In this 2011 TED video, Sal Khan describes a classroom of the future wherein students and instructors collaborate on more difficult and intriguing problems. How does he propose accomplishing this? By flipping the classroom, of course.
What’s a flipped classroom?
The flipped classroom is so-called, because the learning and the doing are flipped. For example, a teacher assigns a video lecture for homework — ostensibly one of Sal’s videos. The student watches the lecture at home, then reports to the classroom ready to tackle the tough stuff — the assignments. This allows students to engage in more challenging problems under the guidance of the content expert.
What are the benefits?
As may readers know, I flipped my Stats class — both at Sayre and at Elmira College (where I’m a freelance adjunct). Using the flipped classroom has enabled me to make extensive use of Minitab in the computer lab. Had the students not previewed the content with my curated videos, this would not have been possible. Given the “STEM” nature of students’ futures, Minitab use will be provide a leg up when entering college or the workforce.
Another advantage to the flipped classroom is that students spend more time on the task of problem-solving. In didactic learning, most of the time is spent lecturing with very little real-world problem solving.
The caveat? Sal Khan and others take for granted that all students want to learn and will invest the time in the videos before class. Given the corporate climate of most public schools, the flipped classroom is a transitional process. The typical public school trains students to be employees, and so they do not do anything that does not count. Every successful practitioners least favorite question? “Are you collecting this?
In the beginning, I had to “pay them” to watch the curated content. How was this accomplished? I call them Quick Quizzes, but they’re just short frequent assessments designed for student accountability. When students know they are being quizzed regularly on the content, they are forced (at first) to plug in. Then it becomes second nature. This is essential, because we all know that life doesn’t reward us for merely showing up. We have to learn how to internalize and work without oversight.