Web Conference

After researching our topic independently, I found that the Skype chat with my learning partner Cyndi helped to verify some of my own thoughts and solidify my ideas about the flipped classroom.  We found we were both somewhat skeptical of all the positive buzz about the flipped classroom and hesitant to try it ourselves.

Cyndi had concerns about institutions wishing to cut costs and push for more online content. They may embrace the flipped classroom as a misguided opportunity to reduce classroom time, failing to see that classroom time becomes, arguably, more important in a flipped classroom.

Doing a search for articles on the “flipped classroom” results in a long list of resources that extol the virtues of the strategy, and/or how easy it is to implement. With titles like “…engage every student, every class, every day”, I feel like it’s too good to be true. I never found a balanced look at the strategy, something I wanted in order to make informed decisions . I guess that’s the scientist in me; I want to see objective studies on the effectiveness of the strategy, ones that address and investigate potential drawbacks rather than dismiss them.

Cyndi agreed that studies were lacking, but she did find a paper that appears to be what I was looking for. Bishop and Verleger (2013) provide a survey of research on the flipped classroom approach, finding just one study that tracked student performance in a true flipped classroom. So perhaps the problem is a lack of research, something that has been brought up elsewhere. For this reason, both Cyndi and agreed that we would likely “wait and see” rather than dive right in.

Cyndi teaches dentistry in a department that is very traditional, and she doubts whether her students or colleagues would be ready for a flipped classroom at this time. In contrast to Cyndi, the international college I teach at encourages active learning and new strategies. We already have 4-hour teaching blocks to allow for in-class activities, group work and discussions. The more I think about it, the more I look forward to having more time to do explore topics more in depth and better do the activities I already use. I don’t, however, have the resources or time available to prepare for a “flip”. I have no office space, classrooms that are used full time and limited IT support at my institution, so creating lecture videos would have to be done mostly at home. With no time-release available, I would also be doing it largely on my own time.

Will I flip? Probably, but not in the immediate future. I’m not averse to trying new things and making significant changes, but I’m not going to hastily jump on the flipped classroom bandwagon. I want to do it well, with quality, customized videos and well-planned activities. This is likely something I will work towards over a number of semesters, a little bit at a time. Perhaps by then, there will be more balanced studies available to address my other concerns.

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