October 8, 2014

Flipping - thinking about students creating content

A view from the Instructional Technologist point of view

The spark for this blog post:
Tan, Ashley, 2014. Three dimensions of flipping
Working in the Learning Management System (LMS) or Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) I see that the un-flipped course is typically....lecture-lecture-lecture+assessment submission, read-read-read-listen+assessment or just for variation read-watch-listen+assessment. The interesting part of flipping the classroom in the above video is the aspect of  allowing the student to create content. In the online course, all the content is available and in most cases students are encouraged to work through it in a pre-determined fashion. The students may be locked out from the assessment submission points until a certain level of 'knowledge' has been gained or discussion has occurred. 

In the flipping scenario the students would create content outside of 'class-time'. In the online context I'm taking this class-time as any synchronous time with the lecturer and/or other class members.  For example a synchronous virtual online classroom or synchronous group work time.  It could also be face-time in a residential or simulated environment.To allow the dimension of student creation flipping in the online course I'm suggesting that we move away from this once-off submission but instead use the process of assessing during and integral to, the create-review-improve iteration by the student.

Here is a quick summary of a few online tools that I could see useful to do this in the LMS environment. The aim being to allow the students to create, get feedback and improve which would then lead to grading. It could also be used as a way for the lecturer to gain a better insight into the competency of the student, particularly in practical based applications.

1. Group work - enabling tools like discussion board and file sharing in groups to allow for group work to be productive towards a final piece. Having a synchronous online tool (like a virtual classroom space) available so that groups could get together and practise their presentations or expressing their ideas in a non-formal setting with peers would be very valuable.
2. Using Wiki's - a collaborative tool to work together on a particular subject. While the tool is very easy to use, in reality it takes quite a bit of work to get a polished final result that everybody has contributed to. This tool may also need facilitation (or moderation) along the way to keep the students pointing in the same direction.
3. Self review - using this tool early in a course to get students reflecting on their own work. This might be in a form of a simple quiz. However the answers to that quiz need to lead somewhere and be used for improved learning.
4. Peer review is a more complex model of review and needs good planning. In the flipped scenario the students would submit and review before having a synchronous session where the reviews were discussed and ideas moved forward.
5. Rubrics - get the students to create one. They would then appreciate the feedback they received in relation to that same marking guide. Using this tool in conjunction with the peer review would be a good idea and take out some of the subjectivity of untrained reviewers. However the LMS I'm familiar with is not setup to allow students to create or apply rubrics. The students could submit a rubric form (Word or excel) and then this could be added to the LMS environment by the Lecturer.

The suggestion from the 'three dimensions of flipping' goes one step further to suggest that students should create to teach the content. Some tools to facilitate this in the LMS would be as follows:

1. Open Journals - Allow students to create journals of content that students could read and comment on. The Lecturer would add their comments last (or on an agreed date).
2. Blogs - Short blog posts could be used to expand the teaching material. This also suits the 'chunking' method to allow for short bursts of material. The blog tool could also allow for comments which would allow the students to practise reviewing techniques. Blogs could also include links to open source videos, animations, comic strips, drawings, diagrams etc.

One tool I've considered but not put in the above list is ePortfolios. This tool is great for creating artefacts of work already completed and putting it in some logical order. It could be used for assessment purposes to show progress in the development of the students work.

In summary, there are some great tools that are available in LMS/VLE for allowing the students to not only create but to share their work. Being able to learn from peers as well as learning from the 'experts' will enrich the student experience. Encouraging more connectivity and interaction in the online learning space would reduce that feeling of isolation that can be experienced when studying in that mode. The aim is to make the most of face-time or synchronous study time by actively participating in the learning.