(Initial) Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali's blog has now moved to http://blog.mahabali.me


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Social media friends are my new books: re-flipping the flip

Today, my thoughts have been inspired by a combination of things that happened on social media. This is a terribly non-linear post (interestingly, a discussion on linearity of English-language writing vs others happened today at work; lots of comments will be in italics in this post because they will interrupt the linear flow, but my thinking just ain’t linear right now and am reserving the linearity for my more formal stuff). I find this very interesting because I had a pretty stimulating two days at work, face-to-face, but what I want to blog about, what excites me enough to stimulate the writing of the blog piece, is stuff that happened online. As Lenandlar commented on a previous blog, our new online friends are the new books we now read passionately every day. (I remembered a day early on in rhizo14 when i said i was enjoying the escape to rhizo14 on the weekend (a bad one for Egypt it was) better than reading a novel, and that was saying a lot coz I love reading novels). And I don’t just mean reading their blogs, but even shorter interactions like on twitter and comments on my blog, etc.

So… To keep this post relatively short (or not, I haven’t finished it yet): I was never happy with the whole “flipped classroom” thing because
A. I almost never lecture myself anyway, so flipping that is meaningless

And

B. i think people who do lecture intensively would not necessarily be creative enough to know what to do when they flip. Am sure some people will have things they want to try out and will find time when flipping happens. It can be liberating, I am sure, but it is not in itself a pedagogically sound idea unless you think about it pedagogically (and that is the topic of this post, which I will get to in a minute)

And

C. Good lecturing was never one-way. There are great lecturers who insert minimal questions to students in the middle of their lecture, but use those to help them pace themselves, modify their plan. Besides that, even in a lecture without questions, if a class is small enough, involves making eye contact, seeing whether students understand or not. It is interruptible. A video-taped one is not. I have seen some great MOOC videos, however, by experienced teachers, who did a good job of asking themselves questions a student would typically ask, and proceeding to answer them (reminds me of some really good teachers who used to do the Egyptian barameg ta3leemeyya, i.e. educational programming on TV for school kids). It is doable but not everyone can do it.

(Btw, I a, writing this post in such a non-linear manner it is ridiculous, reminding me of my feeling about my PhD – apparently Barry Dyck from rhizo14 also had trouble making his thesis into a linear one; just discovered that in his autoethnography today; commented on the google doc to tell him so, and realized that those comments I am making on the doc are de-linearizing the text, de-autoing the ethnographies and… Messing it all up really nicely, thank you rhizo14)

ANYWAY: the ideas of today were inspired by Kris Shaffer, who posted a Stanford study (which I came across via Sean Michael Morris’ google plus) and when I tweeted it, Kris, who teaches music, pointed me to another post of his on his approach to pedagogical re-flipping in which he cites a guy called Ramzey Musallam who teaches chemistry and writes about the same topic.

In a matter of 5 or so minutes, I had accumulated a wealth of information on

1. A Stanford study that showed that it is better to start with inquiry-based learning, not lecture/video of theory/concepts – this is the chronological opposite of flipping. It is also very Deweyan, isn’t it? Discovery-based learning, problem-based learning, inquiry-based learning, and all that; as Musallam states, it is the way of scientific discovery

2. I had learned how a music teacher tries this in his (university level) class

3. I had learned how a chemistry teacher does it in his (high school level) class

(And those three articles can make up a module in a class about re-flipping the flip, or inquiry-based learning, giving the study that supports the theory, and the experience of two teachers from different disciplines and contexts; showing the value of educational case studies told by teachers. I could go on but I think you get the idea).

I skimmed the articles and will come back to them, but also interesting was the discussion I had with Kris about why I never flip coz I never lecture, and he said he often gives his students text not video. Which made me realize how I was already doing that. I was basically pointing my students to blog posts or articles I had written in lieu of a lecture video. It made me realize two things. Well three:
1. Much of my writing is pedagogical, not always consciously in that way, but I guess it is just who I am, somehow?

2. It is more sustainable and useful to the world that I write it publicly, rather than in a closed LMS/VLE or email – it benefits more people for a longer time

3. I only ever recognized the pedagogical value of some of my blog posts because Bonnie Stewart kept tweeting some of it to her students and I thought, hmm, maybe I can tweet those to her students as well..

And another thing I learned from Bonnie, though I “flipped” it, is about connecting our network of online friends to our students – and the beautiful people of rhizo14 have been interacting with my students’ blogs (well one lucky student in particular because she said something relevant to a discussion, but now I will try to find ways to engage all the others as well) – but what a way to show people the power of social media! Full list of my students’ blogs here

(orphan side note: I was telling my student-teacher the other day, who teaches kindergarten that it was ridiculous to even think about it with reference to KG. Who the heck lectures to 4-year-olds anyway? (But apparently there is stuff online about flipping KG classrooms, too!)

I will stop here before I give someone a headache!

Oops, back about an hour later to add this great post critiquing the generic flip much better than I ever could!

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