Introductory courses are packed with content. Teachers struggle to get through it during class; students struggle to master it outside of class. Too often learning consists of memorizing material that’s used on the exam but not retained long after. Faculty know they should use more strategies that engage students, but those approaches take time and, in most courses, that’s in very short supply.
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Blended and Flipped Learning
“How do you determine what can be flipped?”
With all of this discussion around flipped classrooms, more instructors are asking this question and wondering when and where flipped strategies are best integrated into the learning environment. Certainly, some topics lend themselves more easily to flipped strategies than others, but every lesson plan has the opportunity for at least one “flippable moment.” This is the moment during class when you stop talking at your students and “flip” the work to them instead. This is the moment when you allow your students to struggle, ask questions, solve problems, and do the “heavy lifting” required to learn the material.
Editor’s Note: Part 1 of this article looked at the history of the flipped classroom. Today we look at what it takes for someone to teach effectively in a flipped classroom.
Although the flipped classroom is garnering a lot of attention of late, simply flipping the classroom alone does not increase student success. The instructor must seize the opportunity to guide and interact with the students. Looking at this new definition of homework in a flipped classroom, there are many details to consider.
The flipped classroom seems to be the latest buzz in educational trends. Is this truly a new revolutionary approach or a revision of a technique used throughout the ages? To be clear, in simplest terms, flipping the classroom refers to swapping classroom lecture time for hands-on practice time. So the lecture is done for homework usually via a video or audio file and the classroom time is spent clarifying and applying new knowledge gained.
In an interview with Online Classroom, Veronica Diaz, associate director of the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, offered the following advice for creating a better blended course:
Begin with a solid foundation in online learning pedagogy and technical knowledge. “If you are an experienced online instructor, you are much more likely to produce a much higher-quality blended course because you’ve been involved in all the technology-mediated types of issues that you would have come across in an online modality. So you’re familiar with what can go wrong. You have something you can really build on.”
Blended learning course design entails more than simply converting content for online delivery or finding ways to supplement an existing face-to-face course. Ideally, designing a blended course would begin with identifying learning outcomes and topics, creating assignments and activities, determining how interaction will occur, and selecting the technologies to best achieve those learning outcomes. However, a variety of constraints often affect the way blended courses are developed, which can compromise their quality.
Blended learning course design, a deliberate combination of face-to-face and online learning, requires a shift in thinking in what it means to teach and what it means to learn.
Blended learning is often described as the best of both worlds because it combines elements of face-to-face and online learning. For an instructor getting ready to teach his first blended course, the temptation may be to look at his traditional course syllabus, pick which classes can be moved online and then leave the rest of the syllabus as it has always been.
When we maintain our focus on learning, the means used to help students learn dominates our thinking. Too often teachers can fall into the trap of testing students only on lower-level material (knowledge and comprehension questions). When exams become the only means to assess learning, a teacher becomes a carpenter with only a hammer: all problems start to seem like nails.
Blending learning involves using a combination of face-to-face interactions and online interactions in the same course. Students still regularly meet in the classroom in a blended course, but the frequency of those meetings is usually decreased. The goal of blended learning is to facilitate greater student learning and could thus fit within a learner-centered paradigm.