November 19, 2012 00:00 By PRIYAKORN PUSAWIRO
Several hybrid teaching and learning techniques have been emerging in recent days. Resources are also aplenty when it comes to what the Internet can offer.
So, why don’t lecturers fill their courses with more than just the lectures they do now?
‘Just-in-time Learning’ and the ‘Flipped Classrooms’ are among the interesting and novel approaches.
Because each class session has limited time, lecturers have often found they cannot give their students all the useful content they wish.
Just-in-time Learning is a perfect solution here because it delivers the content when it is actually needed. Students who come across a question can find an answer, whenever they want, via online resources and free world-class education lectures. Lecturers only need to guide their students marginally about where to look.
Khan Academy, iTunes U and MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) are among the most effective and free resources.
Lecturers indeed should encourage their students to learn ubiquitous technologies like the Internet and mobile communications, which are tools to dynamically engage students in the educational network worldwide.
Learning, after all, is not just about face-to-face contact between teachers and students. Students in fact can gain knowledge via network technologies anytime, anywhere.
To make learning more powerful and meaningful for students, lecturers should also try flipping the classroom. According to EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI), this approach refers to a pedagogical model in which the typical lecture and homework elements of a course are reversed.
In ‘flipping the classroom’, all lecture slides and videos can be saved and shared on the repository of the learning platform or elsewhere online.
ELI explained “the value of a flipped class is in the re-purposing of class time into a workshop where students can inquire about lecture content, test their skills in applying knowledge, and interact with one another in hands-on activities”.
Thus teachers alter their roles from instructor to facilitator and act as a coach or adviser during class sessions. Students are empowered by self-directed learning when they drill down the content in advance.
Moreover, students read, discuss material, conduct a hands-on project, share understanding and construct their knowledge cumulatively week by week.
The class is organised in the form of discussions and hands-on lab, not lectures.
To sum up, students view short video lectures at home before the class session, while in-class time is devoted to exercises, projects, or discussions.
After the lecture, however, the students can carry out their projects, share their knowledge and continue to discuss with each other.
At the end of the semester, the students present their final projects and discuss lessons they have learned from a rapid feedback occurring in class.
I have combined both the pedagogical concept of just-in-time learning and the flipped classroom approach in my “Computer Engineering Exploration” course. Together with my students, I have adjusted the course contents based on learning on-demand principles. During our class, we have exchanged and discussed information related to our course.
Due to time constraints, the students learn the right content for the right goal with the right knowledge. Significantly, they learn to get the correct information and acquire material upon request and upon priority.
That is just-in-time learning.
Teachers and teaching-assistants circulate and are ready to answer the questions and clear up points instantly inside the classroom, primarily to help students in solving problems in a hands-on assignment or lab sheet.
Furthermore, we asked students to read the course materials and see online video posting in advance. In the classroom, we wrapped up the content shortly, discussed any unclear points, and then let the students work on the assignment.
Indeed, we flipped the classroom.
Remarkably, during the semester students experience a variety of situations such as learning from a friend, teaching a friend, and learning on their own within time constraints.
Students reported they gained benefit from class brainstorming, free discussion, rapid feedback, shared projects, and informal learning.
My observations found that students engaged more deeply with the content of the course and they could get the right information at the right time. Moreover, they spent out-of-classroom time reading lecture notes and watching video posts.
The hybrid pedagogy, in sum, works well. But as each course requires different settings and resources, it is up to lecturers to design what is best for their students. They must also understand the resources involved as well as their students.
For the Just-In-Time and Flipped Classroom to work, co-operation by students is very important. Engage them well!