Flipped the classroom, or not?

This post on questioning on flipped the classroom seems to have led to some further challenges from the readers.

Is flipping the classroom revolutionary?  Is it a matter of choice for professors or teachers? Some claimed great success, whilst other doubted on its effectiveness.

For me, watching videos in learning have certain impact on learning. May be classroom should be used for more “productive” discussions and learning activities, but again this depends on the context of learning.  If the students have little or no experience, then the professor or teacher needs to consider what pedagogy works best for those type of students.  It is not one size fits all, by video recording all the lessons, and then broadcasting to the students that would enable learning to occur.  That’s still based on the consumption of knowledge (or more precisely the information) by the learner, without much consideration what sort of learning would take place on the learners’ end.

Using an instructivist approach, as in the case of video-based teaching is effective for “mass” education.  This has been the case since the 70s where television based distance education was introduced.  The only difference may be the availability of video posting sites like Youtube and Blip.tv, and the TED.com which have enabled these educational videos be posted and shared openly to the public.  Rewinding and re-viewing the videos surely adds value for learners if it is expected that learners remember the correct concepts and information transmitted in the videos.

What may be missing is the use of questioning and reflection by the learners after watching the videos, to summarise what he/she has learnt through such video watching activity.

To flip or not to flip, that is where an educator needs to consider.  Here is my previous post on flipped the classroom.


#CritLit2010 Learning in a Complex World

I am deeply interested in this Safe and Caring Schools in a Complex World – A Guide for Teachers

Here are some relevant points summarised:

Prompting Complexity

– Internal Diversity

Problems with disciplines and disrespect for others – which are often attributed to diversity was embraced

– Internal Redundancy

The complement of diversity is similarity or redundancy – the quality that enables a collective to be interactive and to work together productively

– Decentralized Control

This sort of activity can enable the teacher to shift away from the role of the “teacher as an expert” and toward “teacher as participant” in the learning collective

Decentralized control enables the teacher to participate in the evolution of the collective personality of the classroom.

The focus here is more on being prepared than having plans

– Enabling Constraints

The instructions served as enabling constraints

Complexity research does not advocate that structures be abandoned, merely that they be organized in ways that allow for unpredictable and oftentimes imaginative outcomes.

– Neighboring Interactions

Here knowledge is explained:

– Knowledge Now – knowing is doing

Complexity research recasts knowledge in relational terms.

A system’s knowledge is its range of possible action – that repertoire of doing that enables it to hold together, to adapt, to thrive.

– Engaging Interest – knowing is being

– Experiential Learning/Skill Practice – knowing is becoming

– New Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes – knowing is belonging

Practical ApplicationKnowing is doing, being, becoming, belonging

The question, is not of the presence of complexity, but rather harnessing it for learning experiences.

My reflection:

Although the above guidelines are recommended mainly for designing and delivering lessons in the classroom environment, I found many common themes with the design and delivering of online courses.  This is especially so when I participated in CCK08 and CCK09 MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) where most of the points discussed above were incorporated into the course structure and delivery.  Currently, I am participating in this Critical Literacies Course, and so the notion of Knowing is doing, being, becoming and belonging do make sense.  I would however like to learn the perspectives of the instructors and peers on the use of Personal Learning Environment (PLE), and how they would view knowing when learning with a diverse media and spaces.

I would need to take more time to reflect on the significance of Web 2.0 and PLE and how it has harnessed my learning experiences.  This would be shared in the coming posts.


Teacher training and classroom teaching

I have written a post on To be or not to be in a quest for changes that relates to Tony’s post of my thoughts on managing technology in universities

Should all faculty have compulsory training in teaching as well as research before they can get tenure? I think this is the most sensitive question in any Higher Education Institutions.  Most institutions would have expected some relevant research qualifications and experience in teaching on top of the specialist PhD, but when it comes to teacher training, it could be challenging for both the administrators and the professors involved.

What sort of training would be most appropriate for such instructors or professors? 

Tony writes about What do instructors need to know about teaching with technology 

Any training program is a balance between the minimum that a learner needs to know to operate effectively and the time available for training. A full one year master’s program will obviously cover much more ground than an eight week part-time program. Initial training does not have to be perfect and satisfy all requirements, because I see professional development as a continuous process throughout one’s career. I will concentrate here on what I consider the minimum that an instructor needs to know to teach effectively in post-secondary education (assuming that they already have a good knowledge base in the subject area):

  • epistemology
  • the biological basis of learning
  • learning theories (linked to epistemology)
  • the design of teaching 
  • learning technologies 
  • project work

All programs would be available online, or face-to-face, or in a blended mode. There would be at least one institution in every state or province licensed to offer the program, and the program would be nationally recognised and a condition of employment as an instructor in post-secondary education.

So, would teacher training help instructors and professors in teaching?

If we watch some of the above videos on Youtube or University sites, you would find that videos lectures are still the sole means of “delivering the content”, the traditional “transmission of content knowledge”, the production line approach towards dissemination of knowledge.  Most of such lectures would not require any interaction with or amongst the students, though there might be some questions and discussions happening in other tutorials sessions.  May be that is the limitations of having Open Course Ware that has been designed with the classroom teaching as the teaching media, this time happening over a virtual space or video platform.

“For instance, what was the main goal (in general) for technology in teaching in our 11 case studies? To enhance the quality of classroom teaching. What data do we have that (a) classroom teaching is meeting the learning outcomes desired (b) that the introduction of technology will – or has – improved learning outcomes? We have no data – yet we continue to pour millions of dollars into lecture capture, clickers, multiple screens, projectors, lecture consoles, whiteboards, you name it, without any data whatsoever as to its likely impact on learning outcomes. In fact, we don’t even know what we are spending on technology for teaching as it’s all buried in other budgets.”

There has been many student surveys conducted based on the classroom teaching, and the results always indicated that, yes some teachers are great in explaining concepts with plenty of live examples, but the problems all could relate to a “boring content”, irrelevant topics or a lack of interaction with such traditional “lecturing method”.

What may be an alternative approach to teaching?

So, as a teacher, one could be a filter, a curator, a mentor and a node in the networks (of learners and other instructors or teachers), apart from the role of an expert in the subject discipline. 

It’s not the content that would add value to the teaching process, as one could always find better contents available in some of best university OPEN COURSE WARE sites – filled with videos, podcasts, and artifacts (articles, research papers and slides etc.) 

To teach or not to teach? That may be a crucial question for any teachers in Higher Education.

It is the “teaching and learning” or facilitation process that would enhance teaching, which would in turn inspire the learners in their way finding and sense-making, with self-directed learning as part of their learning goals in their quest for life-long learning.

  1. What do you think would be the important ingredients in teacher training in Higher Education?
  2. What is your view on online classroom teaching?
  3. How would technology enhance teaching and learning in Higher Education?

Thanks Tony for his insights into teaching and technology