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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Khan he help us? Flipping classroom still needs work

In the 21st century, students are online from practically the minute they wake up until they go to bed. With powerful technology always at their fingertips, it is surprising that people are just beginning to use such limitless technology to educate. More and more teachers and administrators are considering utilizing technology to “flip” the classroom.

This system reverses the traditional instructional approach, requiring students to use online resources, such as Khan Academy, teacher-made videos and other technology based lecture tools to learn the assigned lesson at home. “Homework” then becomes classwork, and teachers spend more class time working through problems with students rather than lecturing.

This somewhat revolutionary idea may become the way of learning for future generations. However, without the traditional lecturing system, many valuable aspects of education are lost.

In a flipped classroom system, students no longer have the opportunity to ask questions or ask for alternate explanations. If the subject matter is particularly difficult for students and they do not understand the online lecture, they must wait until the next class for the little hint that might make them understand. Asking for a lengthy explanation in class would then take away from the class time allocated for written work, causing the student to possibly fall behind.

This loss of personal contact during lectures could be potentially detrimental to students’ learning. Initially, having someone explain a concept in person sometimes seems to make all the difference. While lecturing, a teacher can make direct connections to previous lessons and make the students think by asking them the right questions. Without that quality initial instruction, students would likely be left feeling frustrated and helpless.

Another problem teachers might face with students viewing online lectures is monitoring their attentiveness. During lectures, even the lesser-motivated students feel an obligation to stay awake and attentive in class because they know the teacher is watching. However, at home, students may lack the discipline necessary to listen and actually comprehend the new material.

Finding and/or creating online lecture materials would also be difficult for teachers. Although the lessons taught in the Khan Academy videos are easy to understand and have detailed explanations, they do not offer videos in all subjects, which would be problematic for more specialized classes.

That would leave the alternative of having teachers or departments create in-depth videos for each lesson. This could be a difficult and time-consuming process that teachers may not be able to handle.

The flipped classroom system will have to be fine-tuned in order for students to maintain an understanding of the material. Teachers will have to develop a system for answering questions while students are viewing the lectures. This could be made possible through email or instant messaging, both of which require teachers to devote a large amount of time to their students outside of class.

Online learning is a useful tool that will probably become more commonplace soon, but educators must overcome many obstacles before a flipped method of teaching is as effective as traditional methods.

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