Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

The Future Of The Flipped Classroom

Screenshot / CBS

Salman Khan demonstrates how he records virtual lessons — instrumental in the "flipped classroom" — for CBS's 60 Minutes.

If you think the flipped classroom is big now, Sal Khan says you ain’t seen anything yet.

The “flip” — the practice of sending students home to watch online videos of class lectures, allowing teachers more time to help students with class assignments while they’re in school — has gotten perhaps its biggest boost from Khan’s non-profit company.

But in an interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes, Khan — painted in the story as education technology’s wunderkind — says the “true” flipped classroom will look different as the model getting trial runs in Indiana and states across the country catches on.

“The ideal direction is using something like Khan Academy to let students work at their own pace, to master concepts before moving on, and the teacher using Khan Academy as a tool so you can have a room of 20 or 30 kids all working on different things, but you can administrate that chaos,” Khan tells 60 Minutes.

“We’re trying to take the passivity out of the classroom, so that teachers have more flexibility,” he added later.

Whether his methods are revolutionary or regressive, the CBS piece gives the impression that Khan may be the closest thing education technology has to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, engaging today’s tech-savvy students in a way they can’t be engaged otherwise.

The profile doesn’t include voices that have been skeptical about Khan’s methods. Some teachers question whether videos are a solution for getting students more engaged.

“I get annoyed when I see bad pedagogy held up as good pedagogy only because it involves something bright and shiny — like technology or online videos,” physics teacher Frank Noschese told StateImpact last year. “And it’s hailed as this revolution, and it’s more of the same stuff that hasn’t been working for kids in the first place.”

But Troy Cockrum, an Indianapolis middle school teacher StateImpact profiled in October, says he thinks the flipped classroom is catching on.

“Educators are always presented with the next new thing, but you can tune a lot of ‘em out really fast. People aren’t tuning this out. When people ask about it, people keep asking — it’s like they can’t find enough information,” Cockrum told StateImpact last October. “More people are saying this makes a whole lot of sense.”



  • rance

    Frank Noschese – AKA The Khan Academy Stalker. That guy shows up everywhere Khan is mentioned.

  • Daniel Foster

    While I’m a fan of what Sal is doing, I get most excited by seeing individual teachers and schools become “Sal Khans” for their own students. (And students becoming “Little Sals” for other students!) My company even put together a set of guides to help anyone do what Sal is doing:

    Daniel Foster
    New Media Specialist

  • Cheryl Ward

    It is really not about the “bright and shiny technology tool’ as mentioned in the article…it is more about the philosophical change in learning that Kahn is talking about. Technology just happens to be the vehicle delivery for the content. It is about saving teacher time for higher level skills after students have learned the more basic elements…they come to class with some independently learned content and then teachers can facilitate it to higher levels. Also changes move students toward more learning on their own path and timeline. Tell me we can predict if someone is pregnant based on their buying habits or push music/book preferences to Amazon users, but we have not developed interfaces to organize content for students based on how and what they need to learn. Kahn Academy is just a baby step toward where we need to go in education, simple idea that is making waves. Just think what could be done if we really understood the level of change we need!! Time for a paradigm change people!!

  • sean lancaster

    Schools across America waste millions of dollars over the years on Multiple Intelligence trainings. We waste tons of money on Learning Styles efforts. We waste money on Brain Gym. None of this stuff has research to support its use in schools so a good bandwagon seems to be all that many administrators need to jump on board. Flipped classrooms are the latest bandwagon craze that seems neat. We may find out that flipped classrooms are instructionally worthwhile and that flipped classrooms improve learning, but that research doesn’t yet exist . . . sigh.

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