One of the current Buzz words at the moment in education seems to be the notion of the ‘Flipped classroom’ – which in simplistic terms is:
‘Students coming to class to be delivered content, then going away to apply what they have learnt as homework’
Instead we flip this around so that
‘Students access the content upfront (usually in the form of video, or other self guided content) and then come to the class where they apply what they have learnt though discussions, seminar activity, questions etc. with the support of the teacher’
What is interesting is that I have been talking about this ideology for about 12 years now, and at neither of the organisations that I worked for (1 college and 1 university) did they give me the time of day (in fact whenever I mentioned it, I was smiled at, and we quickly moved onto another topic as my suggestions were seen as ridiculous and heretical – oh how I wish I had given it a name like the ‘flipped classroom’).
Steve Wheeler has recently blogged about this (http://steve-wheeler.blogspot.com/2012/03/what-flip.html) concept in less than encouraging terms, some of his points I agree with, others I don’t.
Steve correctly identifies that if students are paying up to £9k per year to study at HE (and that’s just the tuition fee) and suddenly they find that their learning experience is a set of badly produced videos instead of a high quality lecture or seminar – then they will be dissatisfied and Universities and Colleges could expect legal action taken against them. The key here with the concept – is this is not a cost saving idea but a quality improvement one, and only works if the contact time between student and tutor is the same, not less.
When I was at University, I was on a course with 211 other students, so for core units I sat (usually at the back) in a large lecture theatre with 200ish others. The lecturer would walk in, load their carousel of slides, talk for 50 minutes, whilst we frantically made notes, then they would walk out again, without any interaction between them and us taking place. In this scenario, the lecturer could easily be videod – I could have watched the video beforehand (with the advantage of being able to pause or rewind if necessary) and then attended a discussion based session where we explored the more difficult issues, or applied what is learnt.
This model doesn’t reduce the quality of experience, but increases it, however it isn’t cheaper for the organisation, as there is the initial production time and cost involved, and there is still a need for the seminars to take place (which if split into smaller groups would actually be more expensive). This to me is the key point – if we look at the flipped classroom as a cost saving exercise it will fail – we have to look at it as a more expensive option, but one that increases the quality of provision. If over time we get good at this, then it may (and I emphasise the word MAY) reduces cost benefits in the future.
Another point made by Steve Wheeler is questioning the accessibility of this model. This is where I strongly disagree with Steve. If a learner has (as per his example) a visual impairment, they probably have difficulty accessing the live lecture anyway. Having a video of similar content is probably more not less accessible to them, as they can play it on a large screen in their own room, they can pause/rewind easily to make it easier for them to take notes, and they can study at a time of day and in a room of their choosing – which is really useful as they can get the surrounding lighting how they want it, and take regular breaks to reduce fatigue. The key for them is then the quality of the contact session with the tutor. For many disabled learners they spend all of their time just trying to keep up with a lecture, they are unable to then think of and ask any questions. With the flipped classroom idea – they can then prepare and come armed with such questions, thus turning the seminar type activity into a very useful experience for them.
My intention is to post a series of blog posts around the notion of the flipped classroom, with my take on how and where it may work or not work, and the relationship between this and e-learning.
Taken from http://farm5.static.flickr.com/5128/5331946704_50752da8c2_b.jpg on 2012-4-12
Original URL – http://www.flickr.com/28430474@N05/5331946704/ created on 2011-01-06 19:45:30
Krissy VenosdaleCC BY-NC-SA 2.0