Don’t make me go “All flipped classroom, all the time.” Just don’t.

30 10 2013

Hey kids! Do the new dance craze that’s sweeping the nation! It’s called the “flipped classroom” and it’s the bee’s knees, at least so says Inside Higher Ed:

Go ahead and postpone the conversation about the backlash against the flipped classroom model. Supporters and skeptics alike — and even the researchers behind a seemingly critical new report — say the discussion continues to be positive.

Unless, of course, you believe in assigned reading, but nobody’s bothered to ask us. If you’d like to run your classroom differently, then please be my guest. The problem is that if you start suggesting that your teaching methods can cure boils, baldness AND everything that’s wrong with higher education all in swoop, it will become increasingly difficult for those of us who currently teach the way we want to teach to continue doing so.

You think I’m being paranoid? Ever heard of lecture capture? Apparently:

More college and universities are growing comfortable with the idea of recording lectures and making them available online. According to data compiled by the Campus Computing Project, more than two-thirds of institutions see lecture capture as an important tool to deliver instructional content. That share has grown steadily in the past few years.

Flipping yourself is one thing, but what happens if the university wants to use those lectures elsewhere? Leslie MB was on this two frickin’ years ago, people!:

I’m not sure what the policy is at my current institution, but I signed away a lot of intellectual property rights at my last one. In an age where people seem to think that education is just a matter of “delivering content” that translates into mad workplace skillz, I’m uneasy about providing the university with any multimedia content that could be aggregated into a enormous-enrollment course taught by a grossly underpaid and underinsured Ph.D.

In other words, what’s good for those of us with the privilege of designing our own courses may not necessarily be good for those of us who lack that privilege. Therefore, go flip yourself all you like, and discuss the flipped classroom all you like too. Just don’t wring class politics out of that discussion. No technology is adapted in a vacuum. Ed tech startups, the pages of the higher ed press and upstarts trying to make a name for themselves in the new scholarship of teaching and learning all thrive on solutionism. Don’t join them on that ride without maintaining a healthy degree of skepticism.

More importantly, don’t make me go “All flipped classroom, all the time.” Just don’t. I don’t think I have the patience anymore.



8 responses

30 10 2013

You are an Eminently Sane Person! Good post.

30 10 2013
Jung Choi (@jung_gt)

I would agree with you if you were saying don’t go all video all the time. To me, requiring and relying on students to read BEFORE class is also a way, the traditional way, to implement the flipped class.

30 10 2013
Jonathan Rees


Hmmm…looks like I need to clarify. When I referred to going “all flipped class, all the time” I meant at this blog, not in my class (where I plan to go no flipped classroom any of the time. I’ve repeatedly seen the argument that doing the reading outside of class is somehow the “original” flipped classroom and I don’t understand it all. In history (and English I’d guess) it’s pretty much the only way you can teach it if you’re going to assign reading at all. After all, you’re not going to waste time staring at your students while they read a 300-page book, are you?

30 10 2013

Yet another article based on research on STEM courses. Yawn!

I think Jung Choi has a good point, though–reading isn’t the only kind of work that can (or must) be done outside of a History or an English class. We can have the students work on short analytical essays and then share them in small groups. We can ask them to engage in reading and discussing primary sources (texts, images, material objects, whatever.) We can engage them in discussing the reading they’ve done outside of class. I already do this with 50-66% of my classroom “contact hours” anyway, and I frequently insert things like this into lectures (esp. image analysis, asking the students questions to keep them engaged, etc.)

In short, I think that it’s a myth that all college professors ever do is to lecture. Anyone who thinks that either hasn’t been to college since 1965, or they’ve studiously avoided any humanities classes. We’ve all been powerfully influenced by feminist pedagogical practices, even if most of us don’t know them when we see them (or employ them, even.)

30 10 2013

Heard some students in the hall today complaining about their flipped classroom–they don’t want to listen to lectures outside of class.

4 11 2013
Republic of Logan

[…] Jonathan Rees’ critique of “the flipped classroom” or “flipped lecture” that is the newest fad in […]

13 02 2014
The flipped classroom as MOOC waste product. | More or Less Bunk

[…] Let’s begin by considering the possibility that Hyman (and his co-author, Edward Baptist) raise with respect to “building your own content.” The vast majority of people in academia do not have their own MOOCs. Nothing is stopping them from recording their own lectures. However, anyone doing this really should understand the risks. Yes, it’s time to quote Leslie M-B writing about “lecture capture” again: […]

5 05 2014
The flipped classroom is decadent and depraved. | More or Less Bunk

[…] written a fair bit here now about the flipped classroom. Much of that criticism has focused on the lack of assigned reading (or at least the lack of time for assigned […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: