Five minute primer: Flipped classes
January 17th, 2012
08:30 AM ET

Five minute primer: Flipped classes

by Donna Krache, CNN

(CNN) It might not be the answer to all pedagogical prayers, but some educators say that flipping is an effective way to teach a generation that’s grown up on YouTube. Not familiar with flipped classes?  If you've got five minutes, you can learn about the concept right here.

Defining flipping

District Administration magazine calls flipping a type of "blended learning" that is a combination of online and face-to-face approaches.  Flipping capitalizes on technology to allow students to watch online video lectures and explanations of content for homework. Students can replay the lectures several times if they need to to get a better grasp of the material while they are at home. The next day in class is spent doing what is traditionally considered homework – completing assignments like working on math problems, for example – with the teacher as more of a learning facilitator than lecturer. Classmates contribute to the learning process by working together on in-class assignments.

Capitalizing on technology

Technology is the key ingredient in flipping, because students must have Internet access after school hours in order to watch the lessons that educators record and upload. There are many flipped class facilitators online as well as social networks for flipping, like the Flipped Class Network. Instead of creating videos, teachers could assign Internet video tutorials that are already available. One of the most widely watched online teachers is Salman Khan, who started by doing math tutorials for his cousin on YouTube. He has since founded the Khan Academy, which now offers over 2700 instructional videos online.

Benefits of flipping

Educators who have flipped classes say that the practice is beneficial. For example, a recent USA Today article describes how flipping has changed one calculus teacher’s role in the classroom and helped her students perform better on AP tests.  Flipping proponents say that this method allows for more teacher-student interaction, because the teacher is spending more time working with students one-on-one rather than standing at the front of the room lecturing. Flippers report that this approach has had positive effects on both student attendance and academic scores.

Drawbacks of the practice

Critics say that flipping may put kids on the “have not” side of the digital divide at an academic disadvantage. How can you assign students to watch a tutorial online when they don’t have Internet access at home? Some educators also warn that students may not watch the videos at home if they’re not inclined to do homework anyway.

One principal's story

Tomorrow, we’ll hear from a principal who saw flipping work so well in some classes that he actually flipped the entire school, and he says the results have been amazing. Check back with us.

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Filed under: At Home • Practice • Teachers
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Writer

    "Thanks for sharing, this is a fantastic article post.Much thanks again. Really Cool."Writing Jobs

    January 27, 2012 at 11:13 am |
  2. craig walker

    this is one of a thousand ways schools and learning can be improved w/the internet.there's still traditional classes for the off-liners that don't go on line at public libariaries (after school hit the library + hit the "books" ) the lazy kids will wash out as they always have.

    January 20, 2012 at 8:31 am |
  3. leo 818

    Like anything else, this concept is just another available tool, and its use is up to the individual instructor. While flipping and cooperative learning are valid ideas, neither is a cure-all. Used with purposeful judgement they both can improve student achievement.

    In honest abe's defense, the emphasis on inclusion and some of the other programs pushed by the various departments of education undoubtedly make it tougher to stretch the upper level students to their potential, especially in smaller schools that do not have AP programs. No one likes to "dumb down" a class to accommodate the lower ability students, but we do it all the time as a way to make things work. It is a shame, but it happens every year, and it will continue to happen until students are promoted for their achievement rather than their attendance.

    January 20, 2012 at 1:00 am |
  4. Steven Hollingsworth

    This certainly sounds like it should be pursued. This is one way that a top student will be appreciated (for helping others with their homework) instead of being the class's target.

    But - I live in Philadelphia. We don't have city-wide wifi (it was attempted but the original transmitters weren't powerful enough, and now there's no money). Don't even think about using library computers, as their time is already saturated. I know a charity that sells laptops starting at $150, and many apartments don't have room for more than a laptop. My point is, the families that need this most don't have the money to get access to it.

    So I hope this is widely explored. But if our economy isn't changed to provide good jobs, it will also further define and divide the classes.

    January 19, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
  5. Tony Cannon

    I experienced this back in the early 90's at Arizona State University. It was a humanities class with one hundred students. The professor divided us in to 25 groups of four. All lectures were on the computer at the computer lab. He also assigned two novels to read as well. At the beginning of class he would put forth a question and allow each group to formulate an answer over a twenty minute period. Then a representative of each group stood when called upon to articulate the group's answer. In fact his method of teaching was profiled on CNN on a piece known as " Future Watch" He contended that working the ability to work in groups would be a critical skill in the future. He was ahead of his time. This was a great class.

    January 19, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  6. babybathwater

    To the critics: schools have extended their media center hours, and teachers & principals are allowing kids to use their offices. Libraries have free internet, if the kids have a cheap device (kindle fire, netbook) they can go to Starbucks. There are solutions to the drawbacks.

    As for the kids who refuse to participate, well they are not participating now. Do not use them as an excuse to screw it up for the rest of the kids. And the kids who just wait to do the work in class without viewing the lectures, they will have to learn because their peers will tire of doing the work for them. Even if not, they just have to get soething by osmosis.

    If Flipped classes work better than the traditional format (and the scores seem to suggest they do) do not throw out the baby with the bath water because this fixes things for most students, and not every student.

    January 19, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  7. honest abe

    i cant for the life of me figure out why people allow this to happen. CA schools Suck worse than the deep south. if your kid is at grade level then public schools wont help them. they only focus on the lowest of lows and english language learners (like i said lowest of lows). if you get your kid into GATE then they are punished with extra work to do... public schools are punishing the average to high achievers by having them tutor or teach themselves. all the attention is on the kids who should have been held back. (a 8th grader that can't read). funny thing is the kids they focus on don't want to learn A DAMN THING! they chose not to learn and will go on to the next grade with a .5 gpa. what happenned to putting these kids in special classes or getting them away from the kids who are where they should be? oh that's right.... it's called inclusion (we wouldn't want their feelings hurt by sitting in the LOW class), so everyone suffers for them! Bunch of BS. Administrators are to blame for this – yet parents of smart kids don't speak out. the wool is being pulled over your eyes – wake up... your kids are suffering.
    p.s. – i am a public school teacher (over 20 yrs)

    January 18, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
    • James K

      Which schools exactly? Which school do you teach at? I was educated in California and am doing fine with a good job. Both my brothers were educated in California and they both graduated from College and have high paying jobs. My son was educated in California and he is doing great and now my daughter is being educated in California and she is in an excellent Elementary School with excellent Educators. Maybe it's just you Abe who is unable to effectively educate the students you teach. Just a thought.

      January 19, 2012 at 12:28 am |
      • Ironic John Wilkes Booth

        Just look at Honest Abes comments about who the lowest of the low are to really see where this comment is coming from. Honest Abe is as dumb as a box of rocks his or herself.

        As far as my opinion on this subject. I kind of like the idea, but again what happens to the poor people that can't afford internet. Also, if a kid doesn't do homework now, what makes you think they're going to sit there and actively pay attention to a video while sitting at home when they know tomorrow they can go to class and the whole class will help them do their "homework".

        January 19, 2012 at 9:51 am |
  8. LC

    "Classmates contribute to the learning process by working together on in-class assignments." Our son is very bright and helpful – but this practice of daily mandatory "working together assignments" is part of his (California) public school. The problem is that no student can't learn ahead of the curve when they are *required*, as my son is, to explain lessons to his slower classmates the entire time while the teacher sits back. I think it should be the teacher who should assists the struggling students but he says it promotes teamwork. My son gets plenty of that in Scouts. Crazy but true: part of his academic grade depends on how much he pulls along his peers.

    January 18, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • Lisa Ross

      Explaining something to someone else is a valid way to retain information yourself. You only remember so much of what you see, or hear, but you retain so much more of what you say and do. Showing someone else, or telling them is good for your son. I'll bet he is benefitting, maybe even more than the kids he is helping. If he is intelligent, he can grasp concepts very quickly. He would be bored silly if he had to just sit still and be quiet. Good for his teacher in challenging him and giving him more freedom in the classroom. Good Luck to you all. Congratulations on your son's success!

      January 19, 2012 at 10:37 am |
  9. transformerlover1

    That sounds like something that teachers should assign to their students.

    January 17, 2012 at 12:35 pm |