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Posts Tagged ‘takeaways

Yesterday I responded to a query about how flipping drives discovery and student-directed learning.

Today I answer a question about how students might not discover the “right” content by discovering or Googling. I have a few responses.

The first is doing away with the notion that students “get it” only when a teacher delivers content. This is merely an illusion because there is no indication or confirmation that learning has happened.

My second response is that one way to be more certain about student learning is to get students to create content and to teach it. These processes help both students and teachers to see evidence of learning.

My third reply is that teaching wrong content happens anyway, not just in the flipped classroom or when you facilitate flipped learning. Both the student and teacher can be guilty of this. However, when the learning is visible the teacher can jump in and intervene.

Three dimensions of flipped learning.

This is why I include content creation and peer teaching in my model of flipped learning.

Peer teaching is something that instructors can do with strategies like think-pair-share, any variant of the jigsaw method, and class presentations. Content creation might be viewed as a prerequisite for this form of teaching. Without artefacts students have nothing to show during the tell.

However, content creation does not always have to be on the teacher scale or standard. The content that students create can also be externalisations or manifestations of what is in their minds. These can take the form of short reflections, practiced problems, recorded conversations, summary documents, etc.

My fourth response is to agree that simply copying and pasting Google search results may not be valuable learning. Most teachers tend to focus on content from an expert’s point of view. This is how they judge if content is good or not, and right or wrong. However, this is not how a learner processes information because s/he does not have structure.

The structure is put in place by thinking processes. So instead of just focusing on content (what artefacts students find and use), the teacher should also model processes of learning. For example:

  • How do I look for information?
  • How do I verify information or evaluate it?
  • How do I incorporate it into my own work?

This response is not unique to flipping. But a focus on process over product is particularly important in flipped learning because one desired outcome is students who are more independent learners.

Yesterday I reflected on my long-running integration of Padlet in my courses and workshops. I intend to share screenshots of two sets of takeaways and questions from participants at the end of a workshop on flipped learning. I address one concern today and another tomorrow.

Flipped learning takeaway and question.

One concern was whether students uncover content in the way the teacher intended.

I am glad that the participant used the word “uncover” because that was something we practised during the workshop. Uncovering is based on discovery and not on the traditional notions of a fixed curriculum, recipe-like strategies, and narrow outcomes.

This does not mean that the process is haphazard. In the past, I have described the implementation as creating serendipity.

One way to design the learning experience is to envision a large plot of land in which you have buried opportunities for learners to unearth. They not only dig up treasures (content-based learning about), they also figure out how to problem seek and problem solve (skills-based learning to be).

My reply to the query is that a strategy like flipping is a means of transferring the ownership of learning to the students. While the teacher is concerned with curriculum, schemes of work, worksheets, and other standard practices, these are not always congruent with the overall design and ultimate goal of flipping.

To put it simply, the standard terms, practices, and tools that a teacher is comfortable with are not necessarily what learners understand and need. The teacher may be armed with a spoon to feed; the students need shovels and other more varied and complex tools.

The teacher may be prepared to deliver; the students need to discover. It is inevitable that the scope of what the teacher expects will be much narrower than what the students discover.

Returning to my analogy of the plot of land with buried treasure, what if students discover relevant and useful nuggets elsewhere? What if they go beyond just digging (e.g., clicking on links in web quests) to surveying with drones and satellites (e.g., Googling, YouTubing) or communicating with previous treasure hunters (e.g., tweeting content experts, consulting Facebook contacts)?

One concern that teachers might have is what if students unearth the “wrong” things? I address that concern tomorrow.

Yesterday I described one way of designing exit tickets for reflection and feedback in the context of my flipped learning seminar.

One result of a simple and open design of my exit ticket is a funnelling effect, i.e., the majority indicate common takeaways. If these are aligned to objectives, then you know you have done something right as a speaker, instructor, or facilitator.

There will be exceptions. One involves outlier comments, and the other, negative comments.

The outliers are questions or comments that fall outside the norm. But they can be no less valuable because, while not intended, they were serendipitous and important to the learner. For example, one participant wanted to leverage on social media to flip learning.

Another outlier comment about flipped learning was: “It is more suited for tertiary level as they are deemed to be more independent learners with greater ownership of their learning.”

The participants of the seminar were mainstream school teachers. If I did the same session with lecturers and professors from higher education institutes, one or two might say flipped learning is better for younger kids.

This particular outlier comment is harmful to the participant because it indicates a negative, it-cannot-be-done mindset. The commenter needs to think about how kids are natural learners, how schooling tends to create a dependence on teaching, and how flipping (kids creating content and kids teaching) can counter the effect of bad schooling.

negativity by laurabl, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License   by  laurabl 

Then there are negative comments.

Instructors who care have the tendency to focus on the single negative in the face of 99 positive comments. The negativity stands out.

I do not get these often, but I had one this time round. It troubled me. I even chose to ignore the positivity of the person who took the trouble to come out of the venue after me to commend me for an excellent talk.

So how does one deal with this?

I had an honest look at myself and what I did. Perhaps this person had a point. Or perhaps s/he had an agenda. Or the person was, pardon my French, an asshole (they exist and they stink up the place for everyone).

Fortunately, I use more than one feedback platform. I had the Padlet stickies and the TodaysMeet backchannel. The person was negative on both and commented on relatively superficial things. The person also chose not to share his/her name.

A person who wants to be negative but honest and constructive will generally be open to conversation. This means not hiding behind anonymity. Such a person will also focus on ideas that matter.

So, as difficult as it is, I am ignoring the negative and non-constructive comments in both channels in terms of how they affect my confidence. But I address them by providing a reply in the backchannel and reflecting on my thought process here.

#negativity #dontletin #bepositive #qotd by TITAN9389, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License   by  TITAN9389 

Having outliers by way of takeaways, comments, or feedback is not a bad thing. It might be a sign that your instruction expanded from teaching moments you control to learning moments you cannot.

Negativity, on the other hand, can control you. If you let it. It is best to remain objective, review the data and information you have, and decide if the negativity was warranted. If so, eat humble pie and do something positive. If not, ignore it.

I ask participants of my seminars and workshops to complete quick exit tickets before they leave in order to find out what they are taking away from the sessions.

currywurst by thevince, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License   by  thevince 

If I do not ask participants what they learnt, they might not ask themselves that question and therefore walk away empty from the session.

I like providing open platforms and asking simple open-ended questions instead of using overly protected spaces and rating scales.

The open platforms make learning visible and shared. This allows each person to see what others have learnt and puts some positive pressure on them to illustrate their own takeaways clearly and concisely.

Open-ended questions like “What did you learn?” instead of “What did you learn about A? How about B? Now how about C?” remove constraints from replies. If patterns start to emerge from open responses, I know that I have hit some nails on the head.

For example, here were four representative exit tickets from the seminar I conducted yesterday on flipped learning. (Click on each screencapture in the tweet to see it in entirety.)

I include only four partly because that the maximum number of images I can attach to a tweet and partly because that is all I need.

My main objective was to help teachers realize there was a difference between a flipped classroom and flipped learning. Most of the audience members who completed their exit tickets did. A bonus finding was the openness of a few to want to try something new.

How about outliers or the unexpected? I share some thoughts on those tomorrow.


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