Have You Flipped??????


In previous posts, I spoke of the concept of “flipping” your classroom. I invite you to join me for this mini-series on the concept of homework in the classroom and lecture at home. The next three posts will deal with that practice in greater depth as well as giving you some concrete tools to accomplish it.

If you are like me, at some point in your elementary school years you were introduced to the infamous “word math problem”. It started something like this: “If a train leaves New York traveling at 70 mph and another leaves Los Angeles traveling at 60 miles a hour, what will be their speed when they impact?” Impact? Speed? I’m thinking, “is the scene safe, BSI, etc…”
I seemed to understand how to solve this type of problem as long as I was in the classroom. But as soon as I got home, it seemed that someone had shaken my head like an Etch a Sketch so that anything that I “thought” I knew in class vaporized. Flipping the classroom holds great hope for teachers being able to be available at any time.

In the flipped classroom, educators record and post video lectures for their students to watch as part of their out of classroom homework. Instructors record video lectures that are NO MORE than 15 minutes in length. It is best if the videos address one topic per video. This can be done with software and apps that are addressed in part three of this blog posting. When students get to class, they focus on the parts of the lesson that they struggle with as well as allowing more hands on time for skills.

I would strongly advise that instructors who wish to flip the classroom choose quality over quantity. Trying to record all topics and launch them simultaneously could lead to disastrous burnout. In addition, using the online discussion tool students are able to interact with peers as well as instructors for additional assistance. After viewing the lectures, students then use the in class time to work on assignments, practical skills and other activities that are enhanced with the actual presence of the instructor. This practice turns in class time into an active learning activity than simply passively listening to lectures.

Using online tools to turn the classroom upside down has seen incredible growth over the past few years especially with the advent of the Khan Academy. The tools used for this endeavor vary from podcasts, to the capture of both screen and audio of the instructor. Some of the apps allow the student to take notes directly from the lecture as well as allowing the instructor to embed quizzes in the lecture. The results can be emailed directly to the instructor upon completion of the module.

Supporters say that using the flipped concept allows more one on one time with the student who might be struggling while those students who have mastered the lesson can be used to help mentor others. In addition, being able to pause, work, rewind, and review the recorded lessons allows them to learn at their own pace. In areas of the country that are prone to severe weather, or with students who must be absent because of illness or other issues, the recorded lectures prove a benefit to staying on schedule with your lessons. Once the lessons have been recorded, it requires a minimum of time and effort to maintain them.

One of the mantras found in EMS is the “See one, do one, teach one”. A concept that EMS educators must keep at the forefront is that of enhancing the leadership abilities of their students. Encouraging students who easily grasp classroom concepts allows those students to help others, potentially planting a seed to grow into a future EMS educator.

Critics say that teaching be video is still teaching by lecture, the least effective method of teaching. The answer to this argument is that all learning involves some component of lecture. If all we are going to do is to require the student to “watch” the video and nothing else, then the argument is a valid one. However, the passive part of the learning takes place outside of the classroom to allow time in class for the active part. The active section of learning takes place in the classroom when the instructor is available to help direct the psychomotor section of the learning.

Some may also say that the use of the video lecture removes the personal interaction between the student and instructor. I would disagree with this and put forth that, on the contrary, it increases it. Using the flipped concept allows the instructor to have more one on one time during the scheduled class thus increasing the face to face time between the two. In the flipped classroom the instructor can provide the lesson content to the student prior to meeting face to face. The student reviews the information at his or her own pace. This allows the face to face contact to be more meaningful as well as…dare I say it…fun! The instructor generally will then have more time to go into greater detail about questions that the students might have. Students also tend to have more time to discuss and get into greater detail about the lesson. Students who are struggling can now have much more in the way of one on one directed help.

So…have you tried flipping the classroom? What problems did you encounter? If you haven’t tried it yet, what holds you back? Post your comments and questions here and let’s help each other along the journey.

Part 2, the nuts and bolts of how to start flipping, coming on Tuesday.


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