Flipping for All the Wrong Reasons [SLIDE]

A few months back, I got into a passionate conversation with a person who believes that flipping the classroom is our only hope for saving schools.

His arguments rubbed me the wrong way, though, because he believed that kids were inherently motivated by the technology behind flipping the classroom.  “When we deliver content in a digital format, we capture the attention of digitally driven kids,” he said.  “They literally eat this stuff up.  We’re speaking their language when we use YouTube for school purposes.”


I was thinking about our conversation last night and decided to whip up a few slides.  Looking forward to hearing what you think of them:

(view and download both slides on Flickr here and here)




Related Radical Reads:

Technology is a Tool, Not a Learning Outcome

More on Technology is a Tool, Not a Learning Outcome

Are Kids REALLY Motivated by Technology?

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  • mathcoach247

    Can’t it be both?

    Can’t it be both?

    • billferriter

      Math Coach asked:

      Math Coach asked:

      Can’t it be both?


      In my experience, Math Coach, the answer to that question is a resounding, “Heck No!” 

      The motivational aspect of technology is what my good friend Dina Strasser calls “a red herring”  because technology really isn’t all that motivating to kids.  When we argue that “technology motivates kids,” we’re really mistaking novelty for motivation.  Kids might initially like tech driven activities, but that’s only because compared to more traditional lessons we bury our kids under, tech lessons are different.  Unfortunately, poorly planned technology lessons become boring pretty darn quick.  Need proof?  Take your kids and turn ’em loose in the computer lab.  Give them free time.  Will they use their time in deep and meaningful ways?  Probably not. 

      (See here and here).

      And as for the “preparing them for the future” argument, asking kids to consume content by watching videos that teachers create won’t do much towards preparing kids to be meaningful contributors to tomorrow’s workplaces.

      Now, I’m not saying that flipping can’t be a meaningful instructional practice.  It can — but only when we stop focusing on the technology and start focusing on what it is that the technology makes possible.  It’s the class time that we can now spend on questioning and having conversations and providing remediation — instead of spending that time delivering content through lectures — that’s REALLY valuable.  The technology is secondary.

      Does that make sense?


  • ReneeMoore

    The Technology Should Become Invisible

    In the early 1990s, when I first started working with the Bread Loaf Teachers’ Network doing online email exchanges between my classes and those of my Network colleagues around the globe, our Director (Dixie Goswami) would constantly remind us that “the technology should become invisible.”  In other words, the goal was to get the students and ourselves more engrossed in the ideas that were being examined than in the logistics of how. As you note, Bill, the novelty of doing an email exchange soon wore off, but the power of the discussions (which in our case were based around shared reading) and collaborative digital writing truly captured their interest and imagination.

    However, @mathcoach, then as now, the use of the (then) new technology at school mattered for many of our students because it was their main (for some it was their only) opportunity to learn how to use it. School tech use should be an opportunity to learn or imagine new ways to use technology, leading hopefully, to even more and better technologies.  But what makes the tech matter is what we are able to do with it.

  • MarciaPowell

    Hey Let’s Flip it so I can define all the vocabulary

    I talked to a teacher a few years ago who was flipping 25 minutes at a time, defining each word and concept and then ‘allowing the students to come in and get practice’ during class time.


    See what is wrong with this picture?


    She set the content, the lecture was still there, and the kids got a worksheet to fill out for vocab words.  Kahn Academy does this, but I don’t see that it appeals to many kids.


    And then, back to boring old homework.   No reimagining the place in which kids spend 6 hours/day.


    I think I would prefer to watch netflix and do the homework.


    ===============the flip side===============

    I send out a text a few times a week that leads kids to something that is different.  Perhaps it is a news article, or something from livescience.  Occasionally–like once/2 weeks, I might use screencast-o-matic and a 4 minute video.

    This is a different type of flipping.  It flips the responsibilty over to the students.  And class is filled with modeling techniques and individual challenges.  Tech is used for analysis or creation.

    I’ve got a long ways to go, but maybe, just maybe, I am on the right track.

    • billferriter

      Flipping the Responsibility to Students

      Marcia wrote:


      This is a different type of flipping.  It flips the responsibilty over to the students. 


      This is a great way to reconceptualize flipping, Marcia.  Instead of thinking about the technology, let’s start thinking about what the kids should/could be doing.