Tag Archives: instructors

The Flipped Classroom

(Source)

A popular concept in education, which is reviewed on Inside Higher ED’s website, is the idea of a “flipped classroom.” The basic definition of a “flipped classroom,” which varies depending on your source, is that the typical lecture and homework elements of a classroom are reversed. This means students would listen to a pre-recorded lecture at home and do homework in the classroom. Several different business models and organizations already promote this idea, like the well-known Khan Academy non-profit model, but is this model optimal?

Benefits
Don’t get me wrong; the “flipped” model has its benefits. (1) Students can go through the material at their own pace in a comfortable environment. This approach allows students who blaze through the material to be more efficient with their time and less confident students to spend as much time as they need to understand the content. (2) Students who are struggling with a problem or concept in class can ask an instructor for assistance who will guide them to the answer. Speaking from a student perspective, it is much easier (and memorable) to have an instructor work with you to solve a problem than it is consulting a textbook or searching for the answer online. (3) Plenty of opportunity to discuss and compare approaches with other students while in class. Students often solve problems and run into the same issues while working through problems. It can be very helpful and time efficient to collaborate with other students to achieve I higher degree of understanding. These benefits all contributes to a greater understanding of the content and a stronger awareness of troublesome areas that require greater attention.

Weaknesses
So why hasn’t everyone adopted this model? Simply put, it’s in our human nature to resist change. The traditional method of suggesting material to read over before class, lecturing during class, and assigning homework after class has been in place for centuries. This traditional “teacher experience,” arguably, can never be replaced. As a student, one fatal flaw I’ve experienced in the current system occurs at home. I often find it difficult to concentrate and motivate myself to read from a textbook or learn a new topic that doesn’t particularly interest me, especially if the content isn’t specifically brought up in class. I relate this experience to a chore I never liked doing, but is required for a greater cause, like my parent’s satisfaction (or graduation). Of course, it isn’t a perfect system, but we implement support initiatives to redeem its shortcomings. Many of these initiatives mirror the benefits of the “flipped classroom,” for example Academic-Zone’s personalized online approach. Lecturing for more than 50 minutes may not maintain student attention and be effected by diminishing marginal returns. However, the lecture still plays an important role in highlighting the key information in a mountain of text. Instructors also make themselves available after class to clarify information.

Final Thoughts
Similar to the article written by Pamela E. Barnett, a potential solution would be an integration of both systems. Taking the best of both models with the help of modern technology can improve the effectiveness of teaching. For example, having a short lecture, in-class exercises, and relevant online material/assessment could be a possible layout for the lectures of tomorrow. With this model, we have the opportunity to try a new approach and personalize learning for students of the 21st century.

What are you thoughts?
–     Do you think this “flipped classroom” model could work?
–     Would it be easier for students to learn information using this model?
–     How about instructors to teach?

I look forward to your opinion!

Why College Grads Can’t Get a Job

A new study from Bentley University suggests a possible reason recent college grads can’t secure a job after graduation. In their study, hiring managers, business people, corporate recruiters, and other individuals agreed on one thing; college grads are not prepared for their first job. This may result from a lack of communication skills, interpersonal skills, office etiquette, work ethic, or several other potential traits.

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A common defensive argument that is mentioned (and referenced in the comments by “Tonisha Adamson”) is that the problem resides within the educational system, and not the students. Students are expected to immediately becoming professional employees straight out of school, with no previous work experience. To add to the dilemma, some employers also shy away from recruiting first-time employees for entry level positions.

Speaking from experience, I feel attending an institution that has a strong co-op department, whose goal is to get students involved in local businesses and companies, helps student stand out from the crowd. Co-op programs give students the opportunity to learn those skills employers often find graduates lack. Being an exceptional student may not always translate into skills required to be a great employee. Real-world experience is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to apply what you learn in the classroom and get a sense of how to apply it to the business world.

What do you think?

  • Do you think educational systems today do not prepare students for the real world? Or is the purpose of school to simply show prospective employers your initiative and motivating to learn new things?
  • Do you think employers expect too much from college students/grads that do not have any previous work experience?
  • Do you think graduates are just lazy and act too entitled to believe they deserve a job because they earned a degree?

Let me know in the comments below!
More information about this article can be found here

Have a great day!

Video

TED Talk: Salman Khan: Let’s use video to reinvent education

Ah… my first blog post, how exciting! Like most students, when faced with a question, challenge or problem, I turn to the internet! While browsing, I stumbled upon this amazing TED Talk.

What I particularly liked about this video was the use of humour to keep the audience entertained. I laughed when he mentioned: “Here I was, an analyst at a hedge fund. It was very strange for me to do something of social value.”

Being a student, I can relate to Khan’s emphasis on “humanizing the classroom.” Often, I have felt like a zombie, mindlessly recording notes. Khan proposed the idea to allow students to go over the lecture material, via his online videos, as a form of “homework” the night before lecture. This would allow the professor to go over problems during class time to reinforce understanding of the topics discussed in the online videos. This also provides students the opportunity to learn the material in the comfort of their home and at their own pace.

The developers of Academic-Zone have taken a similar approach with their learning modules—offering resources that students can explore 24/7/365, at their own pace and based on their own need. As a student, I believe Academic-Zone is an easily accessible resource for today’s student and addresses many of the issues discussed in this video.

If this topic interests you, read more about it here!: http://blog.ted.com/2014/01/15/salman-khans-ted-talk-ignited-the-conversation-about-online-education-why-hes-doubling-down-on-the-school-of-the-future/

If you enjoyed this post and/or have any comments or thoughts about Khan’s video, please leave me a comment.
Thanks for reading!

What is Good Teaching?

In a post on the Canadian Education Association (CEA) blog, Dr. Bruce Beairsto, a professor at Simon Fraser University, shares his insight on what is effective teaching. He explains that teaching is an art as well as a science—that teaching goes beyond communication and it is the student response that determines the effectiveness of the teacher.

“…teaching is an iterative process of trial and error, guided by careful observation of student response (aka formative assessment).  The teacher adapts instructional technique depending upon student response until the desired responses are achieved.  When that happens, teaching has occurred.”

What are your thoughts? What factors contribute to good teaching?

Read the full post here.

Canadian Education Association website.

New Module Annoucement – Science-Zone: Lab Reports

Lab Reports

The Academic-Zone team is proud to announce the release of Science-Zone: Lab Reports, our first science-focused module! This module is intended to provide an general overview of the key components in a post-secondary level lab report. It covers topics such as introduction, materials and methods, results, discussion, and abstract. This module has a variety of videos and practice exercises to keep students engaged!

As development continues we hope to create more concentrated Lab Report modules for specific disciplines like Chemistry, Biology, or Physics!

Got an idea for product development? We’d love to hear it! Send an email to academic-zone@brocku.ca!