Smashing 3 common excuses not to flip your classroom

1. What if the students don't watch the videos?

This is by far the most common objection I hear when it comes to flipping classrooms. Teachers fear coming into their classroom and having only a portion of their students who have watched the video, while others have not. “Why go to the effort of making videos if you then have to reteach it in class anyway?” And the problem lies in the question.

One of the first rules a flipped teacher needs to apply is to NEVER lecture to the whole class again if there is a video. Even if most of the class do not watch the video at home before class you should not then reteach the content to the whole class as if you never gave them the work to begin with. Instead, make those who have not watched the video watch it! 

Students have always not done homework. The difference now is that you have to plan for them not to do it. My plan is generally to send students to the back of the room with a set of earphones to watch the video straight away. I then play some sort of learning game, such as Kahoot, with those who did watch the video. This helps to reward those who do and also sends the message that I expect them to watch the video.

I figure, I used to have my students stay back to do their homework if they didn’t do it, but now I can get them caught up during class time. There will always be students who don’t do their homework. The trick in flipped learning is to plan for those students and not wait the time of the students who did watch it.

2. My students don't have access to the internet or technology!

These days this objection is getting less and less, but there are still many students who cannot access the internet or do not have devices to do so. The best thing to do here is to find a way to provide this access. Students could access the content in the library at recess or lunch for example. 

Or you could send the video home on a USB stick. If this is not overly possible, you can transfer the content as an audio CD or print it as a handout reading that they can take home with them. I have even heard of a school who has been slowly extending the reach of their school WiFi system through boosters to cover much of their neighbourhood, providing free internet for those less fortunate.

So, while tech and access can be an issue, there are definitely ways around this that are not overly difficult.

3. Making videos takes a lot of time

This is probably one of the more compelling excuses. We are so time poor as teachers that the idea of adding the creation of videos to our workload is a bit ludicrous. So let me explain ways that flipped learning can actually save you time.

Firstly, making a video can be very quick and easy these days with tools such as Screencastify and Screencast-O-Matic. These will make a video of your screen that is easily shared or uploaded to YouTube. SO making a video can take as little as the time it takes you to present it.

Secondly, you will save a lot of time in class. A presentation that took 30-40 min in class becomes a 10-15 min video. If this is sent home then you have that extra time in class. Obviously you would do more learning, but you also are providing feedback, checking papers, and working on projects together with you being available to to the students. This can save a lot of time at the back end as you do not need to take as much marking or preparation work home with you.

And finally, as long as your syllabus or curriculum does not change too frequently, you can generally make a video one year and then use it for multiple years following. This then is saving you time in the long run which means making the video will in fact save you time.

Now I haven;t even mentioned the time saved by not having to repeat yourself to students who are away sick, or on an excursion. Just think of all the times you have said the same thing multiple times for people for various reasons. This time is saved and you can now focus more on the lesson prep and create more authentic, rich, engaging and meaningful learning experiences for your students.

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