Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Flipped Classroom

Technology where it is needed, when it is needed.

I remember my high school computer lab. One room of large desk top PCs, set up in  traditional classroom style so that we could face the blackboard as the teacher taught us basic programming. DOS style. Yes, I am that old. It was all very cutting edge. At that time we learned typing as well, on typewriters, and the typing teacher was in awe that the computer printers could produce so many different fonts. Where, he asked me, were all the wheels inside?

For the students in my class, working with technology is a normal part of the day. So normal that they don't get nearly as excited as I do by the new document camera or the SMART board lessons that let us show things differently than I would have thought possible when I was last a student. I am blessed to have exciting new technology in my classroom,  and while some of it sometimes doesn't work as we want it to, it allows us to explore learning situations in completely new ways.

One of the classroom trends that I think has enormous potential is the Flipped Classroom. In this model, students have access to videos and animations that illustrate classroom concepts, and they are expected to view these outside the classroom ( I almost wrote at home, but it could be off any mobile device, in the car or while waiting for little sister to finish her dance class). In the class, learning time is spent working and getting feedback from teachers and peers on assignments, and asking questions they have prepared ahead of time. The model seeks to maximize student-teacher time.

The Flipped Classroom requires a bank of video lessons for students to view, and which they could review to better understand or to revise for tests. But once posted, such material would be available for students in different locations or at different times, making it possible to have mini-lessons ready for students to watch at their own pace.

Right now, I am exploring how best to present such content to the class. As part of their media competency, students are now preparing "How to..." videos on curricular content they identified as worthy of revision. Using the school's new ipads, I hope to share these videos with the parents and make them accessible from outside the classroom, and I am exploring how best to do this. Youtube has shortcomings, but by embedding video and using privacy settings I may be able to make it work. Teachertube has potential, but in initial tests I have had uploading problems.

I am excited to see how the students will prepare their videos, and I will be communicating with those of you who expressed concerns before material is posted. For those of you interested in seeing what this could look like, the video bar embedded in the homework blog shows two short videos my daughter prepared last year.

I often wonder what schools will look like when my children are my age. What forms of technology will be obsolete by then, and what aspects of their classroom experience will be antiquated? We can't know, of course. All we can do is try to make the learning environment as modern and pertinent as possible, and try to make sure the students have experience with the modalities available in the ways that best enhance their learning.

Postscript: Someone wrote to ask if I remember DOS. Ha! Of course not! But I know that at the time, the people involved were convinced it would be necessary for us to learn. I keep that in mind when I make choices in class - I ask is this valuable for it's own sake, and are the skills the kids  are learning transferable. DOS, not so much for me.

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