As students and members of the Millennial generation, a profound amount of our time is spent viewing screens. Whether this time is spent searching for cat videos on Youtube or just getting help with polynomials on Khan Academy, the simple fact is that we spend a lot of time online.
Part one of a two-part series.
Teachers at Albany High are taking advantage of student online habits and using technology as a tool to enhance teaching and learning.
Probably the most dramatic instance of this technologically-based shift can be seen in Suzanne Young’s adoption of the “flipped classroom” model. Young, a calculus and geometry teacher, posts her lessons on Edmodo via Youtube. Students learn the material at home and practice in class, hence the name flipped classroom.
For more information on the flipped learning model, stay tuned for the companion piece, Flip this Class, Part 2.
This model calls upon students to be proactive in their learning and make an effort to understand the material. “Students can’t be passive. They have to sit down and watch the video and take notes and they need to ask questions,” said Young.
Young got the idea to switch to the flipped classroom after spending some time in the summer participating in a MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) about e-Learning Ecologies. Young’s classmates introduced her to several different websites about the flipped classroom. Websites led to books which led to blogs, ultimately resulting in Young’s conviction to flip her class.
A common concern that arises out of virtual lessons is the place of the teacher in the classroom. According to Young, the teacher will always play a fundamental role in the education of students. “Content videos are not meant to provide the process and reinforcement and scaffolding that a teacher can do,” she said.
As expected, there have been mixed reactions from students participating in the flipped classroom model. Martin Genova, a 12th grade calculus student, finds that working on problems in class with Young helps him understand the material better than if he were to do all the work at home.
“If you can make mistakes in class where there is immediate help and understanding of what you did wrong, I think that’s a great way for you to get the material that she’s trying to teach in to your memory. I like it. I think the videos at home help me understand an idea that she’s trying to teach, but I don’t learn it until we actually do problems in class,” said Genova.
A calculus student who wishes to remain anonymous does not entirely share Genova’s view of the flipped classroom. “I feel like technology will never be able to teach me as well as a teacher can. There’s nothing like being able to ask a question during a lesson and getting a simple explanation, rather than having to skim through results on a Google page taking guesses at which one might be the right answer.”
Sophomore geometry student Rebecca Brown finds the flipped classroom “confusing” because of the detailed videos but still thinks that the year is “going ok”.
Although Young is probably the most prominent example of flipped learning, Albany High teachers have done similar things. Darren McNally, an AP Environmental Science teacher, posts articles on Google Classroom which students read, respond to, and turn in online.
Jessica Park, an English teacher, holds online discussions on Google Classroom. These lively discussions encourage students to take in their fellow classmates’ and craft thoughtful responses.
Ms. Young “absolutely” believes that flipped learning is the future of education. In an increasingly connected world, it is inevitable that education will be available to all who seek it.