This weekend the strategy of flipped learning has been a divisive one on Twitter. Greg Ashman implored that it is an inequitable strategy, with errant student motivation inevitably playing too large an influence in it being a reliable teaching strategy. Similarly, Adam Boxer posited that when learning is expected to happen outside the classroom we potentially increase the achievement gap, again due to the loss of control of who is doing the learning. Conversely, Freya suggests that flipped learning offers an opportunity for student responsibility, as does Tom Sherington here, adding that a well controlled flipped learning strategy can facilitate independent study skills, and that not providing such opportunities through fear of a few not doing the work is playing to the lowest common denominator.

Both sides have convincing arguments, but I believe that there is a larger more pernicious issue at hand. Flipped leaning increases teacher workload.

The most obvious example is if there is any expectation of learning to be done outside of the room. This is different from revision, which I’ve written about before. Flipped learning has to be assessed in some form before the teacher could confidently deliver the next section in the sequence of learning: pre-reading, viewing videos etc. This increases the teacher’s workload.

The other cited reason for flipping learning is to set up a pre-lesson scenario, where students are exposed to content in preparation for the teaching of it the next day. The issue with this, assuming we have a completely equitable and motivated learning environment outside of the classroom, is that is provides more time in the classroom. How can this be an issue I hear you ask? Is this guy losing his marbles?

More time in the classroom can only have one outcome when viewed by boards of education: fill it with more content. We would assume that the extra time would be left for deeper understanding of the current content, but this is not how it plays out. The amount of content expected to be covered in curricula has increased significantly over the years because ironically, teachers keep finding clever ways of finding more time to deliver it. We don’t get rewarded for such innovation, but punished for it with an increased workload. I’ve written about this type of thing before, discussing the idea that the better we become at teaching our students, the higher the grade boundaries go, so the harder we have to work.

So, whether flipped learning has a benefit to students or not, it may have a long term detrimental effect on us as teachers.

I’m Paul Moss. Follow me on Twitter @edmerger, and follow this blog for more English teaching and general education resources.

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