Information at your Fingertips

This week’s topic is one that I have become very interested in, not only because of its logic, but because it is now how I experience a much more effective way of learning personally. Over the course of a year I learned how to play guitar well enough to play in a band that is now being offered payment for gigs. Could I have done that going to an instructor in person? Not sure, but I am convinced not.

Today’s level of technology has created a huge shift in the educations system. The only problem is that the education system itself is shifting extremely slow compared to technology. Technology now offers the educational system new ways to make use of in-school time. However, it is not uncommon to walk into a classroom and see a teacher spending large amounts of time communicating knowledge that is available online in many different formats. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve witnessed teachers delivering very engaging and meaningful lessons that involved a great amount of student participation and learning. However, I still think we can take these skills that teachers have and use technology along side to create even more time engaging, empowering and challenging students. As stated in the article, ‘A Flipped Classroom Model: A Full Picture’, by Jackie Gerstein, The advantage of the flipped classroom is that the content that is often the theoretical/lecture-based component of the lesson, becomes more easily accessed and controlled by the learner. What this means for teachers is that they can do more of what they want to during class time that involves engagement and interaction with the learners.

It also states in her article that ‘One of the major, evidenced-based advantages of the use of video is that learners have control over the media with the ability to review parts that are misunderstood, which need further reinforcement, and/or those parts that are of particular interest.’ This point directly connects back to my introductory statement about how I was able to learn very efficiently and effectively by continuously pausing, rewinding and starting video-based lessons at my own pace in order to take control over learning the content being covered in the lesson. Doing this not only placed the lesson at the speed I needed, but it also allowed me to practice with application that worked best for my own needs. This would not work  as well with an instructor and in a full class setting. I’m pretty sure if the amount of times I paused and rewound the video would probably be a little frustrating to the instructor in person and definitely to the others in my class who were at a much higher level than me. Then, after I am able to practice what is easily accessible at home, I can go to band practice, engage with actually playing songs and problem solve and communicate with my other band members which has done wonders towards accelerating my skills.

I will end with this quote I liked from this week’s Connected Principles article, “Why do we, in the status quo,  replicate in person in our classrooms what is easily available elsewhere, the content delivery/skill modeling, and then have kids apply their learning to difficult problems at home, without us there to help?” I think it’s because how unfamiliar and messy this would be when we first implement this as part of a classroom routine. However, I also think that once students get used to this and using class time as means to play with the content and understandings, we will start seeing more motivation and engagement with students in the classroom.

One Reply to “Information at your Fingertips”

  1. Hi Rob,
    That’s amazing what you have been able to achieve in such a short period of time to become such a talented guitar player. I think you’ve hit on some pretty powerful strengths that technology has played in your learning, and by being in a band, you’re receiving the powerful feedback piece that sometimes learning on your own is missing. But I think the real key to your success, and the success of a flipped classroom is owning your learning. I think the reason that flipping a classroom has the potential of failing is when students are not motivated and don’t follow through with their learning outside the classroom; therefore, they are not prepared to engage with the material in the class. You were clearly very motivated to learn the notes/songs so that you could be an engaged member of the band during practice. Perhaps our role then is to guide our students in discovering the ‘purpose’ of learning…..that goes beyond learning for a unit test and develop the tools/strategies/opportunities for reflection that allow them to “learn how to learn”. A great blog post “The Flip: End of a Love Affair” (link to highlights one teacher’s experience with flipping her chemistry classroom, and my favorite quote, which captures my own teaching philosophy is that “when students own their learning, then deep, authentic, transformative things happen in a classroom.”

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