- Come the revolution http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/16/opinion/friedman-come-the-revolution.html?_r=2&
- Flipped classrooms create magic and controversy in BC schools http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Flipped+classrooms+create+magic+controversy+schools/7202690/story.html
- The Flip: End of a Love Affair http://plpnetwork.com/2012/10/08/flip-love-affair/
- Flipped classrooms: Beyond the videos http://catlintucker.com/2012/04/flipped-classroom-beyond-the-videos/
- Mobile learning and the flipped classroom http://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2012/06/04/mobile-learning-and-the-flipped-classroom-the-full-picture/
- Flipping and expanding Bloom's taxonomy http://www.onlineuniversities.com/blog/2012/06/flipping-expanding-blooms-taxonomy/
- Khan on liberating the classroom http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmtgz95ZBbE&feature=relmfu
- The "Khanification" of Education http://willrichardson.com/post/33950726644/the-khanification-of-education
- Critique of Khan Academy goes viral (check out the video channel linked to in the blog) http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/DigitalEducation/2012/07/by_now_youve_probably_heard.html
- Salman Khan: Lets use video to reinvent education http://www.ted.com/talks/salman_khan_let_s_use_video_to_reinvent_education.html
This week as part of my OLTD 502 assignment I read and reviewed a series of 10 pieces (videos, articles and blog posts) primarily focused on flipped classrooms. Not without controversy, this concept allows teachers to post lecture style videos in an open environment, thus freeing up class time for other activities and allowing students to learn at their own pace. Ultimately I think that flipping a classroom or supplementing lecture for online videos is a powerful tool that a good teacher can use to further engage students and increase personalization. I do not think that it replaces the teacher nor is it a central piece in my view of an effective program that ultimately focuses on higher learning functions.
I was engaged by the Vancouver Sun article "Flipped classrooms create magic and controversy in B.C. schools" by Janet Steffenhagen. In short, I found it a shallow piece. On the positive side, it's nice to see teachers who are innovating getting credit, however I think it paints an incomplete picture of what goes on in the classroom and the important role of the teacher. I remember a couple of years ago, the press here in Nanaimo got tipped off that I was using iPods in the classroom and wrote a piece in the local paper. Around the school and perhaps in certain circles in the district I became known as the "iPod guy" I found it comical, because if I was asked what my greatest tool for engaging students was, it would not be the use of mobile devices. Inquiry based learning strategies, adventure race field trips, coaching basketball, rugby and mountain biking and using lessons that promote building culture and getting to know students would all be on par with technology. Can technology be an effective tool to facilitate learning? Absolutely, but it is still only a piece of a very complex puzzle.
I think a teacher will look at the tools provided to them in the environment they teach in. Be it online, face to face, a school with a rich technology infrastructure or a school with limited technology opportunities. For instance, if a teacher were in an environment where they had no lab time or internet access for their class, they could improvise and use student hand held devices to bridge the gap or bring engaging technology opportunities into the classroom. As it is suggested in Jackie Gerstein's blog post "Mobile Learning and the Flipped classroom: The full picture", mobile devices can be used in multiple ways to personalize and provide students digital access to current information. As she demonstrates in her graphic, demonstration and application, experiential engagement, meaning making and concept exploration can all be achieved using these handheld devices.
In the high school French classroom, where I have been using iPods for the past 3 years, the video taking features of these devices is amazing for creating personalized projects. In addition in terms of providing a reflective tool for students language speaking, students are able to self-reflect on their statements, adapt and produce more authentic language. After collecting reflection statements from students over the past three years I have both witnessed and had students tell me that they are much more engaged using iPods or mobile learning devices compared to using a textbook. Now whether this is a facet of the "trendiness" or novelty of the device or whether a deeper learning bond is created because of the medium itself remains to be seen. However, I have no question that when used correctly mobile learning devices increases engagement in my classrooms.
In her article, "Flipped Classroom: Beyond the Videos"Catlin Tucker states,
I am disheartened to hear so many people describe the flipped classroom as a model where teachers
must record videos or podcasts for students to view at home. Too often the conversation surrounding
the flipped classroom focuses on the videos- creating them, hosting them, and assessing student
understanding of the content via simple questions or summary assignments.
For me, the beauty of the flipped classroom lies in the simple realization that instruction can take place in different mediums. This ultimately opens up increased possibilities for learning and/or improves on lecture style learning, as it gives the student the flexibility to uptake the information at their own pace. Again Tucker explains:
I agree with Blake-Plock’s assertion that ”It is perfectly fine to watch a video. It is perfectly fine to view
a lecture. It is perfectly fine to quiz yourself on what you remember from the video or the lecture. It is
perfectly fine to write a brief response about a big question. But let’s not call that a lesson. That’s just
a starting point. Lessons come from doing.” So why not pair the content with an activity that gets them
“doing” then imagine where you could start the actual class activity?
While lectures, be it face to face or video can lead to a construction of knowledge, that is only one part of much deeper learning process. Furthermore, I fear that when schools, school districts or governments attempt to institutionalize exciting trends like flipped classrooms or Khan's academy, they may be ignoring deeper learning functions.
Justin Marquis' article on flipping and expanding Bloom's taxonomy, was an engaging read and it got me to thinking, Does rote memory functions serve a diminished role in today's "Google Search" world? Or is rote memory still necessary for building higher level learning functions as is outlined in Bloom's original pyramid. A book I read by Nicholas Carr titled "The Shallows: What the internet is doing to our brains" suggests that the decreasing use of rote function and the dynamic and non-linear nature of internet reading is compromising our abilities to think and read deeply. Marquis' critique of the flipped Blooms model is therefore a powerful one. He states:
In order for students to truly embrace the creative process, they must feel that the product that they
are creating has real world value. This can be accomplished by linking the exercise to real clients or
by providing a public venue for sharing the finished work. This is one area in which the flipping of
Bloom’s Taxonomy begins to break down. It is ill-advised, if not impossible, to have students create
something with real meaning if they lack a fundamental understanding of the key components that
make what they are creating valuable.
Ultimately while I find both the original and the inverted Bloom's taxonomies interesting models. I find there are plagued with too many problems to be employed as a steadfast classroom model. For me a more cyclical unit based approach that focuses on authentic assessment provides a more useful model for my purposes. In Geoffrey Scheurman and Fred M. Newmann article, "Authentic Intellectual Work in Social Studies: Putting Performance Before Pedagogy" they outline three criteria necessary for authenticity: construction of knowledge, disciplined inquiry and value beyond school. When I apply this constructivist model to my French classroom, traditional forms of rote learning such vocabulary quizzes, still have their place, students still need to learn the basic skills (vocabulary acquisiton, sentence structure, speaking exercises and reading comprehension) in order to engage in inquiry and to ultimately produce a high quality authentic piece. Technology often plays a role in enhancing student engagement and personalization during these three stages. For instances there are some very effective iPod apps focused at helping students acquire vocabulary. Pedagogically these programs are considered relatively shallow as they are largely content based, but I would argue have their place in the construction of knowledge. Similarly in terms of presentation or sharing work in an open environment technology opens up tremendous possibilities in terms of providing an audience beyond school.
In conclusion, I would argue that the flipped classroom is another great learning tool afforded to us by technology. It allows for student personalization, access to information, self paced learning and can also provides flexibility to the teacher. In terms of constructing knowledge the Khan style videos are a powerful tool, allowing students to construct base knowledge to mastery. I enjoyed Khan's comparison to riding a bicycle, where the practice is mastered before moving to the next step. As Khan explains the flipped classroom theoretically removes the gaps that are often present in student learning when they rely on a face to face style lecturing. However this style of instruction only addresses a limited scope of student learning and therefore needs to be part of larger learning strategy that engages higher level functions, such as inquiry and authentic assessment.