Sunday, March 27, 2011


     In my Twitter stream @erswank (Ryan Swank) suggested that using online discussion outside of class so that we could act out a Shakespeare play in class might be an example of a “flipped” classroom.  I had been thinking of flipped classes as using recorded lectures for homework so students can practice in class;  since I hardly ever lecture, I wasn’t thinking along those lines.  But Ryan is right. 

     Using online resources allows me to move around what we do, so that what is best done F2F happens F2F.  I get my students F2F for only 42 minutes a day, so I need to consider the best use of that time. 

     I don’t just decide to use technology; I decide what I want my students to learn.  Then I look at the best means for them to learn.  I often use technology because students find it engaging, but that’s not the determining factor.  By itself, technology is just a toy.  I want to use it as a tool, a lever, to support and expand learning.

    Here’s an example.  I want my students to write as often as they can, because practice improves their writing, but a steady diet of essays grows stale.  I also want my students thinking about what we’re working on, and want them to converse about it outside of class.  Providing online discussions gives them a way to write, converse, think – and it doesn’t have to occur during class time.  Further, they enjoy the discussions and some students put in extra time there – even though it won’t add to their grade.

     My students are writing at least twice as much as they were before I started using the Moodle, but they don’t complain about this, or even seem to notice that they’re writing.  It’s an extension of their Facebook and texting world.  For those students who aren’t technology-immersed, it provides a way to explore that world safely.  And for the shy and the deliberate thinkers, online discussion provides a way to be equal partners in the conversation. 

     All this leaves me class time so students can explore Shakespeare as audience and actors. How’s that for meeting some learning objectives?

1 comment:

  1. Mary Badenhorst did a great post on the pros and cons of flipped instruction here: