Flipping Back Again – The Flip-Flopped Classroom

18 Mar

One of the weaknesses of any pedagogy is that the moment it becomes routine, it starts losing its effectiveness. Lessons need to seem fresh and exciting. While teacher passion accounts for a good deal of this, a problem with the flipped classroom is that it can easily start to stale. Put another way, a truly engaged flipped learning classroom is not just about posting a bunch of videos and doing exercises on the material in class.A flipped classroom needs to offer a varied diet of activities, just like any other classroom should.

One of the key advantages of a hybrid learning model is that it offers the promise of combining the best of online and face to face practices, and the flipped classroom needs to take this on-board. I have argued before that there is a law of thirds which operates in any classroom: some students thrive on finding out for themselves and enjoy viewing content on their own, others need to have it explained face to face where they can ask questions or piggy-back off the questions of others, and some need one on one attention. And of course at different times we all need a mixture of these approaches. Flipped learning needs to include space for all of these interactions.

Davitts freelearning creativity matrix

I like to use John Davitt’s Creativity Matrix, which seeks to ensure that lessons avoid staleness by continually changing one aspect of what you do as a teacher. To my mind the flipped classroom needs to do this every bit as much as any other classroom would. There is nothing magically engaging or creative achieved simply by flipping.

Instruction still has a place in the flipped classroom. You cannot just assume that because you explained it in your video everyone understood it, or even that everyone viewed it. At the very least you need to do some kind of feedback or make sure that the material on the video has been covered and understood. A short quiz on Moodle can be done from home to check coverage, or show up where material was not so clear or not understood, and then instruction in the classroom can be focused and directed at specific areas of the content covered at home. Or you can do the feedback first and then use any instructional time for clearing up problem areas, before moving on to the follow-up activities. in my experience you can never flip without doing this kind of “flopping” as well.


You can also take smaller groups aside and teach specific content to different groups and then use a jigsaw technique to get groups to teach each other. This is one way to ensure that the staff aspect of Davitt’s Creatvity Matrix changes once in a while. If students create a presentation as part of this, this can in itself become part of the flipped content available for future years. As teachers we often work harder, rather than working smarter, and we must remember always that flipped content does not all have to be generated by teachers. Not only should we be sharing the load a faculty, we should be using student labour to create instructional materials!  believe this has pedagogic as well as motivational impact as well.


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