1. What's in a name?
There is no such thing as THE Flipped Classroom. The Flip has many faces and the word Flip has certain connotations that do not do justice to the amazing educational uses of screencasting and other video production technology. When Jon and I began promoting the idea of using screencasting as an educational tool in 2006-2007, we struggled to know what to call the model. At that time we settled on the name (and website URL) Educational Vodcasting. While this name encompassed our content delivery model, it also left itself open to various applications of screencasting in education that were not restricted to delivering direct instruction through a video to be watched at home. We quickly found that the terms "podcasting" and "vodcasting" scared away many teachers and parents.
A few years passed, our model morphed from content delivery via video, to a flex-paced mastery system and the name shifted to Reverse Instruction. Others began utilizing screencasting technology to create short how-to tutorials for students and colleagues, others were using the technology to provides students with feedback about written essays, still others were using screencasting as a tool for remediation, re-teaching, and filling in gaps in understanding. These different applications of screencasting, are obviously not the same, and although they use similar technology to create the videos, the classroom applications are as diverse as the teachers who use them.
Another year passed and we began to include elements of UDL and inquiry in our model. Others, like Ramsey Musallam, listened to the critiques of educators like Frank Noschese and completely integrated inquiry learning with the instructional videos with his Explore-Flip-Apply model.
And then the "Flip" word was used. Late in 2010, Dan Pink wrote an article for the Telegraph in which he mentioned educator and ed-tech guru Karl Fisch. Karl had recently returned to the classroom and was using screencasting technology to deliver instruction to his students outside of class. Pink referred to this as the "Fisch Flip." Karl kindly credited Jon and I with inspiring him to adopt this model, and we immediately became affiliated with the "Flipped Classroom," and the name seems to have stuck. We were in the process of writing our book at this time, and decided to call it "The Flipped Classroom," and in doing so we also stuck ourselves to the name. We submitted our manuscript to our publisher in early Feb. 2011, and shortly thereafter Sal Khan gave a Ted Talk in which he referred to "Flipping the Class"
Here is the problem with the term "Flipped Class:" it implies version one of our screencasting model: that which used to be done in class is now done at home, and that which used to be done at home, is now done in class. In a nutshell, that IS "The Flipped Classroom," but it does not end there, which is why the term "The Flipped Classroom" does not do justice to the many models being used. "The Flipped Classroom" evokes images of students glued to their computers, frantically taking notes at home, coming to class, banging out worksheets, taking tests online until they "pass" an objective, unlocking the next task, lather, rinse, repeat. And I will admit that I had my students doing exactly that for the first year I rolled out the Flipped-Mastery model (2008-2009). But a lot of time has passed, and I have learned from my mistakes, I have learned from my Twitter PLN, and Flipped-Mastery has undergone many iterations since then.
Here is a summary of the 6 models I have used over the past 6 years:
2006-2007 Live Recording
2011-2012 Flipped-Mastery/Inquiry/SBG/UDL/WolframAlpha (open-internet tests)/PBL
You can watch my presentation at the American Chemical Society this past November to hear a brief summary of each of these models here http://youtu.be/HLLciZdUpDc , and if you have watched this, you know that it would be difficult to call my classroom "THE Flipped Class." Yes, I use video to deliver instruction; no, students are not required to watch MY videos; yes, students can learn the objectives of the class in any way they want; no, all students do not have to take MY online exam; yes, students can demonstrate their understanding to me in alternate ways; yes, I believe in inquiry; yes, students are learning; yes, they love the flexibility of the class; and yes, it works...but no, it is not perfect and I can always improve.
2. Sal + TED does not equal Flip
3. The Flip is in flux
It would be foolish for any educator to adopt a model of instruction and never evaluate the efficacy of the model. This goes for Flipped Class, Inquiry, lecturing, Unschooling, or whatever educational model you use. I have been a teacher for 12 years, and I have modified my instructional practices every year based on my own reflection, feedback from students and emerging educational practices. Anyone who blindly adopts "The Flipped Classroom" (or inquiry, or lecturing, or unschooling, or whatever) model and never modifies it to meet the needs of his or her students will blindly lead his or her students into educational ruin.
This is why I have adapted my Flipped model every year. My Flip is in flux, which is yet another testament to the fact that there is no such thing as THE Flipped Classroom. Brian Bennett said it best when he said "The Flipped Class is not a methodology, it is ideology." Now, please allow me to paraphrase that statement sans buzz words: "using screencasting technology is not a one-size fits-all methodology to be rolled out on a large scale because it would be foolish to use this tool when it is not appropriate to do so; it is tool in the toolbox of education that prevents a teacher from wasting class time lecturing, (but it allows the teacher to maintain the use of appropriate direct instruction) and spends class time meeting the individual needs of students." What the class time looks like is a wildcard dependent upon the teacher, the school, the school culture, current educational research, etc.
4. Be Specific
When promoting or critiquing the "Flipped Classroom" please be specific about what permutation you are promoting or critiquing.
Do you think Sal Khan is the greatest educator of all time? Please sing his praises, but do not confuse his model with all who operate under the Flipped Class moniker, and do not assume that all who Flip do so in the same way that Los Altos High School has. Have you created instructional videos you are proud of? By all means, please share your videos with others, but share them as tools to accomplish a particular task. Did your department or school decide that all direct instruction will be delivered through teacher-created screencasts? Please share your exciting story, and be specific about the transformations your classroom has undergone.
Are you being critical of the use of ANY form of direct instruction? Then please be critical of the use of direct instruction in the form of a video. Do you take issue with a teacher deciding what a student should learn? Then please critique those who establish learning objectives for their students instead of letting the students decide what to learn. Are you opposed to a mastery model that does not allow a student to progress until they have demonstrated understanding on a particular assessment? Then please deliver your criticism to those who assess students in this way. A blanket critique of the Flipped Classroom does not address the nuances that are present in the various applications of the Flip.
The moral of the story:
When you read anything about The Flipped Classrom mentally substitute "a class that uses screencasts as an instructional tool" for "the Flipped Classroom" and all will be well. Don't make assumptions, don't make blanket statements, disagree with specific points, make specific assertions, and do what's best for kids.