Can Schools Survive the Information Age? Yes, by flipping the traditional classroom!

By: Ainsley Ma

The Information Age

We are living in the Information Age. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “information age” as the current period in human history during which we are using information as a commodity “that is quickly and widely disseminated and easily available especially through the use of computer technology.” However, collecting information does not make us smarter.

Julian Birkinshaw discusses four consequences of having too much information:

  1. Paralysis through Analysis: the larger the decision, the more information we need to justify our actions.
  2. Easy access to data makes us intellectually lazy: our dependence on automated processing machines has deterred us from exercising our critical thinking and judgment.
  3. Impulsive and flighty consumers: having access to multiple sources of computer technologies makes us more distracted and less productive.
  4. A little learning is dangerous: we consume and share information with limited understanding of it.

We must find a way to use technology without experiencing Birkinshaw’s consequences. One solution is flipping the traditional classroom. We need to teach students how to use technology as a learning tool.

Flipped Classroom Model

The traditional classroom model follows Bloom’s Taxonomy. It is lectured-based and begins by introducing new concepts to students in the classroom. In a flipped classroom, instructors introduce new materials to students before the classroom. Instructors can assign video lectures, short readings, lecture slides, and other online media to their students before the class meets.

This method enables students to spend more time in-class analyzing, evaluating, and creating original ideas with peers and instructors. Overall, students further their mental development and reduce their homework load. However, these are not the only benefits.

Flipping Birkinshaw’s Article

A flipped classroom enables students to use technology as a tool that accelerates their cognitive development. In a flipped classroom, students learn to overcome Birkinshaw’s consequences:

  1. Paralysis through analysis
  2. Easy access to data makes us intellectually lazy
  3. Impulsive and flighty consumers
  4. A little learning is dangerous

Technology Cultivates Good Researching Skills

In a flipped classroom, instructors use technology to introduce new material to their students prior to class. Instructors can post online videos, lecture slides, recorded lectures, and other online media to prepare their students for in-depth class activities.

Instructors lead by example. When instructors use information from the Internet, they are also demonstrating to their students what makes an online source credible, legitimate, and original. As a result, students are more confident when conducting online research because they know where to find credible online sources. Thus, students can use technology to find the right information and make informed decisions.

Technology Encourages Critical Thinking

Instructors in a flipped classroom use technology as a tool to organize activities that focus on critical thinking and judgement. By posting online quizzes, uploading worksheets, or assigning short writing assignments, instructors can check if their students have completed the readings and gauge their level of understanding. Students can use these mini assignments to see their progress as well.

This model utilizes the classroom as a space for students to collaborate and discuss new concepts. Some in-class activities that develop higher cognitive skills include: debates or discussions, group presentations, and problem sets that practice out-of-the-box thinking. Therefore, instructors in a flipped classroom use technology to prepare students for activities that focus on higher cognitive skills.

Technology Promotes Self-Learning

Birkinshaw writes, “With multiple sources of stimulation available at our fingertips, the capacity to focus and concentrate on a specific activity is falling.” However, instructors in a flipped classroom use technology for educational not gaming purposes. Thereby, students learn to use technology without being distracted.

Before class, students can access online course materials whenever and wherever they want. Instructors may choose to introduce new content in the following ways:

  • Video lectures or tutorials
  • Lecture slides
  • Digital modules
  • Links to articles, journals, or blogs
  • Other online media

This model enables instructors to create a space for their students to engage with technology that is conducive, not distracting, to their mental development.

Students can learn at their own pace. They can also discover what their preferred method of learning is: read and write, visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. When students learn to use technology for educational purposes, then technology becomes a powerful learning tool.

Technology Makes Us Informed Users

Todd Schwartz and his co-authors all argue that flipped classrooms have more flexibility when it comes to customizing in-class activities. For instance, if students want to learn about the latest Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies, then instructors can spend more class time teaching AI technologies.

Instructors can show their students recorded panel discussions on YouTube or provide a list of the latest products that use AI. Then, they can instruct students to research companies that use AI and to create a presentation about their findings. In conclusion, this model encourages students to become informed users of the Information Age.

What’s the verdict?

The chances of experiencing Birkinshaw’s consequences increases as more content is posted online. To prevent students from being overloaded with information, instructors should consider flipping the traditional classroom model.


Birkinshaw, Julian. “Beyond the Information Age.” Wired. Retrieved from

Information Age. Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved from

Todd A. Schwartz, Rebecca R. Andridge, Kirstin L. Sainani, Dalene K. Stangle, and Megan L. Neely. “Diverse Perspectives on a Flipped Biostatistics Classroom.” Journal of Statistics Education, 24: 2, p. 74-84, 2016. Retrieved from

Ainsley Ma earned a BA in Creative Writing from York University but found it difficult to find employment as a creative writer. She wanted to utilize writing and communication skills but needed more experience as a writer. Through word of mouth, she discovered the Technical Communication program at Seneca College. Before enrolling, Ma had no idea what a technical communicator does. She says, “Now that I’m a Technical Communication student, who’s done the first semester and about to enter the Work Integrated Learning (WIL) placement, I can confidently say that I am a technical communicator.”

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