Thursday, May 23, 2013

I’m always seeking to try new techniques in the classroom. I want to engage students so they are not dozing off, texting, or blowing off class entirely. The office that focuses on teaching improvement sends a lot of email invitations to workshops and webinars that showcase innovative strategies. I toyed with the idea of applying for one of their incentives late last fall, and if chosen that would have meant “flipping my classroom.” After thinking about it, I decided not to bother. The incentive was an ipad (which I didn’t care about), but more influential, I didn’t want to make the afternoon section of my foundations class different from the evening section, the way I had when I piloted the hybrid class design in 2008.

I was still curious about the idea of “flipping my classroom,” though, so I signed up to watch a real-time streaming video of a panel discussing their experiences. It convinced me I had made the right decision, as I do not care for one of the required aspects of “flipping my classroom.” Students complete a multiple choice quiz on the reading before class, during class they complete a discussion activity or case study in teams, then they take the same quiz again, after class. The quizzes are designed to be difficult, so that students don’t do well the first time they take them.

I could envision 100 angry emails after every quiz, with students disputing the outcome or demanding a re-do. No thanks!

What I like about the model is that all lecture, reading, slideshows are completed outside of the classroom, and that students use almost all class time to work on a case study, project or discussion. The in-class activities have to be appropriately designed; they have to be straightforward, so all teams can work on the same thing. Reportedly, students love the in-class dynamics – provided there are no slackers on the team (for some reason recommends team size is 7+, a number I consider to be unwieldy).

I’m using both ideas in the blended class. (Except not teams of seven; teams of five.) No time will be spent on chalk & talk, or at least very little time will be. And the webinars will always have the same format and goal: students come prepared with ideas, discuss them within team, share them with all class.

No comments: