Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the way we view the college classroom and the college learning experience.
I’ll admit that I have taken a few lecture-based classes that really captured my attention. The instructor talked for 50 minutes, and I sat there, mesmerized.
Actually, come to think of it, it was only one class… out of the 80+ classes I’ve probably taken in the past 7 years. The truth is, I usually hated lecture-based classes. I have an extremely short attention span, and even as a “good” student I struggled to stay engaged.
I’ve had a number of conversations with one of the professors in my department about how we might begin changing the classroom model to better fit our students. And one of the things we talked about was moving the instruction or lecture portions of class online, so actual class time could be spent doing other things.
Clearly I talk about this stuff way too much, because my family has started sending me news articles and blog posts that deal with non-traditional learning whenever they come across them. My mother sent me an infographic this morning that describes a “Flipped” classroom model that is being experimented with in a Colorado high school. Although Since I’m interested in how this would work in higher ed, I couldn’t resist posting about it.
This infographic couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m in the middle of reading Roger McHaney’s 2011 book The New Digital Shoreline: How Web 2.0 and Milennials are Revolutionizing Higher Education, and he notes in a chapter on Web 2.0 Content, Filtering, Apps, and Emergent Behavior (Chapter 5) that content sharing will play a large roll in changing how our current college classrooms are structured:
To teach tech-savvy mellenials there must be an undersatnding of their characteristics and their worldview and it’s core. To most of them, the concept of social media makes sense. They appreciate core features that encourage:
- Discovering existing content
- Contributing new content
- Combining and organizing content
- Directing others with reviews and ratings
- Creating groups and collaborating
- Sharing opinions, thoughts, and questions. (129-130)
Although the Flipped Classroom infographic doesn’t these things specifically, it does leave a lot of room for their inclusion. The graphic mentions that placing lectures online allows students to review them as many times as they need. If students still have questions, they can bring them up during the next class period. Because class time is devoted to work and practical application, students who already understand the lesson don’t have to sit through yet another redundant (for them) explanation. They can continue to work at their own pace, getting the most out of the class as possible.
OR, they can collaborate with their peers, helping their fellow students understand different concepts, as the teacher takes on the role of a facilitator and moves around the room. A learning community, such as this, takes responsibility of instruction away from teacher and redistribute it to the class as a whole–placing them in greater control of their learning experience.
Ideally, though, this learning community would be active both online and offline, with students communicating, sharing, and asking questions in both spaces. Online conversations could be referenced when the class meets face to face and classroom discussion could continue online after the class period ends.
And, as a side note, I really can’t ignore the two pieces of information that stuck out to me the most in the infographic:
- Before the flip, 50% of college freshman failed English; after the flip, only 19% failed English.
- Before the flip, 44% of college freshman failed math; after the flip, 13% failed math.