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January 6, 2013 at 7:00 AM

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Washington universities begin "flipping the classroom"

Optimize class time
Since podcasts are a great way to transmit information, we should replace homework with podcasts and use class time for “homework.” So goes the logic of “classroom flipping,” a controversial new attempt at classroom reform [“Washington College instructors ‘flipping’ the way they teach,” News, Dec. 16].

Classroom reform is undoubtedly needed. However, all this method’s basic flaw is given in the title: It merely flips the current system.

The problems in the education system have little to do with when students interact with the material, but how the students interact with it. Lectures are fantastic, but they need to be coupled with classroom discussion, questions and the like. What needs to go are the tests for grades and the homework itself, not “doing the homework in the classroom.”

Podcasts are a big part of this new method. Proponents claim audio and/or video podcast of lectures and concepts are the new “homework” and the work sheets and other “work” are the new class-time activities.
Great, have students listen to them, but use the class time to re-iterate, introduce new ideas, discuss the materials and just about anything but subject them to busywork. Reconceptualize the system we have, not reverse the order. When it comes to classroom flipping, I’d have to say “No flipping way.”

—Austin Howard, Happy Valley, Ore.

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