Monday, December 22, 2014

Do students like it flipped?

If a teacher "flips" a course, obviously that teacher believes it is a useful thing to do. Rarely would a teacher go through the work to completely revamp a course without thinking it is to their students' benefit. But, what do students think?

Personally, I received an overwhelmingly positive response. Anecdotally, I had three students mention how much they liked being able to watch lectures at home, skipping ones they already knew, and reviewing areas of difficulty. Another students mentioned that he used the online lectures to review before tests, and the usage logs bear this out.

In addition, there were some great comments in the evaluations*. Some of those comments (the more instructive and exciting are listed below:

  • The Moodle videos that Matthew prepares for his students as a review are very helpful. Even if we miss a class we can understand them.
  • This teacher is really good. He do a lot of activities to practice all the topics and to involve all the students during the class.
  • I have had class of listening and speaking with Ms. Showman before in the last term, and I did not like so much, but I always notice your effort and interest in class. Now in Grammar and Writing I love his classes. Also it is important to say that his videos in moodle are SO helpful and great. I am learning grammar as never before. And he is so kind and patient with our questions. Your organization is amazing.

Of course, not every student connects well with a given method. Below is a criticism** of the method and, I suppose, me:

  • The teacher explain most of his ideas using Moodle website by uploading videos. I think it is better to explain the lecture materials inside the class, an that help us understand and ask some questions that could help us. I think the teacher try to escape from the questions that students could ask during the lecture. There is no interesting because there is no questions, ideas, and interactions during the lecture, and that because most of lecture materials that we study are online.

My reaction to this: I need to make the purpose of a flipped class even more explicit. Given that my class was questions-focused, given that I began every lesson by eliciting their questions, given that I assigned homework with the instruction that students were to write down any and all questions, I find it hard to believe that the student thinks I try to avoid questions and interactions.

That said, I know I can also make adjustments to make it clear that questions are not only welcome, but necessary to our class. I will need to be more explicit when explaining that the whole point of online lectures is to maximize time for questions and inquiries.

Onward we go!

Evaluations are done anonymously and without course instructors present.
** Two administration aspects not related to flipped instruction were omitted.

Coming Soon: My own reactions

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Flipping it

This past term I made a decision to "flip" my classroom.

I wasn't thinking about "flipping" when I did it. It was something I simply fell into.

A day or two before the term started, I was daydreaming about how my grammar lessons could be delivered more effectively. Between the cognitive psych research I read and my own experience of giving in-class introductions to grammar concepts, introductions that didn't seem all that useful anyway, I thought there must be a better way.

Suddenly it dawned on me that I had both Moodle and Blackboard at my disposal. I had Google Drive/Docs, which I was already using for in-class activities. I knew how to shoot videos from my laptop and Moto X, which I'd already been using to create materials for Listening/Speaking class. Everything I needed was quite literally at my fingertips.

What if I made short videos of the grammar lessons and hosted them on Drive? What if I posted all of these in Moodle or Blackboard? What if I wrote online quizzes to both (a) ensure students were interacting with the materials and (b) assess which points students were having difficulty with before ever entering the classroom? What if I focused in-class attention on those points? What if in-class grammar lesson time was focused completely on students' questions, practice, and quizzing? What if I never lectured at all?

It's not my personality to do something little-by-little. I'm not one to say "If I have time, then...".
No, if I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it.

This was a busy term. If I wasn't prepping materials or marking homework or grading assessments, I was writing and shooting videos and writing hundreds of quiz questions. In the end, however, I had a course that excited me, excited (most) students, and left me satisfied. Over this winter break, I will be reshooting some vids and I'll be revising some materials, but as a whole it was a great experience.

Coming Soon: Reactions, both my students' and my own.