Flipped Learning Myth #4 – Homework ONLY At School

The basis of flipped learning myth #4 is the second half of the definition of flipped as “videos at home/ homework at school”

In the previous post for Myth #3 we discussed the limitations of defining flipped learning as “videos at home”, and the false limitations it places on students and teachers. Now let’s take a look at the second half of that incomplete definition.


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The dirty ‘H’-word

The idea of “homework” is a loaded concept. However,  if we simply look at homework as the practice component of any learning then we can diffuse some of the dissension regarding “homework” because we are no longer limited to a home space, that may or may not exist.  If we look at “homework” as “practice” we can begin building a greater consensus that practice is a required element of learning. While initially we looked at practice in the in the classroom, by again removing location and time limitations using digital tools this practice can happen in a variety of environments.  Even if digital is used only to organize non-digital materials, that practice can indeed happen in the classroom or it could happen in the students personal space.

Practice plays a part

Mastering any concept or skill in learning requires some practice, and it’s only reasonable that some practice needs to happen in an independent space. However, independent space doesn’t necessarily make it a home space.  In the same way we flex instruction to a group or individual space as needed, practice can remain in a group space or move to the individual space. With a tool as simple as a set of earbuds the student can tune out others and enter a personal individual space while still in the same location as the group space.

Discovery opportunity

If the group space is not entirely reserved for the practice component as limited by the “video at home/homework at school” definition, then the group space opens much more widely to a variety of opportunities.  The first of those opportunities is collaboration. If students and teacher are assembled in a group space and we waste the opportunity to collaborate, then we have wasted the primary benefit of being together. Additionally, the hardest thing in the learning process to do is discovery, and if discovery can happen alongside others then there is a great deal more discovery. Discovery learning may take the form of problem-based learning, it may take the form of collaborative investigation, or it may take the form of a laboratory experiment, but in all cases there is more time for discovery because the framework allows and both instruction and practice to be moved into the most applicable space.

Mixing discovery, instruction, and practice

The digital framework provided by flipped learning opens not only traditional discovery learning, but also opens different flipped models such as Ramsay Musallam’s Explore-Flip-Apply.  In the Explore-Flip-Apply model the discovery component happens first, with the instruction being delivered at a precise and strategic time when students understand the application. When student receive the instruction and understand the application, the practice component is therefore also more applicable and becomes a natural extension rather than an added burden.

Don’t define your limits

With some practice and experience the flipped classroom truly becomes a flexible environment that is supported by a consistent and 24/7 accessible framework, allowing both teachers and students to do what is necessary at the most opportune time for learning.  The myth of limiting the definition of flipped learning to “instruction at home/homework at school” falsely puts the advantages of flipped learning in a rigid straight jacket. Like most things in education, and particularly with regard to flipped learning, it is not the limitations of the technology, the limitations of the student, or the limitations of a content area, it is the limitations placed by preconceived notions of the instructor on methods, activities, and opportunity.

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