May 25, 2016
Yes, but only if students have the motivation and resources
The general concept of a flipped classroom seems modern and interesting. Instead of the rudimentary route where teachers lecture and then assign homework, students research the lesson beforehand and then solidify the information in class the next day through various exercises and asking questions.
In theory, and to a very tired, mushy, senior-year brain such as mine, this fresh take on school appeals greatly. I’m all for that.
The rigid structure in place at most schools is tired and is designed to put most of the power in the teacher’s hands. Flipped classrooms place the learning responsibility in the hands of the students, which is more applicable to the real world, and also makes the learning feel less instructional and more mutual.
Plus, discussion based and hands-on learning techniques are usually more entertaining than droning lectures, which are better suited for napping and doodling, and oftentimes make learning much more difficult than it needs to be—especially when we have access to YouTube and Khan Academy.
The major con to flipped classes is that students may not take the initiative to learn on their own time, and therefore will have nothing to contribute in class the next day. Some students may not have the means or resources to do this research outside of school, since it requires time and internet access. Flipped classrooms are destined to reduce our slim amount of free time after school.
Arrangements could be made to provide students technology or computer lab access. In terms of motivation for students to do their work, participation in class could be assessed. To solve the problem of limited free time, perhaps the school day could be shortened.
There are solutions to the cons, but they would require a lot of effort to enact. This system in general, although appealing, would require major reconstruction of the schooling system. And we all know how Illinois is already struggling in that department.
No, there are too many barriers
Flipped classrooms undoubtedly have their positives and negatives. But, from my perspective, there are considerably more negatives.
In flipped classrooms, teachers record videos or audio outside of class that the students watch on their own time. This is when the students are responsible for correctly interpreting the videos and audio independently.
This can leave students stumped or lost without the ability to respond, give feedback or ask questions.
At many high schools, including Gwendolyn Brooks, students can get very easily distracted while watching videos. Some students will be engaged; however, most will draw, daydream, talk or take a short nap. Without a teacher to encourage participation or speak directly to students they can surely lose focus.
Then there’s the issue of resources. It may seem that everyone has a smartphone or a laptop nowadays. But, there are still thousands of people across the U.S. who live without easy access to the internet. According to numbers from the digital advocacy group Connect Your Community 2.0, up to 40 percent of households don’t have internet connection in certain American cities. For a student who falls under this category, it would be difficult to do work or study material that requires access to the internet.
Lastly, there are so many different types of students in a classroom. Some learn more through hands on activities, some learn when they hear and see something once, some must hear something multiple times to learn and some need lots of reinforcement.
Flipped classroom teaching focuses on hands-on activities, and you only hear something once—many students would be at a loss.
Again, there are a ton of positives and negatives. It truly depends on the class, students and teachers to know if this teaching style will fit.
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