Monday, June 11, 2012

Flipping the Classroom Responses

1) Article: Five Best Practices for the Flipped Classroom

In addition to reading this article, I also skimmed through some of the user comments and this link, which gives an overview of what a 'flipped classroom' is. I understand why a lot of people get nervous about this new model, and why some people seem abhorrently against allowing computers to 'take over' the classroom. We've been using blackboards and pencils for decades, and such a radical change to digital information distribution will not be taken lightly by the majority of educators. Many are concerned that the teacher will become fully obsolete, others muse that the flipped classroom is technology for the sake of technology. On the other side of the spectrum, there are those who see the Flipped Classroom as the greatest invention since the white board.

I am more on the positive side. This is because I believe the essence of teaching methods will not change, even if the vehicle for those methods evolve. I think effective teachers have always been both 'a guide on the side' and a 'sage on the stage'...this reflects Prof. Ruby's "I do, we do, you do" practice. This same guideline can be followed in technological instruction. As I understand it, video lessons like those from Khan Academy demonstrate the material/concepts/skills ("I do"), then assist the student in working through problems ("We do"). This is in collaboration with the classroom teacher, ensuring that the guided practice provides live and immediate feedback (still "We do"), eventually allowing the student to work independently ("You do"). Even if there is less of a role for the teacher in the 'I do' portion, the negative impacts would likely be minimal, as the teacher is still the major player in active guidance ('we do', 'you do'), in my opinion the most significant parts of instruction. Teachers can also take on the 'I do' portions as needed, for students needing extra help. As you can see, the role of the teacher is not diminished, only facilitated.

2) Five Future Technologies That Will Shape Our Classrooms

One commenter on this article scoffed at the idea that these futuristic technologies, even though there are already prototypes, will find their way into the mainstream classroom anytime soon. I somewhat agree; it's like the difference between a hover car (which has been around for many years already) and an actual flying car for mainstream transportation. Or the difference between being able to choose the sex of your baby (already possible) and the personality or athleticism. There are simply too many variables and it would take hundreds more years (tens more years?) before these types of technologies become a reality.

Even if such innovations were invented, there is also a difference between being invented and being used mainstream. For example, the electric car still hasn't quite caught on, or even Kinect video games, the technology that the holographic desk is based off of. This is because there are still inconvenient kinks to work out. The electric car can't go beyond 100 miles from home. Kinect can be finicky at the best of times.

It is true, however, that in 10, 20, or 50 years there will be mainstream technologies that the average citizen couldn't have dreamed of in their most imaginative moments. I never thought that Facebook or the IPhone would work as well as they do, or have as great of an impact as they do. Perhaps the holodesk WILL become 'the next big thing'...perhaps flying cars will become a reality in one hundred more years.

What will remain constant is that it is impossible to fathom what will and won't be invented, and what will and won't be popular, no matter the technology we have on our hands. There are no statistical programs that can account for the human whim.

3) Big Thinkers: Salman Khan on Liberating the Classroom for Creativity

Most of my thoughts on this video were already covered in my review from the first article. Khan Academy, at the end of the day, is still a tool. Perhaps a useful tool, an innovative tool that will change the nature of the classroom in ten years, but it's up to the teacher to determine to what extent something like Khan Academy would advance learning in the classroom.

For example, it is the hope of founder Salman Khan that the 'lecture' portion of class would get out of the way and free up class time for independent work - the brighter students helping the slower students, and giving the teacher a greater chance for conducting creative projects and activities for students. But if the teacher fails to connect what is being performed in the classroom with the material learned from Khan's lectures at home, then learning will not be achieved. This is no different from teachers who fill their science labs with fun, hands-on activities and then fail to help the learner see the relevance or connection to key core concepts.

I would be interested to try out Khan Academy for myself for a primary review. I think it's free, and maybe I'll do so in the future as I look for ways to enhance and advance learning in my own classroom.


  1. It is important to thing logically in terms of technology and not ideologically. There are benefits to technology, but as a culture I feel we put too much emphasis and reliance on technology and its role in everything.

    I think technology will definitely change the role of teacher and student. I think they are useful aids, but cannot be relied on for everything. I think students still should be able to do projects that require paint, markers, and physical creativity versus graphic design or other things of that sort. More so, I also think that students should also be allowed and encouraged to hand write some things, because what will come of legibility of handwriting if everything will be computer-based?

    And I agree with you...the technologies that exist today I wouldn't have even thought could exist a mere 10 years ago. I feel like I am already technologically behind for not using a "nook" or "kindle" or owning an "iPad" or "tablet". I have an iPhone and this MacBook, this is about as close to "technologically advanced" as I am getting at the moment!

  2. I think it is important to know these technologies exist, and accept the fact that they will probably make their way into the classroom in some way, shape, or form. However, the technologies listed in the article all seemed to point in the direction of replacing teacher duties. It's one thing to make my teaching easier, or the learning better, but it's another thing to replace my duties. These technologies might make my life easier, but we have to remember students are humans, and should be evaluated by humans.

    I mostly agree with your review of Khan Academy. I just think that it is best suited for math or physics, and I'm sticking to my guns!

  3. I have to agree with what Marta said. Technology cannot be relied on for everything. In some aspects, I am old fashioned. I will write out the work for a math problem before I punch it into my calculator or I may outline a paper by hand first. I think there is a lot of value in doing things by hand. Technology is great and students should learn how to use it, but what happens when technology fails? If the kinks of something like the holodesk aren't worked out and it breaks, if the student doesn't know how to do something by hand, then they are stuck.

    I think that some of the technology that was mentioned is cool, but I'm not sure if it has a place in the classroom. To me, teaching should be a teacher with a classroom full of students. There can be projectors, computers, even Smartboards, but I think that is enough. I think that if some of the technology mentioned is developed and mainstreamed, we are going to be out of jobs. What will the future be like if students are taught by robots? Will they be robotic or have personalities? I guess I'm just cautious when it comes to technology.