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GUEST BLOG: Flipping Education!

Today, we’re pleased to feature a guest post from Mick Flaherty, ICT Coordinator at Stockport Grammar School, Cheshire.

Just the very use of ‘buzz’ words in education is enough to make me want to cover my ears.  There are many bandwagons to jump on but what it seems to come down to is simply trying to get the best out of every pupil, regardless of their unique qualities.  Making sure that every opportunity is given to the individuals in your classroom is something the majority of teachers work hard at on a daily basis.

So I am not going to lead the crusade to change your teaching with the new revolutionary method called ‘flipping the classroom’.  However, I will try to explain some of the ways a VLE can be used to facilitate such diversions from the norm, should you feel the urge to try something different.

Allowing pupils to get familiar with a topic prior to the lesson is not a new concept.  But the ways in which a VLE can make the experience engaging for pupils and manageable for teachers is something to be explored.

Sources

Providing a research question as a homework task can result in almost hysterical use of the copy and paste function.  Large amounts of Internet-based text is forced into a word processed document, or worse still, the dreaded PowerPoint presentation.  A better way of asking the question is to restrict the pupils to a set of resources that you have provided.  This way you will know what information is available to pupils and therefore what conclusions they may draw from it.  Ensure your pupils are instructed to only use the resources given.

  1. Hyperlinks – Giving a simple set of hyperlinks to relevant web pages is an easy way to start.  This will reduce the amount of time wasted on pointless web searches.
  2. Podcasts – This is your chance to allow pupils to hear sound bites of interviews, performances and newsreel, giving them a chance to access information first-hand or from an expert in the field.
  3. Video – Embed a YouTube video into your VLE for pupils to watch.
  4. Documents – The easy option is to upload a PDF full of the texts you want the pupils to use. A better option is to create a page and paste your text into it.  This makes the source information accessible on multiple devices without the need to download a PDF document and open it in a different application.

Submission

Once the pupils have had a chance to digest the sources of information on offer, the VLE can be used to gather and share their thoughts, conclusions, opinions and understanding.

  1. Q&A Forum – This will allow pupils to post their views and responses to the set task but will not let them see what others have said until their own response has been posted.
  2. Discussion Forum – Although this has more freedom than the Q&A Forum, it will need careful moderation if you are to get something useful back from the activity.  Once pupils are aware of the expected outcome of the forum, they are more likely to post wisely.  Try allowing them 1 original post and a maximum of 3 replies.  This will help to generate discussions rather than a myriad of new threads.
  3. Quizzes – Your pupils will probably be used to the multiple choice tests that Moodle offers.  These are a quick way to gather statistical information that could be used in the following lesson.  Used in this way the quiz will give you an idea of which topics, concepts or keywords need clarification in the lesson with a comprehension task being the obvious follow on.
  4. Wiki – Allowing the pupils to submit their findings in an individual Wiki allows you to either mark the work of the pupils by looking at their Wiki pages, or, allow pupils to review and comment on each others’ Wiki pages.  If the buzz words are what you are after, this is a great way to incorporate peer assessment and collaborative learning into your teaching.

The Aftermath

Providing pupils with a variety of ways to consume information about your subject and using the VLE to gather their thought and assess their understanding are just a couple of the many tools that a teacher has to hand.  It won’t work for every subject or every topic, but as part of the mix of teaching and learning styles that can be employed in the classroom, it will add a little variety.  So whether you are striving to use the latest technique or working to provide a balanced educational experience that caters for a variety of individual learners, ‘Flipping Education’ with Moodle has its benefits.  Be brave, give it a go.

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