Monday, November 25, 2013

Blended Learning: Personalizing Education for Students (final assignment)

The purpose of this assignment is to “try out” blended learning in a classroom or school setting. You may try one of the methods highlighted during the course so far, try something you’ve seen someone else doing elsewhere, or even try something you’ve been dreaming up and never had an excuse to attempt. 

During my undergraduate years in studying in the field of education, I have read something about next to church, education is the second institution that remains traditional or is slow in terms of keeping up with the times. There are still people (most likely including my own parents), who think of classroom learning where all the knowledge and information are provided or spoon-fed by the teachers. I can't blame them for thinking that way because there are still a lot of schools (probably majority of them, even) here in the Philippines that are "traditional". Which is also one of the reasons why I seemingly can't find a place for myself.

Change is going to be hard. But changes are also good. They say, that most teachers teach the way how they were taught when they were in school. Now, that poses as a problem. Because times have changed and we need to "keep up with the times."

An innovation I want to propose to the teachers here in the Philippines, is a small change that they will be able to quickly implement realistically and yet will have dramatic effects in student experiences and learning.

Through my readings about online education, I have been introduced to the concept of a "Flipped Classroom". By general definition, a flipped classroom is when students do at home what they usually do in the classroom and they do in the classroom what they usually do at home. Therefore the concept of being "flipped".

I think it all started when Salman Khan of Khan Academy uploaded math tutorial videos for his cousins (watch his TED Talk Video embedded below) and then he received comments from teachers who used his video as supplement in learning Math. Then teachers had given these videos of Khan, as a homework. So that when the students come in school, they can just do the exercises and work on clarifications about the lesson. Lectures, are done at home. And Homework, are done at school. Flipped.

Salman Khan: Let's use video to reinvent education

I like this idea because it can be applied in schools immediately. Without the need to buy tablets or rearrange classrooms or renovate the school to adapt with technology supported environment. All the teachers have to do is change their lesson plans and instead of giving worksheets as homework, they can ask students to go to you tube and watch a series of videos. They can learn at their own pace, rewind and pause lectures.

Of course, coming from a third world country, this isn't applicable yet in all schools because some students don't have access to the technology needed. But there are already a lot of schools who can implement this. If some teachers integrate the use of Facebook Groups or Google research in their classrooms, then they can definitely ask students to watch these videos outside the classroom hours.

In addition, I like the idea of a Flipped Classroom because teachers can maximize their classroom time in identifying which of the students are behind the lesson or those who need extra help. In traditional classrooms, most of the time are wasted in lectures. And if a student does not understand the lesson, the tendency of the teacher is to repeat the lecture all over again. This type of traditional teaching leaves little time for actual application of the lesson and the tendency is that "seatworks" generally become homeworks instead. What happens to the student who doesn't understand the lesson? He will go home and struggle in doing his homework. Most students would ask people in their homes for help, but sometimes they also have no idea or have a vague clue.

In a flipped classroom, students will watch lectures in his own time and pace (of course the job of choosing videos that are quality is upon the teacher's judgement and discretion or they may opt to make their own videos if they prefer). Students who still have questions about the concepts or lecture, will then come to class having those questions ready at hand. And the best part is that they will have people who are "experts" on the topic, such as classmates or teacher. Classroom time now is spent mostly on clarification and gaining mastery of the lesson, instead of repetitive lectures. In this scenario, students who are advanced can help classmates who are falling behind. Teachers will have time to give extra attention to struggling students as well.

The role of the teacher here, definitely changes. Instead of doing lectures in the classroom, the teacher becomes a consultant instead. Students learn on their own and consult the teacher if they have clarifications or want to confirm what they have learn from the videos.

Learning of the students become their responsibility. They own their learning because they are independently watching the videos and they become independent learners. They can control the pace their are learning and even opt to search for other sources which can supplement their understanding of the lesson. This flipped classroom technique will teach students that they do independent learning This skill is very important because when students graduate, they wont have teachers to spoon fed information to them anymore. They should develop that skill and habit that they can search for information and learn things on their own.

In this day of age, there is an overwhelming free information that is easily accessed by anybody. The skill that one needs to develop is to know which of these information are useful and reliable and are true. Students also need to learn how to verify information or know where to look for the right information. A flipped classroom will help them learn such skills..

The best part is (I have to repeat this again).. teachers can readily implement this next monday.. or even tomorrow.. They don't need to propose to the school to buy tablets or new computers or build a new classroom. They can work around with the current resources that they have and make big impacts on student learning.

I sometimes wish that I had experienced this in my own classroom. I guess this is similar to those "reading homeworks" that I never really read when I was a student. But not so similar because it's not blending technology. Just a couple of heavy boring texts (or tons of them), that are photo-copied in black and white. Not fun at all. But watching youtube videos as homework??? Now you have a reason to tell mom why you are on youtube on a weekday.

*Updated February 1, 2014: The essay above was for my Final Assignment on Blended Learning MOOC in Coursera. I'm updating this blog post to add on my thoughts about Flipped Classroom. This is a comment I made in one of my MOOC Facebook groups (i.e. in Rhizo14) regarding "Flipped Classroom" being a buzzword and sensationalized in mainstream media.

1 comment:

  1. comments from evaluators

    peer 2 → Dear Coursera student! Thank you for your blog post. I enjoyed reading it and I agree with you when you said that the school system changes way too slowly and that we should keep up with new developments more rapidy. I also like how you explained the idea of the flipped classroom. However, I still think that only videos are not enough to really personalize the content and that even without appropriate technology some principles of blended learning could be implemented (e.g. more interactive content, a project-based learning, a station-rotation model with only one computer, instead of a computer even some reference material such as books,maps, newspapers or magazines could be used perhaps...).
    peer 3 → Your blog clearly identify the operational side of a Flipped Classroom, however, you may like to also consider how you would structure/facilitate the classroom environment to further personalise the learning experience of student. What will you do with those students who already have 'mastered' content based on the video lesson? How will you structure extension work for them or idenitfy and target those student who still require additional help? Best of luck!