Thoughts Before the Jump
Creative Commons License photo credit: MichaelLaMartin

Jim Kelly and I collaborated on a presentation for the 2012 ROCC Summer Academy Leadership Training called “Flipping Out: Making the Transition from Teaching to Learning.” This page has a number of resources designed for followup so that participants could fully participate and remind themselves of details later. Keep it bookmarked–in fact, you can subscribe to its feed. But since it’s not linked to any of the main site menus, you’ll need to keep it bookmarked to be able to find it again.

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Jim’s quotes

Jim used a lot of quotes in his slides for his portion. As we announced in the sessions, we are including the quotes here so that you can get them later rather than furiously trying to write them down. That way, you can fully immerse yourself in the experience of the moment of delivery.

“If you want to build a ship, don’t herd people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box.” ~Edward R. Murrow

“The biggest obstacle to school change is our memories.” ~Dr. Allen Glenn, University of Washington, Dean Emeritus

“Despite the growing skills gap, the war for talent and the extraordinary pace of change on every front, many policymakers and others continue to chant the mantra about the need to raise traditional academic standards and scores on standardized tests…. Like a lot of common sense, they may seem obvious but they are wrong. The creative capacities of generations of people have been sacrificed needlessly to an academic illusion.” ~Sir Ken Robinson

“As knowledge becomes networked, the smartest person isn’t the person standing at the front lecturing us, and isn’t the collective wisdom of those in the room. The smartest person in the room is the room itself: the network that joins the people and ideas in the room, and connects to those outside of it.” ~David Weinberger

“We can be overwhelmed or we can be emboldened.” ~James Gleick

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

~T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding V”

Definitions of a flipped classroom

We have seen several useful definitions around the whole concept of the “flipped” or “inverted” classroom. I can’t remember where I first saw this one, but it was the earliest I was exposed to: A flipped classroom is one in which material traditionally done in the classroom is done at home, and material traditionally done at home is done in the classroom. That works surprisingly well in practical terms, but can miss a lot, especially as the practice has evolved.

A better and more formal definition comes from The Flip: A Complete Picture: “Flipping is the act of identifying rote or procedural elements of a lesson, shifting this repetitive content to a medium not bound by teacher availability, and empowering students to take an active role in their education….”

Further in the same article we find what we think is one of the best working definitions: “The term ‘flipped teaching’ merely highlights a method of untangling student learning opportunity from teacher availability.”

Videos and articles about flipped classrooms

  • Confessions of a Converted Lecturer is a video of a talk given by Eric Mazur, Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Harvard University. In it, he explains how came to realize the ineffectiveness of traditional lecture for helping students to comprehend his subject, and what he came up with instead. It predates current “flipped classroom” practices but demonstrates its principles, and further demonstrates that inverting a class does not necessarily have to involve technology.
  • Seduce Your Audience Like Bobby McFerrin is an article that uses the video we saw in the session to illustrate some points of interest to public speakers. The same thing that makes the video useful for insights for speakers makes it useful for teachers, especially the concept of making it safe for the audience to take part. From this article, you can link out to the original video on YouTube, but I think it worthwhile to read the article that accompanies it first.
  • The Flip: A Complete Picture. “Critics of flipped instruction suggest that the concept is about shifting bad lecture to an unresponsive, technology-dependent format. This argument focuses on a narrow definition of flipping taken out of context of the learning community it was designed for…. The term ‘flipped teaching’ merely highlights a method of untangling student learning opportunity from teacher availability.”
  • Flipped classroom” teaching model gains an online community. This is a news release about an initiative that has sprung up around Mazur’s methodology. “Information transfer (i.e., a teacher transferring knowledge to students) takes place in advance, typically through online lectures. In short, students study before rather than after class. As a result, the classroom becomes a place for active learning, questions, and discussion. Instructors spend their time addressing students’ difficulties rather than lecturing.”
  • A College Teacher’s Reflection on Flipped Classrooms. “Now that everyone can learn at their own pace (instead of my pace as lecturer), it’s automatically more comfortable for everyone. Being able to pause, stop, rewind and review the material is an essential step to getting things down.”
  • Flipping the Classroom: The Redesign. Written by the same teacher featured in the previous entry, this article gets very pragmatic about how Susan Murphy went about flipping her Video Production class.
  • The Flipped Classroom Revisited. Jon Bergmann is credit along with Aaron Sams as being the most identifiable originators of the flipped classroom as it has caught on in the last three or four years. In this article, he cuts through the smoke that has tended to be blown around the concept that gives it some unfortunate “flavor of the month” aspects, effectively addressing many misconceptions.
  • There Is No Such Thing as THE Flipped Class. Aaron Sams here gives some of the background of the work he and Jon Bergmann did, and also addresses some of the misconceptions, including offering brief models that go beyond the simplistic “homework in class, classwork at home” that I first was exposed to.
  • Flipping the Classroom. This article brings together many resources about the concept, including a link to a TED talk that is also often cited as a seminal influence–and not always kindly. Critics of the flipped classroom often fear a mechanistic approach in which lazy teachers simply send students to watch Khan Academy videos, obviating the need for teachers. Properly understood, however, flipping a classroom makes a teacher much more valuable and much more essential for actual education.
  • Think Tank: Flip-thinking – the new buzz word sweeping the US. Yet another seminal article by author and speaker Daniel Pink, who is credited along with Salman Khan with creating the groundswell of interest in the concept of flipping. Khan, Pink, Bergmann and Sams were focused on revitalizing elementary and secondary education, but the concept also gives structure for what many college instructors have done for years, as well as for continuing to develop in a natural direction for college classes.
  • How the Flipped Classroom Is Radically Transforming Learning. Recognize that writers don’t get to choose the headlines associated with their articles. I don’t know that Bergman and Sams really made the claim stated in the title, but this article is one of the first laying out their experience. It includes numerous related links.


This new section will start to assemble resources more oriented to “how to” stuff, especially regarding what to do with the time you gain in the classroom.

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