Computers can add distance to flipped classrooms
- Michael Ralph, a former high school teacher who now works with pre-service teachers as part of the UKanTeach program at the University of Kansas, found that enrollment in his flipped biology class dropped, even as scores rose. He realized that classrooms need to be more social than “sterile," he wrote in a recent Edutopia piece.
- To add a more social feel to an online class, Ralph recommends tools that let students see each other’s faces as they can with Ed.VoiceThread. Ralph also suggests requiring students to not only comment on each other’s posts — but to add notes that “move the conversation forward,” he wrote.
- Teachers should also hold discussions in class, and use the flipped time at home for video-watching and chapter reading.
As teachers adopt flipped classrooms, it’s important to make students still feel a human connection even as online tools and computers intervene in the learning process. For example, students need to collaborate — which can feel more difficult to do when separated by digital bits and bytes. The best flipped experiences are when time spent apart still feels like hanging out together in a classroom.
Curriculum designers and educators need to adopt online learning tools that lend a more human touch to flipped classrooms. Whether that’s adding more face time through Google Hangouts — so students and teachers can see each other as they ask questions — or using shared documents, administrators need to support social interaction when using a flipped model, even if students are across town, in their own homes, while learning together.