Instructional Tools, Technology

What the Flip(ped Classroom)?!

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Ever meet one of those people who’s a soulfriend? You’ve got the same energy and pace, and you can chatter on and on about nothing/everything? And, one of those people you can emphatically disagree with till you’re blue in the face? I was lucky enough to study with one of these fine people- Marc Bliss– and we still engage in lovingly heated arguments that encapsulate everything from emoji use to echinoderms to pedagogy.
Both Marc and I are science teachers (I’ll still identify as that- sure!), and we both identify as innovative instructors… or at least we strive to be! Marc flipped his classroom last year as an experiment, and we had a great time discussing it this summer in Madrid. Marc is patient and sarcastic, which are 2 qualities I deeply appreciate, and are excellent for any colleague of mine to hold, as I’m often persistent, curious, critical, and have a wry ‘n dry sense of humor. So when I say we spent hours discussing every possible asset, circumstance, and case study on flipping one’s classroom, I’m not exaggerating.
I have to admit that unless prompted, I rarely take the time to peruse primary literature and keep tabs on instructional strategies from a research point of view, so any excuse to do this (in this case– trying to somehow find a counter argument for Marc’s flipped classroom advocacy!). I find overall beneficial to my professional practice as an educator. So off I went, trying to prove Marc wrong (ugh, it’s painful to say that!), digging through tens of research articles on flipped classrooms in the bowels of EBSCO.
And, long story short, Marc’s right (GAH!), and flipped classrooms are, too.
Despite the critical motivation for my search, I really did appreciate seeing studies published from 201x that continued to validate flipping the classroom as an effective and high-impact strategy. I was most encouraged by some of the case studies we read about on medical and pharmacy schools employing flipped classroom strategies in order to create more time in class to practice bedside manner, collaboration, problem-solving, and innovation– skills I typically do not associate with the mind-numbing grind medical school seems to be (based on my completely informal research in what I hear from my med school friends at happy hour, Facebook, etc.).
Using time at home to study potential symptoms associated with illness or disease and class time to engage with others as part of these professional programs is an excellent way to model educational and instructional practices from the top. It seems that many innovative strategies begin at the bottom (primary or middle school and some high schools) and tend not to transfer to “the top” (college/graduate school), which are still quite traditional by and large in their professional practices.
Many times my colleagues and I (high school and middle school teachers) bemoan our school’s title as a college prep school because so many of our graduates struggle their first two years in college. While many students from many different backgrounds may take a bit longer to adjust to college, our progressive school that relies primarily on group work, discussions, and PBL does not prepare students for Scantron exams or long didactic powerpoint lectures, or extremely particular tests that come directly from textbook readings, which are quite commonplace in the introductory classes in the first two years of introductory college courses.
So, I remain convinced curious on flipped classrooms. Where else can flipped learning be employed? Where does it work best? When should it not be used? When will it become obsolete? Or essential?

[Photo by Ben White on Unsplash]