Flipping the Classroom

December 23rd, 2011

Check out this great video from Salman Khan about using video to reinvent education. One key point he made is about flipping the classroom. Usually teachers spend the time during a class lecturing and teaching the material, and through homework, students have to think about it and discuss it. This is backwards. By placing videos of the lectures online *before* class, professors allow students to watch the lesson at their leisure. If they don’t get something, they can watch it again, and again, and again. Take time to think it through. Pause it to take notes. Maybe talk about it with a friend. Then, when you get to class, you discuss it. You (should) already know the stuff, and need to just discuss how it works or how to think about it. This seems to be a much more effective use of class time. Flipping the classroom through technology makes the lessons even more human.

I think this would work amazingly in a law school lecture. Before class, assign the readings, and post a series of short you-tube videos where I lecture to the camera, and explain each of the topics. Do this before class. Let the students read and watch the videos. Let them outline and take notes with that advantage. If they don’t get something, they can pause my lecture (they can’t do this live). If there are questions while watching the video, let them submit it through some form of social media, and it can be addressed online, or during class.

Then when they get to class, there is so much more time for discussion. I won’t have to lecture and drone on. Here technology would make the class so much more human.

Now, of course the concerns (and I think these same concerns apply to posting slides in advance to class, but they would be more potent now, something I have blogged about here and here). Students may just watch the videos. They won’t outline for themselves. They may not pay attention in class.

Fair objections.

A few possible responses. If students can learn from a video, without paying attention in class, is class really necessary? Or, more precisely, is a lecture class necessary if students can watch and learn from a youtube video on their own time? Or, perhaps students can learn *more* by listening to the lecture before, and getting involved in discussions during class. Not many students particularly care to hear a professor drone on and one, and prefer lively discussion. This maximizes the time in class.

Now this would take a lot of work on my part. A lot.

I’ve started putting together thoughts of how I want to structure the class. It won’t be like anything else anyone has ever seen in any law school. That’s for damn sure.