The basis of flipped learning myth #3 can be found in the limited definition of flipped learning as “videos at home / homework at school”.
A less than defining definition
Different authors, innovators, and practitioners refer to flip learning in a variety of ways but I prefer the word “framework” because a framework is a skeleton within which a variety of things can be accomplished and variety products can be placed or built. In the case of flipped learning the key to the framework, as highlighted by Aaron Sams in his keynote at FlipTech East Coast 2018, is that flipped learning does indeed rely on a digital element. It doesn’t have to be solely, or primarily, digital but digital is a component. His point was that if it didn’t require digital of some sort then we would have had flipped learning in a true sense prior to the digital age. Before anyone jumps to the overuse of digital in flipped learning, rest assured we will address that myth in a different post. At this point I am content if we have consensus for this discussion that digital at some level is required for flipped learning.
The primary reason that flipped learning requires a digital element is the ability of digital tools to remove the barriers of time, space, and literacy that exist in a solely text based system. The heart of this myth does of course include a level of truth, flipped learning did begin with a simple premise of instruction at home homework at school, where basic ideas could be delivered digitally and higher order thinking or thinking that required an expert is done in the classroom. In fact, this was the pattern used by Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams in their initial attempt. However, this format was not fully formed and did not take advantage of the opportunity available with a digital framework. Very quickly, Bergmann and Sams moved toward asynchronous mastery models.
The beauty of “instruction at home/homework at school” is that it’s easy to relate, communicate, and explain. So much so that it has taken on a certain resilience of idea. As flipped learning has developed it has become difficult to adjust educators’ perceptions away from this early picture. I don’t say eliminate this idea because there is a place for this model of flipped learning, but if we are limited only to that model then we waste a great deal of potential.
It’s about framework?
So if flipped learning is not “video at home/homework at school”, then what’s the point? To answer this we must return to the idea of the framework. A framework doesn’t just support a single component of a structure, in the case of flipped learning only instruction, but provides support to the entire creation structure.
If the digital framework can be used to provide at least some instruction outside of the group space, that space can be more largely defined as any place where the student is working independently. The location of that space may be at home, it may be on a bus, it may be during a study period, or it may be within the same classroom where others are receiving group instruction. It is this flexibility of digital learning that allows students to receive the instruction when they are ready or when it is needed, rather than when it is prescribed by outside forces.
Let’s also not limit the use of the digital component to instruction but add in investigation, collaboration, as well as formative assessment all into that digital space. As tools have improved and access has become yet more universal, it becomes an opportunity to broaden the use of digital in the personal space to address many types of personal space activities beyond instruction.