Recently, you might have seen this infographic on flipping the classroom. If not, read through it, then come back to this post. Go ahead. I’ll wait. This post won’t make much sense otherwise (unless you’re already familiar with the concept of flipping the classroom).
Purdue’s IMPACT project, in which I’m deeply involved, is helping some faculty essentially do this. Specifically, there are several faculty who now deliver lectures online and expect the student to have watched/listened to it as homework. They’re more the sage on the screen now, but in class, they are truly facilitating learning, rather than simply delivering knowledge, through activities and group work. Further, when the “homework” lecture is combined with real-world application in an activity in class, it results in a more engaged classroom and a better understanding of the material for the students.
I’m not sure it’s the end-all, be-all for education though.
The infographic indicates that students are less frustrated because they can work on lessons, problems, activities, etc., in class, with the instructor present. That assumes that they actually watched the video(s), and in doing so, that the videos provided
a) sufficient information to address/facilitate said lessons,activities, etc., and
b) that the videos themselves were not confusing.
The latter is important, because if the messages are confusing, the activity portion of the class gets derailed by questions and clarifications.
However, even given the possible shortcomings of this approach, the notion that one-size-fits-all does not work in education is extraordinarily true; the more options for learning we can provide students, the greater the opportunity to choose what’s right for them – provided that we can show the efficacy of each method as each relates to specific/desired/required learning outcomes for the course.
To me, however, the graphic represents a somewhat dichotomous nature of the professoriate when it comes to instruction.
On one hand, you have, in general, the traditional lecture/recitation that most of our classes use. The instructor is the purveyor of information, the students the recipients – what Paolo Freire would term banking education, wherein the instructor deposits information into the students. In some cases there is some collaborative learning, even some Freirian students-as-teachers/teachers-as-students activity or problem-posing education occurring, but generally not.
On the other hand, though, there exists scenarios where the instructor acts as a guide. A faculty member could adopt the use of technology, say, something like Course Signals. Lecture is delivered, homework, quizzes and tests are graded, and a message regarding standing in the course is sent… and then the instructor becomes the guide, by helping students understand where they can go for additional assistance or how they might do better in the course.
In the end, regardless of the depth of a course redesign, we’re attempting to influence the learning environment, either through a direct alteration (via the redesign process), by pointing students to resources that they are able to use to improve their performance (via an early warning system intervention), or by implementing various technologies that can affect the manner in which faculty teach and students learn. The hope is for pedagogical change that incorporates multiple types of instruction, multiple types of interaction, and multiple types of outcomes measures that, when combined, result in increased success and understanding of materials.
Ultimately, I guess my question is this: How do we get the current users to understand the pedagogy behind, or inherent in, the technologies they choose to adopt – or even just the ones available to them? Further, is it possible for us to view various technologies as pedagogy in and of themselves, rather than a means to alter or influence pedagogy?
Do we need to get there? If so, how do we get there? And what happens when we arrive?
I don’t have the answers here… but if you have some thoughts, please share them below.