Thursday, February 16, 2012

Really, flipped classroom!?!

In a nutshell: The flipped classroom purports to be the latest in student-centered learning, but I suspect it is really the latest in media software marketing. Read on...

As far as I can determine, the so-called "flipped classroom" (also called "reverse teaching" or the "backwards classroom") was dreamt up by a screen capture and recording software company called TechSmith (to which I am NOT providing a link) to drive uptake of their product, Camtasia Studio (ditto the no link), a softward package for creating videos. I  first encountered the term on a perfectly laudable blog, Flipping the Latin Classroom. When I started poking around the Internet to learn more, however, I discovered a site called The Daily Riff, which aggregates education-related content, but also accepts advertising (and so, once again, no link). The Daily Riff posts a number of articles on the flipped classroom, several of which include teacher testimonials in video format, in all of which the teacher concludes with the earnest declaration, "I love Camtasia Studio."

On the face of it, the flipped classroom may sound innovative. Didactic presentation of course content moves outside of the classroom to the Internet, where it can be studied at home or in the library or computer center. The classroom becomes a place for greater student-teacher interaction, individualized attention, group work, collaborative learning, and all those nice things we encounter under the rubric of student-centered learning. But I cannot escape the suspicion that the flipped classroom is really a ploy for TechSmith to sell Camtasia and for The Daily Riff to sell advertising. Which leads me to say, à la SNL's late great Weekend Update Team of Seth Myers and Amy Poehler, "Really, flipped classroom!?!"

To understand the spirit of that emphatically exclamatory interrogative, I invite you to watch what I believe to be the first installment of the Saturday Night Live Weekend Update feature, "Really!?! With Seth and Amy" (apologies for the ads; they are inevitable without pirating the content):

Flipped classroom, really! So the days of the teacher as "sage on the stage" are numbered, and it's time for the teacher to become the "guide on the side." Really! Flipped classroom, if we teachers create videos for our students to watch at home, that will allow our students to get more individual attention from us in the classroom, or engage in more collaborative learning with their peers. Really? You see, it's called the "flipped classroom" because what used to be done in class (the lecture or other didactic presentation of course content) is now done at home via teacher-created videos, and what used to be done for homework is now done in class. Really! Flipped classroom, you're telling me that my students are going to just sit back and watch my lecture on quadratic equations, catalytic conversion, mass-energy equivalence, iambic pentameter, horizontal perspective, or the civil rights movement, and come to class the next day ready to write, draw, analyze, solve problems, or conduct experiments in the chemistry lab. Really!

Of course I'm all for student-centered learning and innovative pedagogy, but I'm not convinced the flipped classroom is anything more than a software marketing campaign in thin disguise.


  1. Many teachers were already promoting this kind of idea in terms of helping their students to learn especially that it even help them to save some of their effort and can still achieve a better performance.

  2. Thanks for your comment. It's nice to see someone still reading this blog after all these years