Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Module 1: Emerging Technology: The "Flipped" Classroom

Emerging Technology: The Flipped Classroom

One of the buzz words in education today seems to be “flipped” classrooms.  This classroom model has students receiving instruction at home and doing the practical application in the classroom.  For the flipped model, instruction is usually received through an online podcast that is video or audio.  Educators who are incorporating this model are working on the assumption that every student has internet access of some sort to receive this instruction outside of the school day.  This model has received a lot more attention through the work of Salman Khan, the voice and person behind Khan Academy

This new technology and model for instruction is not without its challenges.  The most obvious hurdle is the technology infrastructure.  A doctoral fellow who has been studying the model points out, “You can’t just say, ‘I’m going to flip the classroom without establishing a foundation of the instruction and technology. . . you have to create the environment in which students can go online” (Sparks, 2011, p. 1).  Classrooms and school districts approach this issue in various ways.   Decisions makers in my current school districts have been having discussions and drafting plans on what they will do in regards to district-wide wifi and policies in regards to having studies bring their own device or to supply devices to students.  And then there are the talks about what does the management of all of this look like.  

The other hurdle that most people overlook is the quality of the podcasts that are being used and how they are being used.  Khan Academy has grown in its popularity due to the press it has received over the past couple of years and has received several grants, including five million dollars from the O’Sullivan Foundation (Watters, 2011).    What originally started out as Salman Khan creating podcasts to help his younger relatives in different subjects, emerged into a website that provides the public with free video podcasts of him giving mini lectures on a variety of topics.  Many of these topics have follow up activities for people to apply what they have learned.  Teachers have been tapped into Khan Academy and started incorporating his podcasts into their classroom during class and as a “flipped” classroom model.  I have been one of the many teachers who have used Khan Academy in the classroom.
Khan Academy is a great tool to use in the classroom as well as to use outside of the classroom.  Used whole group in the classroom or outside of the classroom, it can be a great tool to be used to introduce or review a topic.  However, like any tool, it can be over used and abused and it is not a substitute for good, quality instruction.  Khan Academy or any podcast for that matter does not replace quality teaching within a classroom with hands on application and practice.  Students need more than to simply watch a video listening to a lecture and then taking an online quiz to test their ability.  Podcasts can be used as compliments toquality teaching, but not be used as a substitute.  My fear is that too many people are becoming dependent on podcasts that other people have produced instead of focusing in on how to create their own or perfect their own practice. 




  1. Laura, your post is amazing as always. You are so thorough and you raise such interesting points! I have heard of Khan Academy before, and now I want to go check out their videos to see if I can incorporate them into my classroom, maybe as a homework assignment. Thanks for all the great ideas!

  2. Laura,

    Great post. The Flipped Classroom is of great interest to me. Six months ago a colleague and I wrote a grant to acquire the equipment and software needed to begin flipping our respective classrooms. Our equipment has been delivered and I have properly acquainted myself with the software (Camtasia Studio) that I will be using to create my vodcasted lessons. Next week I will conduct my first "flipped" lessons.

    You mention some very important challenges in regards to implementing a "flipped" classroom. First and foremost students need to have access to the internet outside of class or in class. I am fortunate enough to teach a blended e-learning class where my students use the LMS Blackboard and my lab of computers to work on a daily basis. The few students that I have that do not have access to computers at home (shockingly low numbers do not have access 6/155) will have access to my computers throughout the day. I am sure that integrating this strategy will pose various challenges along the way, however I am excited to get started.

  3. Hi Laura,

    I enjoyed your insightful post on flipped classrooms. I have seen several articles on this subject but never took the time to read them in their entirety. I especially enjoyed learning that his podcasts are self help type, which I have used for exploring many technology techniques. I did check out the Khan site and was impressed me with the contents. Thanks for sharing.

    Sarah D.

  4. Hi Laura -

    As a graduate student with Walden, I began my journey with the flipped classroom atmosphere in 2007. As a traditional student, it took a little time to get used to this type of instruction, but now I love the versatility it offers me. Public education (K-12)seems to be lagging behind. In most cases, students are still learning through traditional instruction. In some, cases, online learning does take place, but that is only by students who have access to technology. As you have said, there are still those students who do not have computer or internet access for instructional purposes. I will have to check out the Khan site to find out how I might could use that resource in my classroom. Thanks!

    Susan D.

  5. Hi Laura,

    This is a great post. You are correct about it being used effectively and not as a sole teaching tool. There are some students that don't have computer access at home. I do believe they have a way to get access whether it's through a relative, friend, neighbor, or the local library. Some students have smart phones which would give them the internet access they need to view the podcasts or tutorials. The flipped classroom seems to be a great concept to supplement instruction.

  6. Laura,

    it is interesting how technology strives to recreate the traditional learning process . I like how you hightlighted 'Flipped Classroom" limitations in replacing quality education. I support education that clearly defines these new technologies in respects of its benefits and disadvantages. Great review!