A College Teacher’s Reflection on Flipped Classrooms
“Trying anything new is risky. Will this flipped classroom thing work? …. But I am anticipating the rewards will far outweigh the amount of work it’s taking. I am anticipating that the experience will be much, much richer for both my students and myself.” – from Suze Murphys, a college teacher on her flipped class.
She has been working in media and communications for 23 years. Now one of her career is an instructor at Algonquin College in Ottawa, teaching in both the full time Interactive Multimedia Developer program and the Continuing Education Social Media Certificate program. She flipped her video production course, which had been seriously re-designed for the different approach. These are a series of her reflections on her flipped classroom. She shared some of the ways to do it, from the nuts and bolts of creating the videos to integrating them to her curriculum. All the content in her website SuzeMuse is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution.
The big up side of this is that it levels the playing field for learners. Now that everyone can learn at their own pace (instead of my pace as lecturer), it’s automatically more comfortable for everyone. Being able to pause, stop, rewind and review the material is an essential step to getting things down. The old model put the students in a position of familiarity – there was only ever enough time for them to get familiar with the concepts, because their homework time was limited to what they could balance with everything else going on. Now, their homework time is somewhat more finite – just enough time to go through and learn the concepts – and their classroom time is devoted to mastering the concepts through application. There’s more than familiarity. There’s the potential for mastery.
- The video toolkit she used
- Why she chosed to create all new videos instead of just Googling up some tutorials on YouTube
- Why she choosed to build a site in WordPress that is just hosted off her personal domain instead of using BlackBoard LMS only.
What if students don’t hold up their end of the deal? …
I tell them that success in my class is easy, provided they make these deals with me:
Deal #1: You and I will both show up to class on time.
Deal #2: Neither of us will text or chat on the phone during class.
Deal #3: You keep your eyes to the front of the class when I ask (i.e. no surfing, Facebooking etc.) and I’ll make sure there’s always something interesting going on.
Deal #4: You do the assigned homework and complete your assignments on time, and I’ll be there to help you when you need it.
Isn’t it a lot more work?
Yes, it’s a pile more work. I’ve spent several days in the past few weeks restructuring my entire course, recording and editing bunch of videos, posting them to YouTube, setting up a blog, scheduling the posts, tweaking my presentations, and integrating everything to the BlackBoard LMS….But I am anticipating the rewards will far outweigh the amount of work it’s taking. I am anticipating that the experience will be much, much richer for both my students and myself. After 12 weeks in this environment, they will not just be familiar with the concepts. They will have created and achieved things that they can be proud of.
A relaxed class means relaxed students.
One of the things I teach in my video production class is Adobe Premiere Pro, a professional video editing software. For the uninitiated, it can be a daunting and complicated tool to learn. There are lots of steps and plenty of room for error if you’re new at it. It can be a frustrating learning curve. I used to teach the software by standing at the front of the class, pointing and clicking at things, while students tried to follow along. The result was usually three groups – the ones who were bored because I was moving too slowly, the ones who were lost because I was moving too fast, and the ones in the middle (usually by far the smallest group) who got it on the first try….
Perhaps the best result happened to me today, when a student came up to me and said that he really appreciated this “flipped classroom”, that it’s allowing him to be more relaxed, confident and creative.
With your course goals imagined in mind before structuring your courses, will you flip your class ? Why or why not ?