Flipping the Class & Khan, Part 2

March 15, 2011 at 9:47 am 3 comments

So, I went back and watched several videos at the Khan Academy last night. To be fair, there is more conceptual presentation than I thought. This makes me feel even better about sending my students to watch these videos. Yesterday’s blog shows the power of Web 2.0, blogging, & Twitter. I asked if I was missing something, and got lots of great feedback including from Jason with the Khan Academy team.

Where am I today?

I still feel that flipping the classroom is a worthy pursuit. There are lots of ways to get this done. The easiest way would be to flip the class in such a way that all of the students were working at the same pace on the same material. A motivating conceptual lecture could be given at the end of the class session, students could visit web sites for conceptual enrichment & how-to practice, with collaborative work in class the following day. There are variations that could work – written assignments for students to develop conceptual understanding at home, computerized assignments for drill practice, conceptual portions of the collaborative work. The Khan Academy videos could definitely be a tool utilized in this approach.

But is keeping everyone on the same pace the best way to flip the class? Isn’t there something to be said for allowing students to learn at their own pace? This is much harder to pull off, because it would then be impossible to give mini-lectures that conceptually motivated the topics. (Imagine 30 students in 30 different places – even if you could give all the mini-lectures there would be no time left for coaching/mentoring). So, we’re reliant on using the work of others to deliver the conceptual understanding or we must create all of the material ourselves. The best option is often the most difficult option.

Even after looking at the Khan Academy videos again, I don’t think that there is sufficient conceptual development there. It will be hard to find a one-stop shop that couples solid conceptual explanations of mathematical ideas along with practical how-to videos (which Khan does quite well) along with an arena for interactive student practice.

For me, I think the opportunity is there with MyMathLab. Depending on the book, there are videos that explain concepts & demonstrate how to solve problems. The homework & study plan, with all of its learning aids, can provide students with the quality practice they need. I’m going to try it in the fall, using the “all on the same pace” approach. I may need to supplement with more how-to videos, either from other sources online or by creating my own. I may need to develop some conceptual videos & materials. But I’ve got all summer, right? I wonder if I’m stumbling into one of those a-ha moments?

Let’s keep the conversation going. Please leave your opinion as a comment, or you can reach me through the contact page at my web site – georgewoodbury.com. I’d still like to hear from those of you who have experience in flipping the classroom.


I am a math instructor at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, CA. Each Wednesday I post an article related to General Teaching on my blog. If there’s a particular topic you’d like me to address, or if you have a question or a comment, please let me know. You can reach me through the contact page on my website – http://georgewoodbury.com.


Entry filed under: General Teaching, Math, MyMathLab. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Milena  |  March 15, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    Thanks for the response George. I teach MS at the moment, Pre-Algebra and Algebra and next year I am teaching Geometry, Algebra 2 and Pre-Calculus at HS. I guess you are looking at flipping your classroom using the Khan Academy as a way of differentiation as well. In education we are constantly on the lookout for discovering the one and only method that will provide each student with the best education, the panacea of education of a sort. Unfortunately, I don’t believe it is that easy. There is great value in some of these methods though, as long as we use them exactly as a tool for their purpose. I see my role as a teacher in exploring, evaluating and combining those methods. I also try not to reinvent the wheel. And Khan Academy fills in the perfect spot for teaching basic math skills. About differentiating with the Khan Academy videos, they can help students go back and make sure that they fill in their own gaps. The students who are advanced can work on advanced levels of their projects in my classroom. I will be differentiating just like I did before flipping my classroom, within the same unit. The Understanding by Design http://www.ubdexchange.org/ has some good resources on performance tasks which develop understanding of concepts. I am also like to develop my own exploration activities with Geometer’s Sketchpad.
    Question: What levels of math does MyMathLab cover?

    • 2. georgewoodbury  |  March 16, 2011 at 4:52 am

      MyMathLab covers all levels of math taught at the 2-year college level. I am using it this semester to teach an arithmetic course, and it goes all the way up through Calculus.
      Good point about not reinventing the wheel. For me the trick is to find resources that I can use in the way I see fit, and I do see the Khan Academy videos as a helpful supplement for some students. I still do not see them “driving the bus”.

  • 3. Evolving Classroom  |  March 7, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    I agree with you about how it can be a hard transition, but the point of education becoming more personalized to the student level is the main focus. In order for this to happen, outside instructional learning and inside implementation is crucial.

    We actually wrote a great article featuring the concept of “flipping the classroom” and Khan’s Academy here: http://evolvingclassroom.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/innovative-teaching-strategies-using-digital-learning-devices/


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