Each week I am required to write a post for my EDUC 5105 class, so I thought I would take the time to reflect on the MOOC Materials in a Flipped or Blended Campus Classroom Environment lecture I attended via work.
The talk, given by Kevin Dunn, discussed creating a blended course via the benefit of the Ontario Online Initiative. He believes that adding blended learning elements to a class will enhance it. However, it requires clear communication with your class before and during the semester.
He explained that MOOCS are classes where you never see the instructor in person, face-to-face classes are completely synchronous, and blended classes are a mix of these two.
More specifically, he talked about how he teaches using a flipped classroom (blended model). With a flipped classroom, youu are taking something that is done in class, and moving it outside of the classroom (flip geography). This leads to a flip in time (in-class vs before and after class), and leads to a culture that is flexible, inquiry-based, and where student-responsibility is prevalent.
The talk about his flipped classroom then paused, allowing a mid-talk question period. Issues raised here were that:
- People find that people are no longer instructors when teaching online, but rather curators of information. People also find that people expect the professors to answer hard-to-answer questions on the fly.
- Some students think that only learning content is the same as in-class lecture material. They need to be taught to do both.
Once this question period was done, the professor moved on to discuss that a lot of students find the ability to post comments/questions anonymously a great thing (as they’re not afraid to post a “stupid question”). To create the course, it cost $45,000 CAD, and there are also ongoing costs to run it.
He also discussed how he had to change his approach to grading, and below is the face-to-face vs flip grade breakdown.
A pre-class quiz is always hosted, where 5-8 questions must be answered prior to class. Pre-class quizzes are intended to ensure students to come to class ready with questions, and ready to absorb knowledge. For the professor, it allows him to find gaps in their knowledge and create targeted, in-class activities. Feedback is given from the quiz, and encourages them to review explanations afterwards.
He also stated that for in-class activities, you need to set the tone immediately. You immediately demonstrate how the course operates, as it alleviates confusion amongst students. Many are not familiar with this flipped/blended model, so you need to clarify how it works as soon as possible, and explain what your expectations are.
One of the greatest issues he found as an instructor is that delivering a face-to-face lecture allows him to observe and react to students’ body language. If they looked confused about an explanation, he can immediately elaborate for them. However a video that does not illustrate a concept well is difficult to re-do in a timely manner. (Personal note: I find this odd, as you could use a webcam. He did said he would not do this, as wants it professionally done. This seems to but his idea of self-presentation before student learning).
Ultimately, he finds students often want to be lectured to in a class (social) setting.
I thought the idea of students wanting to be lectured in class being quite the opposite of the idea that educators now feel as if they’re curators (as opposed to educators) in an online classroom. If students prefer obtaining knowledge via a lecture, and professors don’t feel like they are simply curating during a face-to-face class, is it not beneficial to both of them to continue an in-class lecture?
This may be one of the benefits of a blended-model compared to a completely online class. This is perhaps why blended learning is seen as superior to pure online learning as well (US Department of Education). Going forward, I’ll try to implement instructional design that relies on the strength of both synchronous and asynchronous learning.
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development, Evaluation of evidence-based practices in online Learning: A Meta-analysis and review of online learning studies, Washington, D.C., 2010. http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/tech/evidence-based-practices/finalreport.pdf