Thursday, April 26, 2012

Flipping education

It seems that the new verb this day in education is
Kevin MacIce wrote a full piece around it in Wired, and then TED-Ed was announced today, with as one of the main selling points the open (?) teaching platform they are creating around YouTube, by providing an on-line lecture around any video on YouTube, or "flipping" the video.

As an educator I am not really good at capturing and keeping the attention of my students during a "lecture", I really dislike that word and the activity. I am just not a good performer, or the edutainment part of teaching. I do think I am somewhat competent in solving problems that students have with the materials, in answering questions.

So I have always said that I will "flip" my educational approach. And these two articles will probably form the impetus and starting point for when I start again after my upcoming sabbatical. Avoiding the "just add an extra hour to every lecture hour" danger will be relatively easy. The main problem I am struggling with at this point is that I use questions in class during lectures to introduce new material. This illustrates, I hope to the students, that their intuitive notions of ecological mechanisms are often correct, and that the the literature on these subjects consists of a 1) a more in-depth exploration and explanation of these intuitions, 2) examples of these mechanisms, and 3) where these mechanisms (and intuitions) break down. I think this is really empowering to realize that learners can work there way through the basics of the material by themselves.

But how can I incorporate this in the flipped version of my current teaching practice?

  • I cannot use those questions in the video, since the student will not engage with the question, and just keep watching.
  • If I end class time with these types of questions, the students will have the engagement, but they will probably watch the video several days later, and maybe not notice the connection between their own intuition and the material.
I have a year to figure this out, and hopefully in the mean time somebody will launch an alternative to "flipping", because somehow it really grates every time I use it, similarly to "lecturing". 

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