About Me

Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Flipped Classroom: My project for this semester

I know I haven't blogged for a while. Partly it is because I have been busy participating in commencement (it's official, I'm a Dr. and I have a picture to show for it), partly its family responsibilities (I AM in the sandwich generation), but mostly its because I'm working on some very interesting projects.

The first is a blog I have started with my sister, a 50 something who I convinced should learn more about social media. With this in mind we have started a blog in which she posts questions as she navigates the ins and outs of social media (getting stuck, confused, and otherwise frustrated) and I try to answer her questions.

The second is part of a program I was chosen for through my university: the flipped classroom. Honestly, one of the main reasons I applied for the program was to get an ipad I could use for my classes and figure out the technology my students all seem have at their fingers tips. This was a smart move on the part of our Leaning and Instruction Center to get us into the door.

The fact is, I wasn't sure I'd be accepted for the program. After reading through the information and watching the videos they sent us about the "flipped classroom" movement (see below for those resources), I wasn't sure I'd be able to change my class much since my current teaching approach (based on experiential learning theories)seemed to "flip" the class so students had a lot of control over their learning. However, as I discussed "flipped learning" and read some of the background information on it, I realized there was a key weakness in one of my classes especially.

For the last 3 years, I have been having an increasing difficulty in getting students to link what we do in class to the assigned readings. Now granted, some of this is students not doing the assigned work. However, many times I would see the frustration of my best students who would look at me blankly when I asked them to link the reading concepts to class activities. I could see in their body language the question: Why are you here? Aren't YOU going to tell us what is important? Why aren't you teaching us? What do you mean there is no right or wrong answer???? What are we PAYING YOU FOR? HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO KNOW THIS IF YOU DON'T TEACH US !!!!!!????

I don't blame the students for being unable to make the links, but rather have identified the problem as years of education where testing for the "correct answer" has been drummed into them. The results of this type of teaching is that students are afraid to take risks (they get it wrong, they fail) with their learning; they are unable to develop hypotheses and/or are not confident in their own abilities to draw their own conclusions; and they look to resources and teachers to tell them how to interpret information. Many of my students just had never had their critical thinking, critical reading, and problem solving skills developed so they were able to make the links between the reading and active learning activities.

So my goal for this semester is to:

1) Develop my skills in teaching them critical thinking, problem solving, and critical reading

2) Make the links I make between the activities and reading more transparent, so my students learn to make those links also

3) Rework my syllabus and class activities so students feel safe in making mistakes, yet learn from the activities and apply assigned reading concepts to those activities.

To do this, the learning team I am working with has suggested I use clickers (helps focus reading and promote discussion around questions), video recordings to summarize the most important concepts (or fill in spaces of understanding) from the reading, and (my idea) use the video recording capacity of the ipad to record specific examples from class activities, that the class can then review and critique.

Hopefully, throughout the semester, I'll be able to blog about the process. Already I'm working on writing objective questions that will provoke discussion. I also have gained a better insight into the tone of a syllabus and how it can empower students (or take away their choices, and therefore responsibility, for learning).


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