I did a presentation titled "Flipping the Learning Model" for the annual conference of the Connecticut Education Network in May 2015. The flipped classroom has been a hot topic in education for a number of years, but more recently, the idea of flipping professional development has been experimented at schools and in corporate training. That is a topic I did a presentation on last fall at NJEDge.Net Annual Conference. Taking the flipped classroom into the world of professional development is a relatively new step in the flipped learning model.
What I was more interested in in the CEN presentation was rethinking how learners work before and after a face-to-face training session to make it more self-directed.
That leads us into discussions of technology integration and andragogical concepts that maximize the time online and during the live group sessions.In both cases, the idea is to rethink what we want to spend our time with in face-to-face (F2F) sessions and how can we move training before and after those sessions to be self-directed.
The flipped learning model using technology, even in our personal learning, maximizes the F2F time for interaction.
I paired my session with another one on makerspaces and I asked attendees to try this flipped learning activity before coming to the conference and the plan was that we would complete it in the face-to-face session.
As I anticipated, only a few people took up the challenge to do something prior to the session. They were asked to to experiment with one or more ways to increase the volume and sound quality of a smartphone using simple materials and no electronics or additional power. The sample provided online were simple - from just using a cup or bowl to a built object. A few people brought a result of their DIY experimentation to the live session. I would expect a bigger response from students in a course or a group involved in a class, project or makerspace. But, as my slides indicated, as with assigning students "homework" any flipped model must anticipate that some attendeees will not have done the preparation for the session.
In our face-to-face session, I tested a few samples with a decibel meter, but the presentation and my intent was to discuss how this simple exercise can be applied to classroom learning.
I asked some questions of those who did try experimenting, as I would with students.
What did you learn from your experiments? What materials made the greatest improvement in sound? What is more important: volume or sound quality? How would you define "sound quality?" What additional equipment or learning would be necessary for you to go further with this experiment? How might you use this exercise (or a similar one) in your classroom?
I recall reading EDUCAUSE's "7 Things You Should Know About Makerspaces" in 2013. They ask and answer, "What are the implications for teaching and learning?"
"The makerspace gives room and materials for physical learning. Because these spaces can easily be cross-disciplinary, students in many fields can use them, often finding technical help for work they are undertaking in their areas. At the same time, those in engineering and technology will find their work enriched by contributions from those in other fields. Makerspaces allow students to take control of their own learning as they take ownership of projects they have not just designed but defined. At the same time, students often appreciate the
hands-on use of emerging technologies and a comfortable acquaintance with the kind of experimentation that leads to a completed project. Where makerspaces exist on campus, they provide a physical laboratory for inquiry-based learning."
Whether you call your space for creative work and play a classroom or a makerspace or an innovation lab, hackerspace, tech shop or fabrication lab, what we need to focus on as educators is what goes on inside that space. More important than the name of the space is the pedagogy for its use and how it reaches out to a larger community - whether that be a school, campus or city.
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