Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Flippin’ heck –is the whole of education doing things backwards?

The TES has just published an article on ’flipped learning’ with views from myself, Salman Khan and others. My first point was that flipped learning is not new. The Open University has been doing it for over 40 years. “They let you learn in your time through the materials they provide and the tutors are there to help and close the knowledge gaps”. However, “we have only just started to explore this. It is literally thinking outside the box, the box in this case being the classroom” or lecture hall”.
Out of the box that is the classroom
Additionally I stated that, “we should be taking technology out of classrooms so they can be used for their intended purpose – learning”. Why? The classroom is a cramped box crammed full of alternatives targets for attention, “an incredibly awkward environment in which to learn because of all the distractions”. Conversely, “the trouble with a lot of homework (awful word)…is that kids get stuck because there’s little or no help at home”. So why not flip them and do the straight exposition at home, and formative learning in the classroom?
Trapped in fossilised pedagogies
The problem is that teachers and lecturers have become trapped in fossilised pedagogies – quite simply, huge dollops of talking at people in the classroom and lecture hall. To be fair, expectations of institutions, expectations of students, job titles (lecturer), buildings, budgets and quality evaluations, all target the fossilised model. So there will only be change when there’s a “concerted effort to change the fundamentals…. You have to redesign your course from scratch and not just add technology. It should be a compulsory part of teacher training to use technology in innovative ways”.
Don’t talk – teach
I’ve blogged on flipped learning before, extolling its sensible approach to the use of technology in learning – DON’T PUT TECHNOLOGY IN CLASSROOMS, use classrooms to teach through formative assessment. The internet has given us more pedagogic shift than the entire cadre of educationalists over the last century. First text (Wikipedia), then audion(podcasts) and then ubiquitious video, along with links and interaction, have all given us the opportutnity to learn the basics online. What we need from teachers is teaching – namely constructive feedback.
Flip and force them to teach
To be honest, ‘flipped learning’ is merely a species of ‘blended learning’, just one of many possible blends. What makes it such a great fit in education, is the obsession with the lecture or talking at people in classrooms. If you can’t get people to stop reading at you for hours in a lecture hall or classroom, and calling it ‘contact time’, do something radical, get them to stop the madness, flip it, and force them to teach.


Tristram Shepard said...

Donald - I'm usually in full agreement with you onthe things you write in your blog, but I'm yet to be convinced about the Khan Academy and Flipping the Classroom. I thought you should know that I've just posted my thoughts here: http://tristramshepard.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/flippin-tech/
with a cross-link to your blog.

As always I'm just trying to be a bit controversial to stimulate debate.

Please feel free to add a comment!

All the best


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Unknown said...

Tasks today are done easily because of the power of technology. It is no surprise that educators like to use the technology in educating people. Sometimes it is misuse which affects negatively the involve individuals. I hope we can take advantage of it correctly.