Unflippable

Knewton sponsored this infographic, which I found through edsurge. I’ll comment below the graphic. Ok, hello again. So I love this idea. When a close friend first showed me Sal Khan’s TED talk on flipping classrooms, I was seriously inspired and hopeful. My experience has done little (if anything) to convince me that homework, in the traditional model, works at all (although that didn’t keep me from giving my students a boring speech today on why they need to do their homework so they can develop their skills. Why do I say that if I don’t even believe it?)

But there is a HUGE problem with this, isn’t there? I can’t possibly be the only one who sees it. The idea is that every student will watch videos or lectures at home, online, right? But, no. I teach in a suburb of Denver, not East Timor, but even here I have a handful of students in each class who don’t have consistent internet access at home. So doesn’t the digital divide simply tear this whole system then fall apart?

I run into this problem when I assign homework on Edmodo, so I just try to have a paper option available for those kids. If that’s not possible, I tell them they could have extra time to get online assignments done, since they would have to do them in the library on their own time (and 9th graders at my school do not have any study periods during their first semester). But that creates a logistical headache for me. In fact, most parts of teaching create logistical headaches for me.

While the digital divide might not be the crisis it was ten years ago, there is still a correlation between household income and internet usage.  So while I’d love to flip my classroom around and be a “guide on the side,” I’m afraid I can’t do that entirely just yet. This all makes me all the more thankful for my 99 minute blocks, though, so I can be that “sage on the stage” for 20 minutes or so, and then make my way to the sidelines (sorry – football is back!).

Also, I’m sorry if I offended anyone from East Timor, or Timor-Leste, but I actually looked up the countries with the lowest rates of internet penetration before throwing that out there. I first wrote Tajikistan, because I though it sounded funnier, but it turns out there’s even less internet in Timor Leste.

And if you haven’t seen Khan’s TED talk (and missed the link above):

And anytime someone says “flip,” I can’t help but think of this:

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