If you ask a teacher what is most important to him/her? Would he/she likely say “Teaching”? Likely. This is similar to asking a doctor what is most important to him/her. It is about the practice of the profession, and so most people would give a similar answer. However, if we reflect on why the profession is there and who to serve, would the answer be more than that? I reckon the most important for any teacher is the practice of the profession to serve whom they would serve – the learner and may be himself too.
If you ask a learner or student what is most important to him/her? Would he/she say learning? Likely. However, a lot of learners would add that they require a teacher to learn, at least when they are novices, without much skills and experiences. So, some learners would say teaching, or teachers are most important to them, apart from the learning resources they need, and the learning environment or spaces provided.
Isn’t teaching and learning a goose and egg problem?
Here Vinod argues
Education 2.0 (it’s early, but Altius, Khan Academy, CK12, Udacity): “Education models that dramatically reduce the cost and increase the availability of quality learning.” The puzzling question is why education has not already changed. My guess is we have not experimented enough with non-linear, rapidly evolving, out-of-the-box approaches but have instead tried to force-fit ‘multi-media textbooks’ and other traditional (often broken) ideas into the “computerized” model. We have also had too much punditry from experts in education instead of just trying hundreds of new ways of doing things.
In response, Keith says in this post
But what resources like Khan Academy provide is instruction, not teaching/learning. Anyone who has been lucky enough to experience good teaching will know the difference, but it’s a sad fact of American life that most people’s mathematics schooling consisted entirely of instruction and exercise sheets. They simply do not know what teaching is, or what it feels like to learn from a good teacher. They watch a Khan video and think “That guy is doing it at least as well as my teacher (often a lot better) and I can play through his explanation as often as I need.” And they are right.
In the flipped model, teachers devote most of their class-time to the important activity that no technology can provide (at least today): helping students to learn in the same way a golf coach helps beginners (and not-so-beginners) to learn how to play golf.
I am particularly attracted to these sentiments and reasoning by Keith: “Vinod is probably like me. We learned in spite of not being taught well. Some of us figured out early in our education that the most efficient way to progress was to skip, or at least pay little attention to, classes we found boring or pedestrian, or even incomprehensible, and “teach ourselves,” seeking out help from more advanced colleagues or, in my case, the teacher whose classes I largely ignored.”
I am somewhat a teach myself person, so yes, these are resonating to me.
For the flipped model, I have such experiences even in my University days, when I read most of the books, papers at home, and then joined in the discussions and activities in class. In other words, the class is like a workshop, where experiences are shared, and active participation, engagement and discussion is encouraged. Not all the classes were like that, and so there were lectures, workshops, tutorials etc. I did often try that myself too, in my early days of teaching, in various subjects. On some occasions, there were presentations for certain subjects, or in the case of “projects” units, the project is the hands on unit. There isn’t any need to lecture. All learning is centered around a project. The teacher would be there to support, encourage the ongoing development of project, and provide feedback in the formative and summative assessment. So, flipped model is not entirely new, at least for me. May be if the teaching method is based principally on the instruction, without hands on learning, or actual practice and reflection (or the authentic learning approach), as Stephen has kept on emphasising in a connectivist learning ecology, that is the problem.
I agree here with what Stephen says: “All very well, but there’s so much more to the world of Ed Tech than Sal Khan.” How about the various initiatives that have been launched in the past few years, especially the MOOCs? Why aren’t these (like CCKs – CCK12, CritLit, PLENK2010, Change11, LAK12, ds106) even mentioned in those posts? May be people have only been informed on some initiatives and aspects of online learning, but not all.
Here George has posted on MOOC:
Teaching and learning: Isn’t that a Goose and Egg problem as I once mentioned here in the Golden eggs in the MOOCs?
Is teaching essential in the learning equation? I could say it is like the 2-sides of the coin, and you need to teach and learn for the learning to be balanced. How one is going to teach and learn is dependent on the context and experiences. Some people may be more comfortable with their teaching by themselves, whilst others may be more comfortable with their learning through being taught by others.
Here is the recording of the presentation on MOOC – The ideals and reality of participating in a MOOC.
How about your verdict? I reckon teachers and learners may give different responses.
Postscript: Refer to Stephen’s slides on Knowledge, Learning and the Community – elements of effective learning.
Picture: from wikipedia on Goose and the golden egg.