Monday, 21 October 2013

How to create a flipped classroom. Episode 1.

I have officially joined the flipped classroom show. Having read a lot the last couple of weeks on the impact it can have on learning (watch this video for motivation) I have decided to engage with this. For those relatively new to this concept, flipped learning involves creating materials for students to learn outside of the classroom which in-turn lets the lecturer focus on homework tasks in the classroom and support the individuals who may need extra help on one particular topic. I can go into more detail here and provide more of an insight to this topic but the web is full of information on flipped classrooms. This entry, and future ones, are designed to create a blue-print for anyone looking to engage with similar approaches.

During the past 4 -5 weeks, once I knew that I would engage with this project, the following questions continually went around in my head:

  • How can I get the buy-in from the students?
  • What ways can I demonstrate that this approach is not me making my own life easier as a teacher (from a student perspective)?
  • What if a student is stuck before the classroom session?
  • How will I run the classroom session?

Not all of these questions are answered, for a particular reason we shall view later. I'll try and go through each question.

How can I get the buy-in from the students?

Firstly, I wanted to make sure that the students understood why I wanted to use this method. I didn't want to force anything upon them so I sold them the history of education and how it is evolving in our time. Once we discussed this we then watched the video above. I found this lovely little resource on Explee. It does cost to use but you can gain free credits by sharing on social media and adding friends. Not something I would use every week but really useful for something that is a one-off, as is this video.

After all of this material I then told the students we would vote on which way to progress with the unit. Flipped learning or traditional classroom delivery. Again, I was eager for it not all to be on me. I didn't want the group to feel that they were being made to do something that they were not really keen on. I wanted to empower them. Every single student voted to progress with the flipped approach. They are all completing questionnaires and I am keen to monitor the impact throughout the academic year.

What ways can I demonstrate that this approach is not me making my own life easier as a teacher (from a student perspective)?

I have read various approaches on flipped learning and stumbled on student feedback a few times. Some comments focus on the teacher not providing the appropriate materials but also on the fact that some did just not see the merits of this approach. With this in mind, I really wanted to spend time making the VLE page really stimulating. I created a VOKI that would serve as an online support guide. Again, this would show the group how I am taking it seriously and evidence the bespoke approach I am taking.

I have also started to use some interactive resources. Below is an example of one using flipsnack. I saved PowerPoint slides as PDF and could then convert them into an e-book. Each activity finished with a questionnaire, as you can see, through PurposeGames. The feedback on this is really positive. 

What if a student is stuck before the classroom session?

This is an obvious question but one I really pondered. I don't want the student feeling like they are not being supported. I went with the Bear theme and decided to create a twitter account and specific hashtag for them to be supported. This is now embedded into the VLE site and they can communicate in that fashion. Whilst the Bear is slightly "cheesy" in its approach, it has already enthused some of the students.

How will I run the classroom session?

To be honest, I still don't know about this one. I was astonished to see and read so much on flipped learning but there is no real guidance on how to approach the classroom session. As it stands, I'll have to go with my intuition but it does concern me about the lack of response I got on this subject. I even sent the tweet below and had no response!