Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Flip Teaching

Developing Students who are Responsible for their Learning

Flip teaching, as defined by Wikipedia, is a “form of blended learning which encompasses any use of Internet technology to leverage the learning in a classroom, so a teacher can spend more time interacting with students instead of lecturing.” Its principles assume that students will be able to gain more form self-moderated course modules because they can watch and re-watch them at their own paces. Flip teaching provides in-person class time that can be used for more engaging activities than traditional lectures. The practice is used in k-12, as well as higher education. Most successful implementations include specific directions for students on how they are to be prepared their in-person class session. For example, students may be required to hand in notes for the lectures they watch, contribute to online discussion boards outside of class, or have questions drafted to ask the instructor or to prompt discussions with fellow classmates. With this course format, instructors can more easily poll students on concepts on which they need additional instruction. Instructors also receive filtered feedback from all students as to have complete samples of both excelling and struggling students.

A recent blogpost by Herman Berliner, on Inside Higher Ed’s “Provost Prose,” delivered great optimism for the use of flip teaching to improve higher education. Berliner suggested that there could be models to alleviate some institutional costs by engaging students with open course learning experiences (like edX) paired with graduate student led face to face sessions for discussion and evaluation. This proposition cuts costs by minimizing the number of lecture class sections led by faculty members. An article in Education Next from earlier this year also references the sharing of recorded course sessions. This opens possibilities for catalogs of course content that could be shared and used to develop uniquely delivered curricula at institutions around the globe.

Skeptics of flipped teaching claw at the pressures that the practice puts on students to dedicate time to teach themselves concepts without instructors present. Supporters of the flipped classroom agree that there is a great level of responsibility provided to students. According to an article in The Daily Riff, “The Flipped Classroom Revealed,” the authors provide a listing of the characteristics of a successful model – many of which depend on student engagement:

Discussions are led by the students where outside content is brought in and expanded.

These discussions typically reach higher orders of critical thinking.

Collaborative work is fluid with students shifting between various simultaneous discussions depending on their needs and interests.

Content is given context as it relates to real-world scenarios.

Students challenge one another during class on content.

 tutoring and collaborative learning forms spontaneously. 

Students take ownership of the material and use their knowledge to lead one another without prompting from the teacher.

Students ask exploratory questions and have the freedom to delve beyond core curriculum.

Students are actively engaged in problem solving and critical thinking that reaches beyond the traditional scope of the course.

Students are transforming from passive listeners to active learners.

One commentator on Berliner’s post explained that the use of such innovative teaching practices can be dangerous to non-tenured faculty whose employment is often based on student success and satisfaction. As referenced in our post “Simplify Your Internal Marketing,” in order to improve higher education and find successful solutions for more personalized learning, the culture needs to embrace some risk and get on board with ready, fire, aim approaches to innovation. Let us know what successes and challenges you have faced with flipped teaching models in your classrooms.

Becky Yannes, AEFIS Team

For more, check out the sources mentioned in this post and let us know what you think by leaving a comment...

Bennett, Brian, Jason Kern, April Gudenrath and Philip McIntosh. “The Flipped Classroom Revealed.” The Daily Riff. 03 May 2012. http://www.thedailyriff.com/articles/the-flipped-class-what-does-a-good-one-look-like-692.php

Berliner, Herman. “Flipped Classroom.” Provost Prose. 22 Jul 2012. http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/provost-prose/%E2%80%9Cflipped-classroom%E2%80%9D

Tucker, Bill. "The flipped classroom: online instruction at home frees class time for learning." Education Next 12.1 (2012): 82+. Academic OneFile. Web. 17 Sep. 2012

Photo from Knewton

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Right Here, Right Now

There are more students attending college than ever before. To ensure that all of these students are following through on their education, parents are finding innovative ways to stay involved.
csMentor was recently highlighted on Inside Higher Ed, a Washington DC born, web-based program that brings together video mentoring and connections between students and their parents to promote quality communication.

After dropping traditional students off at college for their freshman year, parents will not receive the
high school feedback they are used to from their students’ universities. Although many schools ask students to sign waivers to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) so that they may share grade and advising information, there are limitations for parents to be involved in their students’ academic careers. csMentor takes the approach of engaging students and parents before the big first day and continuing conversations as students make their way through the semester. The program invites users to watch brief videos and respond to multiple choice questionnaires that help to identify how things are going academically and socially. This information allows students and parents to have meaningful conversations about adjusting to college life. Work with the College Success Foundation has expanded the use of the paid services to a group of low income students at no cost to learn more about its capabilities to support student retention.

So this addresses parent and student conversations, but are there similar opportunities to share information between students and instructors or advisors? The interest our team has grossed in collaboration with academic partners for the Instructional Decision Support System (IDSS) includes individuals and institutions who believe that there are ways to use student personality information to improve classroom experiences.

Other than dash-boarding student personality information and personal responses to questionnaires, how can we use assessment data, right here, right now to support personalized learning and student retention in higher education?

Becky Yannes, AEFIS Team

For more, check out the following recommended reading and let us know what you think by leaving a comment...

Helicopter App http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/08/29/new-app-updates-parents-their-students-progress

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Simplify Your Internal Marketing - Experiment and Evaluate Strategies to Promote Engagement in Academic Assessment

Working with new partners allows our team to continuously examine institutional assessment cultures. Early meetings with partners are inspiring brainstorming sessions that expose great ideas for improved practices. As schedules fill up and various individuals or units on campus begin to push against our assessment efforts, it is easy for attitudes to shift and for these meetings to become less productive venting sessions. Administrators find themselves unable to foster true cultures of assessment with no means to incentivize participation. The missing element between the mountaintop excitement of those initial meetings and earnest disappointment in the academic environment is the internal marketing plan that engages everyone in assessment processes. Without such a plan, developing a culture of assessment in academia is like working on a puzzle without the box to know what the big picture is.

Internal marketing strategies can be adopted from business and communication models. Strategies should be simple; there is no need to over think how you will reach out to other administrators, instructors, students and alumni. Remember, these people are your colleagues and consumers; growth is the target and you are all on the same team!

Set reasonable goals
. Plan to tackle bite size chunks while maintaining your vision. If you would like for all units to adopt a certain practice in the next academic year, let all parties involved know at the onset of the implementation. Then, provide updates on progress as individual units engage and adopt. 

Build a strong network
. Academic units are siloed and can be difficult to reign in. Ensure that you have each unit’s attention by creating a specific connection in each unit who can help you to get to know its culture of teaching and learning.

Know your audience
. Consider all of the stakeholders you are seeking to engage.  Ask them how they would like to learn about policy changes and practice recommendations. Demonstrate that you value their opinions.

Document problems, solutions, and ideas
. As you work toward your goals, keep public and private notes about the problems that have arisen. Document how those challenges were overcome and record ideas for improvement in the future. Key in on those providing negative feedback – share all sides of the arguments to demonstrate genuine transparency. All stakeholders should know how to access this information, but it should be delivered directly as well.

Experiment and evaluate
. The scientific method can be extended to any method of trying new assessment practices on campus. Consider five bullet points to summarize (1) what new practice was attempted, (2) who participated, (3) what goals were met or not met, (4) how this practice can be extended, – or – what information are you seeking to improve the practice, and (5) what the next steps are. Share this summary widely in the form of website posts, emails, social media, or digital displays on campus.

Recognize and celebrate success
. Participants respond to recognition and will maintain motivation if there are tangible incentives. Ask instructors to speak at events about their practices to provide experience that they can add to their CVs. Invite students to propose ideas to faculty and administrators. Publicize work that is being done in the name of assessment on your website. Highlight opportunities for stakeholders to present at conferences off campus to expand their networks.

Not every attempt will be a great success, but if your institution values assessment, it will invest in continued attempts. Before I started working in academia, I was hesitant to try new practices on wide scales for fear of failure or loss of respect from stakeholders. Academia is one of the few spaces in the consumer market that can embrace change without losing its consumers. The ideals of ready, fire, aim have grown on me because there is so much room for growth, faith in experimentation, and opportunity for safe risk.

Becky Yannes, AEFIS Team

For more, check out the following recommended reading

Market Tools Blog http://www.markettools.com/blog/closing-loop

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Be In Charge of your Learning!

As a college student, it never really occurred to me just how vital it is for each and every higher education institution to uphold specific academic standards which ensure quality and relevance of their techniques. Academic assessment is a central element in the overall quality of teaching and learning in higher education. Working at AEFIS has given me more insight as to exactly how this procedure ensures that students are in fact the central gear in their learning experience. Assessment is the student’s ability to evaluate and reflect on their own learning, making a judgment as to their progress and how they could improve.

One of the most significant services the AEFIS platform offers students is access to course details and evaluation results for previous terms. With course details pre-listed, AEFIS gives students the chance to critic a class prior to registration from a professional environment as opposed to the numerous ‘Rate a Professor’ websites which may falsely bias their judgment. With access to the pre-listed course objectives, students can identify from the get-go which instructors are project-oriented, test-oriented or intensive-writing oriented and thus enroll into apposite classes. This in turn facilitates students to gain necessary skills based on their individual strengths and weaknesses.

AEFIS provides students with a thorough, reliable and steadfast course catalog which contains all the details of a course. (All the data is imported directly from institutional data feeds adjusted by administrators). The syllabi details are clearly specified therefore students know exactly what is expected of them prior to enrolling for a course. Personally, I can attest to studying more effectively and in turn getting better grades when I know exactly what it is I’m working towards. The best part is just how easy it is to access all this information. All you need is a basic mobile device with internet capability. AEFIS realized that college students are always on the go and in turn found a way to accommodate this. This shows just how much AEFIS strives to improve student performance.

Throughout our college experience, I feel as though it’s safe to say that there’s always at least one professor whose teaching we absolutely delight in. In most cases, students tend to have professors for only one semester/quarter. AEFIS gives us the chance to commend extraordinary skills where deserved. There’s only so much we can do, so why not express gratitude by taking a few minutes to fill out a survey at the end of a course with warranted positive feedback. It’s always a good feeling to give credit where it’s due. However, it goes both ways given that students also have the right to state whether a course met their expectations or otherwise.

Not only does AEFIS improve student performance but also faculty productivity and administrative efficiency. It keeps syllabi centralized, making assessment and accreditation more efficient. Academic assessment is by no means a piece of cake. It is quite a challenging process because, to some extent, it should be consistent across all departments in a college but yet again allow flexibility, considering each department has its own distinctive goals and expectations. Being at AEFIS has given me the chance to be right in the loop of the academic assessment development. I now know just how fundamental it is to fill out those surveys, review courses prior to enrolling for them and have all my syllabi centralized, which is just a sample of what AEFIS offers. All this for my benefit; higher GPA, convenient access to course details, self-assessment at the end of a course, etc.

Get the best out of your college experience by being in charge of your learning!

                                                                                                                                                Raisa Ochola, AEFIS Team

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Syllabus Manifesto

Many instructors struggle with students floating through degree programs without understanding how any assignments or exams fit into their courses or curricula. Further, administrators struggle to account for the time that faculty spend developing syllabi and mapping coursework to specified learning outcomes. Preparing students for their post graduate lives is rooted in sharing an understanding of expectations. These expectations reach back to their elementary questions – why do I need to know this? when am I ever going to use this? Similarly, potential employers want to understand what students are learning and if their skill sets will align with industry needs. Other stakeholders including accrediting bodies and prospective students seek answers to these questions as well. The most appropriate medium to answer these questions, organize instructional tools, and account for course development is the course syllabus. That’s it – the answer is in the syllabus – but that can only be the solution if the syllabus is a living and accessible document.

We have discussed the idea of the syllabus as a contract between students and instructors to describe the expectations of both parties (April, 2011, http://aefis.blogspot.com/2011/04/why-are-we-assessing.html). We were excited to see this perspective articulated by the Syllabus Institute in its tenants of the Modern Syllabus. It summarizes three main roles of the syllabus: contractual, assessment, and marketing. As a contract, the syllabus outlines objectives, assignments, policies and other general expectations. In assessment and accreditation processes, the syllabus supports continuous review of outcomes, consistency in practices across the institution, and ensures curricular excellence. With nearly unlimited options in the higher education spaces, prospective students can base decisions on exciting, changing, and unique course offerings – which can be marketed with the syllabus. Similarly current students can be better prepared for coursework and make more informed class selections if they have access to syllabi.

Syllabi are the vehicle for the content of a course and the dissemination of instructors’ ideas to students, institutions, and potentially the public. Think about ways to use them, share them, and engage audiences to appreciate them through web-based platforms - online availability is the first step in this streamlined dissemination. Let us know what you are doing with your syllabi and ideas for moving them forward…
Becky Yannes, AEFIS Team

Friday, January 27, 2012

"Accountability Yes, Hierarchy No"

By: Joshua Kim

AEFIS Response:

There is a great deal of risk in inviting large populations to provide feedback to make improvements. This is true when asking students to provide feedback about coursework and faculty practices; and it is also true when seeking feedback from software users. Not being able to meet requests or satisfy expectations minimizes clients’ trust and reduces their likelihoods to provide additional feedback. However, such feedback fuels innovation and our development model welcomes it. Balance must be found in engaging leaders, primary decision makers, and the greater populations of users outside of the leadership realm. This idea of hierarchies and accountability is discussed in recent posting on Inside Higher Ed’s “Technology and Learning” blog, “Accountability Yes, Hierarchy No.”

Determining these hierarchies is a struggle that our company tackles regularly. Our client partnership model has allowed us to sit in on and lead great discussions regarding assessment, accreditation, and how institutional stakeholders view opportunities and challenges. Our partnerships have attracted clients who are willing to engage in these conversations and view assessment, accreditation, and student learning as priorities that require consistent enhancement on campus. Joshua Kim, author to the blog mentioned earlier, questions the best approach to minimizing hierarchical boundaries to allow for innovative collaboration and production for educational technologies, while maintaining efficiency. With this point he notes that such an environment will have to accept and even promote risk taking.

Innovation is a celebrated concept. But before innovation usually come: costs, mistakes, failures, and delays. And these are not so celebrated. Ultimately both technology developers and end users have to promote risk taking, and accept the challenges that may be faced before the most successful solution to the problem at hand is realized.

Becky Yannes, AEFIS Team