To Flip or Not to Flip

This week’s topic is Flipped Classroom. I’ve been toying around with the idea of flipping some of my lectures for my high school Anatomy and Physiology course.

First, a little background. Currently, each new unit is introduced via content-heavy PowerPoints on day 1. Sometimes, day 2 is a continuation of the lecture. Days 3 and 4 are devoted to reinforcing concepts introduced through hands-on activities and/or games. Day 5 is review. Day 6 is test. So far, this layout has worked out well, but as I find that I am rushing through the lectures so I can have enough time for fun activities. I also realize that repetition is key to helping students learn this material. However, there’s currently not enough class time for me to go over the materials or to check for their understanding until review day.

I believe flipping my lectures will be helpful for my students. This way, students are to watch about 15 – 30 min of video for homework. In class, we can go over questions they have from the lectures, and spend more time on the activities to reinforce their learning.

Recently, a friend introduced me to Explain Everything App for the iPad. This seems like a fairly easy tool to narrate and annotate my lectures. I’m hoping to spend time this summer to flip my lectures in preparation for my Fall courses.

Back in the Fall, YouTube added the ability to post questions/polls into videos you’ve created. It’s in Beta testing, and it looks like the feature may have been removed recently. Thus, I’m super excited about the new site. I can post my lectures on YouTube, then add questions using – awesome!

Open Education, Intellectual Property, and Fair Use

The topic of Open Education is definitely on the burner in recent months. I’m a believer that education is a right for everyone – and everyone should have access to education. Open education resources such as iTunes U, Khan Academy, and MIT OpenCourseWare definitely allow increased access to higher education. However, as increasingly more information are being posted on the Internet, the inevitable discussion of intellectual property and fair use must come into play.

As an educator, I hope that this increased access to education will result in innovation.  But how do we foster innovation while suppressing plagiarism? This is where Creative Commons come into play. As more information is free and open for users to remix and recreate, we will be able to foster more innovation while still crediting the original sources.

I realize that many textbook publishers are struggling to find a balance in this digital age where users don’t want to pay a dime for content. I believe that publishers should charge a license fee for the school for the use of eBooks, but should not restrict how students use the content. Students should be free to create their own mashups and post it online – this is a way for students to show that they’ve internalized their learning and made it their own. However, if a student starts to distribute the said content for monetary gain, that would be wrong. It’s also our job as teachers to ensure that students are aware of the ethics and etiquettes involved when posting their own work online.

Last semester, one of my students did an amazing job re-mixing a very famous pop song into an asthma public service announcement. My student re-wrote the lyrics so that the song would educate the public about asthma, how it manifests itself, and how it can be treated. She sang the newly written song herself to the tunes of this very famous song. It was one of the most touching and well-crafted project I’ve seen as a teacher. She also cited the sources for pictures and song credits. I have since passed on the video to my friend, a pediatric pulmonologist, to help educate her newly diagnosed asthma patients. This is an example of of a stellar student using her talents and gifts. I want to foster this energy in my classroom. Without open and free resources, this creative energy will be snuffed and where will our future be?

Khan Academy as OER

For the OER assignment, our group decided to review Khan Academy’s series on Unit Conversions with focus on Converting Gallons to quarts pints and cups.

Sal Khan has an innate gift in explaining concepts for ease of understanding. It helps that each video covering each sub-topic is short (usually about 5 – 10 min). For each sub-topic, he presents a questions/word problem. Then Khan explains each step involved in solving the problems. Often times, he supports his verbal explanations with diagrams to help the visual learners.

Overall, this is one of the best OER offered at the moment. This Unit Conversion topic is actually one of the first he started to help his cousin through distance tutoring, and resulted in him started the Khan Academy.

It would be nice if there were additional embedded questions grouped by sub-topics for additional practice. In math, it’s important to provide the learner with a variety of questions to allow for mastery of skills.


The OESIS Factor

After spending 2 full days with other independent school educators from all over the US with varying expertise in online education, I couldn’t help but observe the following:

Online learning presents itself in many different forms:

  • Individual vs. cohort programs
  • Synchronous vs. asynchronous
  • Competency-based learning vs. fixed time, variable learning
  • Discussion forums vs chats
  • 1:1 vs small groups vs lectures

With all of these options, many are asking:

  • Is blended better than fully online?
  • What’s the best LMS?
  • What’s the best collaboration tool?

And the answer… “IT DEPENDS!”

It depends on:

  • Size of schools
  • Students’ needs
  • Teachers’ needs
  • Teachers’ goals and objectives
  • … and money.

I did learn a ton of new ideas from the sessions I attended. The take home message couldn’t have been stated more simply by Michael Horn during his keynote:

Personalized learning and DIY education will disrupt the future of tradition school

And as educators, how will be leverage the technology available to use to foster learning in our students?