(PRWEB) May 06, 2014
For years, a teacher’s primary role was to collect information and disseminate it through a “sage-on-a-stage” model of instruction. However, with the rapid increase in reach of the Internet, information is now freely and easily accessible. The classroom is no longer the single source of information, though it remains a very important one.
Voice of the Student
Students are clearly telling educators that class time should not be spent giving them information they can easily get elsewhere. Instead, the class hours could be used more effectively by helping them resolve the questions they encountered while consuming information elsewhere (typically online); evaluate and analyze alternate views they have encountered; and connect the dots of information to create a better understanding of a concept (turning information into knowledge)—addressing loosely the analysis, evaluation, and creation phases of Bloom’s taxonomy. This is the basic idea of a flipped classroom.
Popular Channels of Information Consumption
We know that students increasingly are getting their information online—85% comes from online sources, while 15% comes from TV or print. This begs the question: Why do we deliver the classroom information through a face-to-face channel, and not online, dovetailing with the other sources of information?
Creation – The First Mile Problem
This does not seem like much of a problem, until we encounter the challenges that educators have experienced in converting their classrooms to a digital format. Teachers around the world, from Australia to Singapore to India to the U.S., while validating the efficacy of eLearning have felt challenged in creating engaging content.
Two issues come to mind:
Engaging In Isolation
It is well-established that different students consume information at different rates. The flipped classroom facilitates this by allowing each student to go over the information at his or her own pace.
Students will rewind online video content frequently as they navigate through the digital material. This means we will have students consuming content in a very asynchronous manner.
But, how do we know which students have consumed the lesson content and to what extent? Without this information, the planning of classroom activities remains ad-hoc—similar to the traditional classroom model, where students got the same standardized homework.
Classroom content that previously was consumed in a social context now will need to be consumed in relative isolation at home. If a student did not understand something in a traditional classroom, he could raise a hand and get a clarification from the teacher—or get it resolved through a quick chat with a fellow student. And most teachers could sense, just by looking at students, whether they were getting through—or whether an alternate explanation was called for. Teachers also could ask students questions in class to gauge their understanding.
In a flipped classroom, that sense of connection is lost. While this isolation is well-documented from the perspective of the student, there is a significant loss from the point of view of the teacher as well. For students, this “isolation” means they might not receive intervention at the point of need.
Gaps in understanding early on in a digital lesson might lead to widening gaps in conceptual understanding down the road, leading to frustration and eventual dropout. Students need to study during their own time and pace in an asynchronous manner, but they need their questions answered at the speed of a synchronous process. Can technology help without making the teacher review the “question board” 24-7?
The “Ask a Question” feature in Adobe Presenter attempts to solve this problem. Over the course of a few semesters, it’s possible that most questions students might come up with can be found in the question bank for a lesson—and using Natural Language Processing (NLP) techniques, we can deliver those answers to students at synchronous speed.