An Opposing Viewpoint about the Flipped Classroom

Teacher and blogger Shelley Wright over at PLPNetwork wrote that her “brief love affair with the flip has ended.” She described how the flip gradually faded away on its own, with her students developing a natural inclination to engagement and project-based learning. In this sense, the flipped classroom succeeded, but Wright points out she wouldn’t pursue it again. As she writes in the four main reasons why she’d avoid the model in the future, “a lecture by video is still a lecture.”

“We never moved to an entirely flipped classroom that required my students to watch lecture after lecture, day after day, by video,” she wrote. “Even so, when we did “flip,” it felt more like we were juggling the traditional lecture around than moving forward into a new learning paradigm.”

“As this new way of learning played out over time, my students found they didn’t need me to locate or create videos for them. Instead, they learned how to learn, and they were able to find their own resources.”

Eventually, the flip in the classroom disappeared all together, and Wright almost didn’t notice its absence, because the students had grown so skilled at discovering and sharing their own resources and engaging in projects with each other. It just all happened. And Wright was quick to point out that this development occurred in a classroom that one wouldn’t describe as high tech. There was a couple of devices here and there, but definitely not on the scale of a true 1:1 classroom.

Wright goes on to talk about what her Chemistry class became instead. She encouraged them to work at their own pace on 10 concepts over the course of 8 weeks.

“What happened over the coming days is that my students fanned out. Some shot ahead because they found the initial concepts quite easy. Others needed to hunker down to really grasp them. My students differentiated their own instruction. They worked at their own pace, since they chose their own resources. They could do extra work at home if they felt it necessary.”

In Wright’s opinion, this kind of learning was the best kind: Learning things from the inside out, as stated by American author and lecturer Alfie Kohn.

It seems to me that Wright took lessons from the flipped classroom, mixed in some blended teaching, and spiced it up with some self-paced learning to produce a classroom model that best fit her methods and her students. It looks like the flipped classroom may not work as a definitive and unyielding learning environment, at least not to every teacher interested in the concept. Be sure to head over to Wright’s blog post to read her entire thought process.

  • jonathan.kilpatrick

    Shame about the headline, guess it gets hits, but it doesn’t really reflect the article. Sounds more like Wright dipped her toe into “Flipping” but didn’t really commit. Did she make her own videos? 8 weeks is really a short course not the same as flipping a class for a whole year. So not really an opposing viewpoint, just as you say a different way of doing things in the classroom.