Another dot in the blogosphere?

Second dimension of flipped learning

Posted on: February 13, 2014

Earlier this week I tried responding to some questions in Google+ from an educator in Finland about Minecraft. Click on the screencapture below to see a larger version.


I realized I did not have all the information and a search provided too much or conflicting information. So I answered what I could and said I would consult an expert (my son).

When I got home from work, my son and I decided how best to answer the last question. My son thought about the question, relayed information to me (which I typed as a reply), and checked his reply before we hit send. In some other context, he could have replied on his own.

Video source

This was similar to what I call the second dimension of flipped learning in action: The learner as teacher. (The third dimension is the learner as content creator.)

In most classrooms the students are passive most of the time. Even in group work, where there are emergent opportunities for one student to teach another, the student is not viewed as the teacher.

In my example, the teacher (my son) was sharing his wisdom and experience with a learner (a teacher I have not met before but joined the same Google+ community). While this exchange took place in an informal setting, there is no reason to stop this from happening in formal settings.

There are several reasons why learners as teachers is important.

Off the top of my head I can think of the fact that you do not really understand something until you have to convince someone else of it. This is due to the fact that you have to not just process information but also reprocess it. This is active sense-making.

Teachers become content experts not because they read about it but because they teach it over and over again. When the content or standards change, teachers must adjust, and the cycle begins again.

Kids do not necessarily see this process as teaching. It is simply talking or sharing. It is a natural process if it does not get highlighted as “you are the teacher now”. Handled well, using the learner-as-teacher strategy builds confidence in learners of all abilities.

In a flipped classroom, learners as teachers takes some pressure off the teacher who has to manage a wide range of activities and strategies online and face-to-face. The teacher stops being the only source of information and can focus on providing feedback or just-in-time instruction.

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