“Flipped Classroom” Poses Challenges for Some Professors

DYSTOPIA–The “flipped classroom” concept popular with education “experts” definitely presents some challenges for self-described “traditionalists” such as Asst. Prof. Dorothea “Dottie” Paynter, who teaches art history.

For those unfamiliar with the concept “flipping the classroom” refers to an arrangement in which activities formerly done in class, such as lecture and discussion, are completed by students at home or online, whereas activities formerly done as homework are now done during class time, usually in groups.

In the old days, Paynter said, she would use class time to show students slides of important works of art and share with them the vast knowledge of art she has accumulated through decades of study, helping them understand ideas and contexts and technical aspects of the works that the students would be unlikely to discover on their own because of their limited experience with the study of art.

In the “flipped” model that she has been “strongly encouraged” by her department chair to implement, she now asks students to “look at a lot of pictures they don’t understand” in ArtStor (an online database of images) and post “uninformed and misguided” responses on an online discussion board.

During class, students now do “a lot of collaborative finger-painting,” and she is often unsure of the role she’s supposed to play as their instructor, noting that “critiquing collaborative finger-painting doesn’t seem to accomplish much.”

The students did, however, produce some “interesting” attempts to replicate 14th-century religious paintings in “the rather different medium of finger-painting,”  she concedes, but the pointillism exercise in Business and STEM Art History II turned into “a game of Twister gone horribly, horribly wrong.”

“At this point, I don’t even care if they learned anything; I just hope no criminal charges will be filed,” she added.

Copyright 2016

T. Allen Culpepper

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