Enabling the Flipped Classroom with Evolving Software Solutions

by Kelly Walsh on March 7, 2012

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Guest Post by Louis Malenica

In a way, we are all experts in education. It is one area in which we may each claim extensive experience. We all spent many years in school, and now we all read, write, calculate and basically get along in the world, regardless of our level of formal attainment. And everyone has an opinion on the subject (have you noticed?)! Education is a success story, it is at once an ancient art that keeps Pythagoras alive and again a vessel with infinite capacity to absorb what is new – and useful of course.

Quote about software and reverse instructionThinking back to the late nineties when I took on the challenge of a computer science degree taken mostly online, it was an inflection point where the old and new modes began to merge. It seemed so natural for the Web to become involved in a formal education. Yet this transition reminds me of the evolution of the Java programming language, if I may draw a parallel. Java generated an incredible amount of buzz when it was introduced, and it wasn’t long until universities began offering courses in it. But Java was more promise than realization – it was touted as a thin client front-end applet solution rather than the server-side and web services platform success it became. There was no way this transformation could be predicted, but it just felt right and there was a sense that this was something special to learn and become involved with.

That is the feeling I have when I think of education technology and e-learning software today. We have no idea what might ultimately come of it.

The subject of education is being re-energized by the promise of technology. Theories are emerging from all corners of the system: models for e-learning and instructional design; blending modes of learning; and thoughts turning to reshaping traditional teaching methods. The Internet is affecting every form of education – from K-12, vocational, higher education, corporate training, and even the self-learner. A “distance” education is now not only on par with on-campus study, but almost an indispensable partner to it. On-line learning has moved beyond respectability, it is past argument that an education taken primarily online can be as effective and rewarding. It is therefore imperative to accustom school age students to independent modes of learning.

Thankfully there are signs of such transformations. A prime example is what has become known as the “flipped classroom”. To oversimplify the premise, it is “class work at home, homework in class”. It is a simple concept but is gaining momentum – evident in this Google search graph, showing a steady climbing trend: the number of search results for “flipped classroom” has increased ten-fold in the last year. Although I’m not enamored by the name (the use of the word classroom seems to me to infer primarily K-12 schooling , contrasted with the more palatable and widely applicable term “reverse instruction”). I can see the flipped model adapting to other educational environments including higher-ed and corporate learning.

How might this model be adapted to apply to colleges? Well, many institutions are already part of the way there. Lecture capture and delivery online has been around for almost ten years (I can attest to that from experience as a software consultant – remember Real Player?) but has largely been a support act to the main event. But why not go all the way and use the online lecture in a flipped way? “Lecture at home, discussion in the lecture?”

What kind of flipping can we think of in the corporate e-learning and training sector? Consider the modern necessity for businesses to be agile – to think and move fast in a competitive and information-rich global environment. Decentralizing information creation has become a mantra for success in an agile business; think wiki, CMS, instant messaging, file sharing, and social apps. People at every level are now being encouraged to generate and share knowledge in a decentralized and immediate way. But where does that leave the more “formal” training models for delivering core knowledge? Well, why not flip this as well, and allow staff to create their own equally powerful multimedia-based learning modules?

This is where new tools are needed to accommodate agility in business knowledge sharing. The point is that whatever comes of the flipped classroom idea, it will likely evolve and adapt and cross-breed, as all powerful ideas do.

Whatever the best tool may be for any particular problem or organization, one prediction I am willing to bet on is that software for e-learning is at a real turning point. Up to now we have tended to fit e-learning around the software available, but I believe the reverse will begin to happen (unsurprisingly, given the flipping theme) and tool creators will stop to look around and see what ideas are generating a buzz in e-learning and start creating software to match.


 
Prezage is positioning itself as a software toolkit for flexible models within higher education and business e-learning environments. The Prezage platform for enterprises is delivered entirely in the cloud, is fully web-based and flexible enough to fit into the preferred practices of any team. Anyone can produce content, and presentations, lectures or talks can be recorded and synced in real time or put together from existing media archives. To round things off, Prezage webinars will add another dimension to the stable of tools – with the promise of massive participation capability for MOOC-style educational webinar events that, again, anyone can produce. Learn about its capabilities in this twelve minute presentation (created using Prezage of course).

Louis Malenica is based in Sydney, Australia and has over twelve years’ experience in web application software development (with a strong focus on higher education and e-learning), and is the founder and creator of Prezage. He has a deep belief in the ability for e-learning and education technology to transform the world in a truly positive way. Email: prezage@gmail.com; Twitter: @prezage; Web: www.prezage.com.

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
Reverse Instruction Tools And Techniques (Part 1)

7 Stories From Educators About Teaching In The Flipped Classroom
Teacher’s recommendations for academic uses of 5 fun free presentation tools

About 

Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer and a faculty member at The College of Westchester in White Plains, NY and is the founder and author of EmergingEdTech.com. As an education technology advocate, he frequently delivers presentations on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. Walsh is also an author, and online educator, periodically running Flipped Class Workshops online. His latest eBook, the Flipped Classroom Workshop-in-a-Book was published in September, 2013 and is available here. In his spare time Walsh also writes, records, and performs original (and cover) songs (look for "K. Walsh" on iTunes or Amazon.com or check out his original song videos on here on YouTube ).

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

lesson plans June 23, 2012 at 1:03 am

It is always better to induce new technology to learning system. For KG classes it may bring enjoyment to kids and for higher level it would be good tools to understand quickly & more resources get accessed easily in organized ways. If tools are deigned considering the user, definitely they will be benefited. But this type of software should be user specific & all will be not suit to every age group / every discipline.

Jared S

Mark Upton March 21, 2012 at 9:54 am

Louis,

Enjoyed reading this post – a nice summary of the “flipping” concept and the potential impact that software solutions can have in terms of enhancing education. You obviously have a unique perspective with experience in both software and education, and I agree that some pretty exciting things could evolve in this space in the near future.

If you or any readers want to read further on the “flipped classroom” concept I have detailed my experiences with it in a professional sports coaching context –

http://www.sportsrelations.com.au/blog/blog/2012/02/06/flipping-the-player-learning-process-in-coaching/

On the topic of software solutions in education, I also have a cloud-based service coming (not nearly as advanced as prezage!) that revolves around online video for self-reflection of coaching behaviours and acquiring feedback from mentors/peers. Whilst we are targeting sports coaches I think it could also be a valuable tool for teachers/educators as well. We are calling it the “Coach Enhancement Platform”. For an overview you can check out –

http://www.sportsrelations.com.au/blog/blog/2012/03/16/the-coach-enhancement-platform/

Lastly, it is always nice to see a fellow Aussie making a great contribution!

cheers

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