The Facts of Flipping: 4 Common Misconceptions Debunked

It’s one of the most discussed topics in higher education today: the flipped classroom, which reverses the typical lecture and practice components of a course. We examine four commonly held misconceptions to set the record straight:

  1. The flipped classroom means getting rid of lectures entirely.
    A common misconception about the flipped classroom is that it completely eliminates the in-class lecture and relocates all instruction to occur online. While it’s true that the instructor will be recording and sharing lecture content to be viewed ahead of class time, in-class discussion remains equally important.

    In fact, modified lectures during class time become less of a one-way street and more of an active discussion under the flipped approach. During this time, the instructor can answer questions that students have about the material, reinforce key points, and make real-world connections with current events before moving on to hands-on activities and group work.

  2. The flipped classroom is all about videos.
    The conversation surrounding flipped classrooms tends to focus on the creation or use of instructional videos. However, there is a wide variety of ways to present materials outside of the classroom thanks to modern technology, such as podcasts, interactive practice problems, photo libraries, guided readings, case studies, slideshows, simulations, and educational games.

    What students are assigned outside of the classroom is only half of the story; devoting class time to the application of concepts through practice, collaborative discussion, and projects is central to the flipped learning philosophy.

  3. Flipped classrooms replace instructors with computers.
    The role of the instructor under the flipped classroom can often become even more essential than under a traditional approach. Content coverage becomes a responsibility shared with the student, allowing the instructor to become more of a coach, expert resource, and discussion leader while continuing to assess student progress and achievement. By repurposing class time to act as a workshop rather than a lecture period, instructors are more able to identify errors in thinking and correct them before test time.

  4. Flipping requires the instructor to have both advanced technical knowledge and a great deal of time to invest.
    While a significant up-front time investment may be necessary to create or find new formats for presentations of material and design new in-class experiences, flipping the classroom can actually reduce prep work in the long term.

    Once materials are created, they can be reused across multiple sections and semesters, and even minor updates to content likely won’t require starting from scratch. Further, the Internet offers a vast and diverse array of free and high-quality resources, such as Kahn Academy’s video library, that can be utilized in a flipped course to deliver content.

    Recording lectures can be as simple as using a USB microphone and speaking over a presentation, such as a PowerPoint previously created for in-class use. Many computers and laptops have built-in webcams, which can easily record video content. Online apps, such as Blendspace, provide a simple, interactive platform to create and publish content.

Ms. Silke Hunker at Northeastern Junior College (NJC) created a flipped classroom for her developmental math classes. In a webinar, Silke shared the course structure of both MAT050 – Quantitative Literacy and MAT055 – Algebraic Literacy, including the resources she provided students to make the flipped classroom approach work. She discussed students’ reactions to the flipped classroom model, challenges she faced, and test score data. Watch the recorded webinar!