Viewpoint

The Ever-Expanding School Day

The term "flipped classroom" is becoming more familiar all the time. Learning no longer need take place just between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. or within the walls of the old-school classroom. I probably heard the term "flipped classroom" a dozen times during the Consortium for School Networking conference in Washington, DC, in March.

Look at "The Flipped Classroom" in the April 2012 issue of T.H.E. Journal and you'll find Byron High School math teacher Troy Faulkner noting that he starts hearing from his students almost instantly if he doesn't meet his 5 p.m. deadline to load a video demonstration of the following day's lesson onto YouTube. They're that anxious to log onto Moodle and watch him solve quadratic equations.

When she writes about Faulkner and the math classes in Byron, MN, education consultant Kathleen Fulton is talking about a specific program in a specific school, but the term "flipped classroom" is becoming more familiar all the time. The idea is that teachers deliver the traditional lecture or presentation via video the night before, reserving class time to help students with their own work. In other words, the teacher-directed instruction is the homework and problem solving with the teacher is class time.

It's not just happening in Byron, and it's not just taking place via YouTube either. Learning no longer need take place just between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. or within the walls of the old-school classroom. I probably heard the term "flipped classroom" a dozen times during the Consortium for School Networking conference in Washington, DC, in March.

But in educational technology, some things can change quickly. The chances are good that by the time I go to the annual CoSN meeting next year, the "flipped classroom" will be yesterday's news and people will be talking about something else. Look how quickly the focus of discussion has evolved on the BYOD trend.

A year or so ago, many district administrators and technology directors were wondering whether and how they could take advantage of the ubiquitous devices students were willing to bring to school. They wondered if they really could ask parents to buy their children the smartphones, netbooks, and tablets that could be used for their schoolwork.

I met very few administrators at CoSN asking those questions this year. Instead, they're worrying about how to get all the bandwidth they know they're going to need for students who show up for school with not one, but sometimes two or three devices that they move back and forth between all day long. Certainly, there are still schools that forbid students from bringing even a single smartphone to school, but their numbers are diminishing.

Instead, those teachers and administrators in the vanguard appear to me to be racing to find ways to take advantage of the fact their students are eager and willing to expand their classrooms. In a standing-room-only session at CoSN, Bailey Mitchell, chief technology and information officer for Forsyth County Schools in Georgia, pointed out that "visits" to the district's learning management system remain consistent throughout the day but rise steadily after 3 p.m. and peak with an average of 450,000 visits between 8 and 9 p.m.

Mitchell acknowledged that many of those visits are made via family desktop computers but, nearly as often, they're made by students who are working with desktops, smartphones, and tablets, all at the same time.

Before very long, the challenge will be to shift from the need to get a device--any device--into the hands of every student to giving students enough to do that is educationally valuable with the devices they're more than willing to take advantage of.

About the Author

Michael Hart is the executive editor of THE Journal.

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