Friday, July 26, 2013

Don't Just Flip with Videos. Flip the Learning


One of the hottest trends in education these days is the flipped classroom model. Teachers would assign instructional videos for students to watch for homework, which allows the teacher more time to work on other learning activities in the classroom the next day.  Some teachers also assign questions for students to answer to prove that the student has indeed watched the video.

Is this enough?  Is this innovation?

This is still a teacher-centered classroom, where the questions are driven by the teacher.  This is not new pedagogy.  It's simply moving the geographical location of the lesson from the classroom to the home with the help of technology.

Even Jon Bergmann, one of the first pioneers of the flipped classroom model, will argue in "The Flipped Class: Myths vs. Reality" that this method isn't just about watching the video.  He explained that it's "an environment where students take responsibility for their own learning" and that it's a "blending of direct instruction with constructivist learning."

So how can you flip the learning to the student?

Instead of the teacher providing the questions as accompaniment to the video, teach your students how to ask critical thinking questions that will drive the learning into their own hands.  Assign the video, but also embed it on a platform that will allow students to actively discuss the material they watched with each other.

If students are passively watching the video and simply answering questions that only the teacher will read, they are missing out on an opportunity to explore, question, and challenge their knowledge.  They are missing out on an opportunity to learn from each other.

There are many web tools and learning management systems that do a great job of hosting your flipped learning materials.  My platform of choice is Schoology.  To read more about why, view my post "Why I Chose Schoology Over All the Rest."

So the next time you assign a video for homework, consider creating an environment where all students can actively engage in the learning.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Little Known Script Called formMule

If you're a Google Forms ninja, then you've probably experimented with scripts.  If you haven't, then you should definitely give them a try.

In July of 2013, I presented a session called "Let Google Sites Be Your Digital Assistant" at the Google Apps for Education Summit in Redwood City.  Here's the description of my workshop:

School websites are typically created to share information with parents and students.  But what about the teachers?  Learn how to use Google Sites to let teachers schedule their own computer lab hours or to check out mobile carts.  Sites could also be used to share professional development resources or to disseminate information to your school staff.  In this hands-on session, you’ll learn how Google Sites can be an efficient digital assistant when powered by Calendars, Forms, and the script FormMule to automate many administrative tasks.

I love FormMule (a script written by the legendary Andrew Stillman), and I use it to schedule appointment slots in Google Calendar (handy if you don't have a GAFE account) or if you want to trigger email notifications from a Google Form.  This is a great script to try in you want to venture into the world of scripts.