

Despite these issues, the flipped classroom can still a very effective, hands-on approach to improving student achievement and involving them in their own education.

Below are a few resources teachers can use to learn more about flipped classrooms, including resources they may find useful in implementing such a model in their own classroom.

Image attribution flickr user tulanepublicrelations; 10 Pros And Cons Of A Flipped Classroom

  • Dan Adiletta

    I’ve always found the emphasis on the flipped class to be on just half of the flip: http://exitticket.org/other-side-to-a-flipped-class/

  • kwalsh1

    Good points Mike, and I can see you are ultimately a fan of the idea. As a staunch advocate of the benefits of using flipped teaching and techniques, I’ve got to take you to task on these points. It starts with what I feel is the mistaken (yet common) perception that the flip needs to be “all or none”, i.e. flip all content in given course – it doesn’t have to be done that way. When you start to approach it as something that needs to be used only to an appropriate extent, and can be eased into, several of these cited ‘cons’ start to fall away.

    1: Digital Divide: The proper use of flipped teaching takes this into consideration. You must be sure students can access content and take steps to ensure it, and if you have a high percentage of students who won’t be able to, or are too young to do so on their own, then you should purposely limit how much content you flip and when students are expected to consume it (maybe just once or twice a week is what works best in your classroom).

    2. Requires trust: This is like saying you can’t rely on students to consume reading materials as homework, so don’t bother trying. There are plenty of approaches that can help to ensure that student consume the content (here’s 5: http://www.flippedclassroomworkshop.com/5-techniques-to-encourage-students-to-consume-flipped-or-blended-learning-content/)

    3. Significant front end work: Not if you ease in – start with a chapter of content, or a week of content, and learn as you go and evolve it over time. Granted, it is still more work up front that not going digital at all.

    4. Not test prep: The flip could absolutely be used to facilitate test prep, but it would be a shame.

    5. Time in front of screens, not people: This misses a primary benefit of the flip – INCREASING one on one time with teachers! “We have been able to quadruple the amount of time our students spend with their teachers”, Greg Green, Principal of Clintondale Highschool.

    I believe the benefits far outweigh the potential or perceived ‘cons’. Thanks for helping to raise awareness and open eyes.

    Regards,

    Kelly Walsh
    CIO and Adjunct Faculty member at The College of Westchester
    Author/Founder of http://www.EmergingEdTech.com

  • teacher_4_life

    I get around the digital divide part by providing DVDs of the videos to students without Internet access. I have found that even the poorest students usually have access to a DVD player at home or have PlayStation or Xbox. This works well.

    • Mbanda Shyaka

      Great stuff, I am doing the same in Uganda! It needs the appreciation from parents though as children , especially primary school, are not self -motivated to watch video tutorials unless the pressure comes from teachers or parents.
      Parents and teachers need to be in on the idea for success

  • Mbanda Shyaka

    I like the idea of the flipped classroom and I am one of the proponents for it in my country Uganda. I think that bold new ideas are what is required to change monolithic tendencies of our education system that is so reluctant to change.
    Issues of scalability like cost may arise especially in a poor country like Uganda but I believe the middle income parents should bear the cost , purchase Tabs, download the Khan academy and start to flip the classroom because both the rich and poor are suffering from poor education.
    The Khan academy comes in handy for all those teachers that want to save time of recording their own videos.

  • alan

    Implemented 3 different flipped classrooms within 1 month and I’m in my 3rd year. I did it alone, without funding, and in a low-income public school district. And it has been working very well. Let me clarify some of the cons:
    CON 1 – this is absolutely the easiest to problem to solve. If you can’t figure out how to get your kids access to the internet at home… you MUST get yourself out of teaching.
    CON 2 – No trust required. You can easily set it up so you know when and who accessed your video. It takes the most problematic kids maximum 2 weeks to get on board. After that is a non-issue. The key is…use the students to optimize the content so its not wasting their time…challenge them to find better videos if they don’t like the one you made or provided. The problematic kids LOVE this part…it gives them a rare chance to “stick it” to their teacher.
    CON 3 – The teachers don’t really need to invest much time at all…I spent a few hours on my weekend for a month and got this done because my kids did almost all my work…. Most kids find videos that supplement the lecture material anyway…just ask them to tell you which ones they used..TIP: ask the procrastinators that study right before the test…these kids already have their favorite sources for video content picked out.
    CON 4 – Anything is taught more effectively through flipped classrooms including test prep. The time I save getting concepts into their heads…equals more time I have to prep them effectively for the standardized tests.
    CON 5 – My kids are more connected to me than ever before. They text me anytime with questions. And if need be I help them through video conference. This saves both of us TONS of time and frustration. I’m not forcing information into closed ears and minds like an idiot. Instead, they chose when and what info they want to extract from me. Also, I thought the kids would go crazy with this and I would need to stop doing it…but they only call when they have real questions and they exhausted all other sources….

    • Moose

      Please tell us all how to make sure everyone, absolutely everyone, has internet access at home. No one can do that.

    • Matthew Gudenius

      Oh yeah? See, I’ve been a teacher for 11 years, and a computer expert for much longer than that (programmed my first video games 27 years ago — when I was 8 years old — and have been coding and working as a computer professional since then… along with my BS in Computer Science and MS in Educational Technology) and I can’t seem to make it happen, despite all of my attempts and advocacy.

      Care to share how it is done?
      40% of my students don’t have internet access at home. And we are located 2 hours from Silicon Valley (but it’s Napa Valley — agricultural community, low-education and low-SES migrant workers) So what do I do? I encourage them to use the local library: “I can’t — I have to take the bus home and my family has no transportation to get to the library before they close.”

      So I started opening up my classroom (which I am running 1:1, and completely paperless — other than homework, for the reasons I am outlining here) on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school, with myself and my devices available as resources (for free); the students and parents, once again, say they “Can’t do it.” for one reason or another (they must take the bus; parents can’t pick them up; etc.)

      60%+ of my students are on free and reduced lunches; when they don’t have money for food, they aren’t willing to spend even the nominal amount that the low-end ISP providers cost. Many of the families don’t even have a bank account, some don’t have a home phone. More than half of the parents of my students have no email account, and told me they have no desire to create one.

      So… explain to me how to solve this problem. Because it is the quintessential Digital Divide, plain and simple, and it is a major problem. My last school was high-SES, and 100% of my students had computers and internet at home — and 100% of parents had email and at were least minimally tech-literate. And that was nearly 10 years ago.

      It makes all the difference in the world…

      • Penny Christensen

        Why do we provide a lunchtime to those who let us know they could use it, but not an Internet-enabled device to those same students?

  • Fireflykeeper

    I think the FC is great. My concern is with students with ADHD and poor executive functioning, those kids by nature are not going to be self directed enough to invest the time in watching the video’s and doing the work on their own. (I know the ADHD research shows FC is successful with these kids, I’ve seen otherwise.) What do you do then?

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  • basskatcher1962

    Is anyone trying this at the elementary level? I’ve been to seminars, viewed a few blogs and even talked with teachers in my district, but I’ve found that those teachers are involved with middle and high school. They two subjects. Wow! I teach math, lang. arts, reading, social studies, and science almost everyday. How does one find the time to do the flipped class at the elementary level? Oh yeah, I also have three kids, a home to take care of, and a wife to spend time with. What do I do with them? Include them in the nightly class Skype conference? Ask them to be part of my production crew by foregoing their own work? Tell them I’m available for homework help after 9pm? I’m skeptical about this on the elementary level. Oh yeah, also tell me how to get electronics to the 40% of kids who don’t have computers or any digital gear for this program at home. I only want elementary teachers to reply because I like this idea and don’t see how you make it work since time is such a great factor.

  • mom of a flipped

    As a mom of a 7th grader who is new to the Flipped Classroom I can say I have mixed feelings. Pros include that I can watch the lessons too and use the info to help if needed. I can see what they should be learning. Decreases homework time. Cons: Kids will be kids and they need more instruction and face to face learning. Expecting them to keep to a regimented flipped classroom schedule can be daunting! Role reversal, traditionally teacher lectures students stare glaze eyed then had to somehow master it. Flipped, student teaches themselves and teacher is glaze eyed! The concept is good but if it is implemented too much to fast and with little actual teacher interaction or reinforcement of lessons it will fail!

    • terryheick

      Useful comment from a parent’s perspective.