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The State of the Flipped Class Model.

Recently, the Flipped Classroom has gotten a lot of attention.   Sal Khan of the Khan Academy gave a TED talk (http://www.ted.com/talks/salman_khan_let_s_use_video_to_reinvent_education.html ) where he talked about his vision for the future of education.  He received a standing ovation from the audience after he spoke.  During his TED-talk he referred repeatedly to the Flipped Model.  He spoke about utilizing videos so students could work at their own pace and how teachers could have more time to work individually with students in the classroom. 
Aaron and I watched with rapt attention as he wowed the audience.  He perfectly described the model of instruction we use in our classrooms and demonstrated some amazing student-progress tracking software his team had developed.  He spoke of students taking responsibility for their own learning, students really learning the key concepts of our classes, teachers roving around the room helping kids who struggle.  It was exciting to see the Flipped Class model shared with such a large audience.
As I watched this I thought of Melissa.  Melissa is struggling in my Chemistry class right now.  It may be one of the hardest classes she has ever taken.  I spent 15 min with her individually during one block this past week.  I was able to identify her need to understand some basic algebra skills so that she can really learn the chemistry topics she is struggling with.  I thought of my own daughter who is getting ahead in her flipped class so that she will have more time to prepare for her lead role in the spring play.  I could go on and on about kids who are learning and benefiting from the flipped class and how we are seeing it changing students lives. 
We have also been humbled as we have seen what started in a small school in the mountains of Colorado explode.  People are blogging about the Flipped Model, tweeting about it (#flipclass), and talking about it.  This past two years we have had many educators want to visit our classrooms and see the flipped model in action.  We had so many requests we finally decided to host one open house per month.  We have lost count as to how many educators have visited our classrooms, but in the past year it has probably been around 200 individuals.  We even had two teachers fly out from San Francisco to spend four hours with us.  This has been a humbling experience for us. 
This past week Aaron and I had an interesting discussion about the Flipped Classroom Model in light of how it fits into the education reform movement.  Especially now that Sal Khan has exposed the model to a non-educator audience.  Our conclusion is that the Flipped Model is NOT a magic bullet that will fix today’s schools.  We believe education’s only magic bullet is the recruiting, training and supporting of quality teachers.   Our biggest fear is that the Flipped Model will result in teachers thinking that the model will solve their classroom issues and they will become apathetic.  We fear that some will choose to use other teachers’ videos (which is fine, and we encourage this in our upcoming book), but they will not adequately engage with the students and will bore their students to death with video.  We have seen this happen over the years with many technologies in the classroom: death by filmstrip, death by PowerPoint, death by VHS, death by DVD, death by online video, death by inquiry, death by any other instructional practice!  Good instructional models are never an excuse for bad teaching, and by teaching we do not mean direct instruction.  Bad teaching while using a good instructional model comes in thinking that the model will do the work for you.  Good teaching always has been, and always will be the gathering of constant feedback of students and modifying instruction to meet their individual needs.  Technology simply makes that possible.  The same is true with the Flipped Model.  If the Flipped Model is not carried out effectively, it will not work.  We know the most important ingredient in student success is not the teaching methodology, but rather the teacher.  That said, we believe the Flipped Model makes GOOD teachers BETTER and makes GREAT teachers SHINE.  But under no circumstances will it “fix” a burned-out or disinterested teacher.
We believe strongly in the proper implementation of the Flipped Model because it has so many benefits which speak to the heart of education reform.  The Flipped Model allows for:
  • ·         Students Taking Responsibility for their own learning
  • ·         Students who truly learn topics
  • ·         Students who are engaged in their own learning
  • ·         More time for teachers to help out students who struggle.
  • ·         True Differention in Class
  • ·         And so many more benefits

So what is the future of the Flipped Model? 
We see the Flipped Model growing exponentially in the coming years.  Educators and policy makers are seeing the value of the Flipped Model and we are again humbled to be some of the leaders in this movement.  This is best illustrated by our packed speaking schedule.  We have been asked to speak at a large variety of conferences and districts this summer.  We have gotten to the point where we can’t do them all!  This year we will have a pre-conference at our annual Flipped Class Conference where we will train six educators on how to conduct their own Flipped Conference.  We are thankful to the Morgridge Family Foundation for funding our pre-conference and getting behind this movement.  Here is the link to the flipped class pre-conference. https://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?formkey=dEtfOFVFSWtoTm9hZC1BZzhKVVBYeUE6MQ&ndplr=1
Other thoughts as to the future of the Flipped Model
  • ·         We feel fortunate that ISTE (http://iste.org) is going to publish our book on the topic and hope this book will continue the conversation about how to best use technology in the classroom.
  • ·         We continue to see better and better assessment systems being developed which will help teachers truly identify which objectives students don’t understand and which will really help kids learn deeply.  We are not computer programmers, and we encourage enterprising individuals to develop systems that will streamline this process.
  • ·         We are encouraged by the amount of research that is starting on the Flipped Model.  I was recently asked by an Education Professor if there is any research demonstrating the validity of the Flipped Model.  We have several people who have done either their master’s thesis or their doctoral dissertation on the Flipped Model.  Some have completed their work and many more are in the process of conducting research.
  • To summarize:  We are excited where the Flipped Model is heading.  It will make good teachers better and make great teachers shine. 

More Information:  If you are interested in learning more about the Flipped Model here are a few links for you to explore:

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