The flipped classroom strategy is gaining tons of well-deserved attention in the education community. The advent of educational technology and it’s availability in classrooms around the world creates an awesome environment for flipping traditional instruction.
However, what happens if all students don’t have reliable internet access at home? They may have a device, (school-issued or personal) but lack of WiFi can be the destruction of a flipped classroom. Yes, there are many ways to provide students with lecture information without relying on WiFi … downloading instructional videos to a flash drive or burning it on a DVD, but I worry about the potential stigma attached to this. My friends have a smartphone and/or WiFi at home and I don’t so I have to use this. Ugh.
When I started flipping my classroom, I was a “traditional” flipper. I recorded my videos (which, looking back, were WAAAY too long) using Screencastify on my Chromebook, uploaded the videos to YouTube, created a Google Doc for note-taking and formative assessment, and then put everything on Classroom for my students to access. This is all great and fine expect … students were having trouble keeping up with the Docs and finding their notes. Thinking back to it now, I would have been uber-stressed if that were a requirement in one of my classes! Also, I was assigning 2-3 videos per week and almost always had a handful of students in each class who were unable to complete the video at home because of connectivity issues or because of extenuating circumstances at home. Can you really penalize a student because they don’t have WiFi or because of something that happened at home outside of their control? NO! To do so, in my humble opinion, would be completely unfair.
Fast forward to second semester of my first year as a flipper. Over Christmas break that year, I read this article by the fabulous Jennifer Gonzalez on Edutopia. This post and the accompanying video really opened my eyes to a different “flipping” approach. Many of my students did not have access to reliable WiFi and, as Jennifer states in the article, this issue can be the undoing of a flipped classroom. (Notice I said CAN BE the undoing … there are certainly ways around the WiFi issue, as I stated earlier!)
In order to keep my flip afloat, I decided to give the in-class flip a try. As I always do, I presented my modified strategy to my students. They were incredibly relieved to know they would have TIME in class to complete their “homework” and wouldn’t have to worry about WiFi at home. The relief on their faces was the assurance I needed … this was the way to go for my students!
That’s the beauty of the flipped strategy…teachers have FLEXIBILITY to do what will work best for their kiddos. After all, who knows the needs of our students better than us? 🙂
Swing back by tomorrow to check out the tools that make my flip fabulous … and how a typical day looks in my classroom.
Thanks for reading 🙂