Flipped Classroom Tips (From A Teacher Who Is Mid-Flip) – Edudemic

A simple search of the flipped classroom topic still produces numerous responses. An academic search in ProQuest produces over 2,000 scholarly articles published in each of the last 4 years. Most of the movement towards the topic has occurred in the last few years. As more and more programs and instructors at all levels flip their classrooms, it is time to stop, reflect, and evaluate how well the efforts are working to improve mastery of content for students. A survey of some of the more recent articles provides a glimpse into the progress and efforts towards flipping classrooms.

Flipping A Classroom Takes Time!

One recent article from October reported on the biggest lesson learned from flipping the classroom. The Chronicle of Higher Education article by Talbert (2013) reveals a few key “aha!” moments. One “aha!” that I think gets ignored, (or perhaps it is acknowledged but eventually becomes the reason why many flipped efforts fail), is the about of time it takes an instructor to truly flip a classroom.

Talbert (2013) reminds all of us that a flipped classroom requires video creation, activities to create, differentiated instruction to build and as he states it: “the core of this project is a goal of nothing less than a complete reinvention of freshman calculus at the university level” (para. 1). It is similar to the origins of online learning courses.

Unlike on-ground courses where the academic could walk into each lecture armed with the knowledge in his or her head and talk about the topic of the day with precision, accuracy and sometimes entertainment, both flipping a classroom and building an online course take hours of preparation in advance. Done at a high-quality level, the amount of prep time could be tremendous. Online learning has continued to progress, so if flipping produces distinct advantages over traditional delivery, it is likely to persist even with the heavy preparation workload.

Time Management is Key

An additional outcome discovered and revealed in Talbert’s (2013) article shows that the difficulty students have with the process may or may not have to do with content mastery but rather time management.

A well-flipped classroom as Talbert (2013) is describing includes many of the core principles of good teaching, such as content presented in multiple media and multiple varied assessments. In one unit of study, students might encounter 5 or 6 different tasks required to learn the content, practice new knowledge and solidify that knowledge in order to build and move on to the next step.

The difficulties Talbert’s (2013) students are encountering is keeping up with all the required tasks and completing them by deadlines.

We have to realize that a shift in traditional delivery from lectures accompanied by two exams and a few papers to a variety or readings, watching videos, participating in activities and still writing papers and taking the two exams forces the students to be more organized. It is not surprising that this ancillary consequence has risen from flipped efforts.

Talbert (2013) does a good job of explaining that it is a larger issue than just starting the semester with organization lessons; it is a paradigm shift for how students view studying and learning in postsecondary education. Is it worth ditching efforts around the flipped classroom? No, it is probably not worth tossing the whole effort. However, what about some other findings?

Is It Worth It?

While many empirical studies about flipping the classroom are occurring right now, some preliminary results have been reported. Referring to a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation to study the effects of flipping the classroom and student results, USA Today and The Chronicle of Higher Ed report that the first year’s preliminary results show no improvement between flipped and un-flipped classrooms (Atteberry, 2013; Winston, 2013). Both articles stress that the study is incomplete, but even so, if there is not much gain in learning when using a flipped classroom model, is it worth all the effort to plan and implement?

I am inclined to say—yes, it might still be worth it. An ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) article in Educational Leadership discusses the implied benefits of flipping the classroom and why we should continue down this path even while we wait for the complete empirical results.

I have always said that good teaching is good teaching regardless of the motivation. While empirical evidence will lend much credence to the statement that flipped classrooms are good teaching, while we wait, we can use our other skills to evaluate. As Goodwin and Miller (2013) remind us, who can really say that Ben Stein’s efforts to engage Ferris Bueller’s classmates in the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is good quality teaching? Lectures are easy but not necessarily the best practice. Ultimately, the studies will determine how much effort we should invest in flipping classrooms.

If it weren’t such an investment of one’s time to build a flipped course, it would be easier to fully jump on board. For now, high student engagement, opportunities for real-time feedback, and self-paced learning (Goodwin and Miller, 2013) are all methods I try to include in my courses.

Until I hear it is doing more harm than good, I will continue to strive towards a class environment that includes such core principles of good teaching.

Flipped Classroom Tips (From A Teacher Who Is Mid-Flip) – Edudemic.

We need pedagogy, not just cool tools | ELT @ first site

Whether we have fully integrated technology or not, few of us can deny that learning technologies can revolutionise language learning and teaching; we can find information at the click of a button, create content and share it with the world, communicate and collaborate beyond the boundaries of our classrooms, have a Personal Learning Network and be inspired to become lifelong learners.

There are plenty of options available; various blogging platforms, voice recording tools, LMS software (Learning Management System), social media, you name it; and there is also a lot of information about them. Colleagues who have tried a tool might write a blog post; educational technologists might give reviews on new tools. All this is valuable and I have personally learned a lot out of it. However, what happens when this information comes out in the form of lists such as “100 must-have digital tools for teachers” or “50 tools every teacher should master this summer”? What about blogs whose only purpose is to present “cool tools” day after day? Isn’t all this a bit overwhelming?

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Through discussions with colleagues and trainees, I can only say that such information can hardly help teachers decide what to choose and what to reject. Some of their comments include the following:

  • “There are too many tools but too little time”.

  • “I’m not trained, I can’t decide”.

  • “They all look the same to me”.

  • “New technologies seem to appear everyday. I just can’t keep up”.

Does this ring any bells?

I don’t think that what those teachers need is a reminder that they should soon master 50 or more tools. Education has never been a matter of quantity. I guess what they really need is training and clear criteria against which to evaluate and choose technologies; they need to be able to make informed decisions about whether or not to integrate them into their classrooms. They also need to be reassured that if their goal for students is language learning then technology is just a means to an end, not an end in itself.

I feel that just presenting tool after tool is a rather narrow perspective about the potential of Educational Technology.

The hype to use the latest and greatest digital tools – rather than the meaningful use of technology – is like driving a cool car without any vision for where we want to go.

Let’s take the focus off the tool; Instead, let’s focus on:

  • the pedagogy behind the tool and use it because it addresses our students’ cognitive needs, not because it is available or exciting.

  • developing critical thinkers with the ability to find, reflect on, curate and synthesise information.

  • developing lifelong learners who will be able to create and use their Personal Learning Networks to self-educate and grow.

  • educating digital citizens, that is, responsible members of an increasingly global and interconnected world who know their rights and responsibilities; people who can make informed decisions about the content they create or share and its impact on themselves and on the other members of a digital community.

Cool tools might still be welcome to our classrooms but this won’t make them more appropriate for learning.

We need pedagogy, not just cool tools | ELT @ first site.