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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.”

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