Lecture Goes Online

Yesterday I read what I found to be a valuable article entitled “Five Questions to Ask Before Flipping a Lesson” written for EdSurge by Ben Stern, a Technology Integrationist for a middle School in New York.

Stern notes: “The best lecturers are more than content-deliverers. They captivate their audiences, allow the lecture to evolve in response to the reactions of the audience, and ultimately put on a show that is greater than the sum of its parts. This theater is necessary to excite students about content that does not inspire excitement on its own. In truth, the excitement is less about the content of the lecture than about the lecturer him or herself. But this is a shortcut, and ultimately not a very effective one. Students will learn the most when they are learning for themselves, not their teacher.”

The concept of lecture, one-way delivery of information, is being challenged by more student-centered and active learning models. The concept of “flipping” a classroom refers to a shift where faculty become facilitators of learning. The “lecture” occurs outside class as homework and students come to class to work in groups as well as discuss/use that information. Often online tools and systems can be used to facilitate that transition.

This was one of the more powerful learning experiences for me when I first began designing blended and online courses. By virtue of switching to a web platform – I was forced to rethink everything I did!  I had to start with my student outcomes and reverse engineer the course to figure out how to best get the students there. I had to ask questions like what do students need to know? What is the best use of our time in class? What can they do online to prepare for the work we do in class together?

What I have always liked about a blended course is it allows me to leverage what is best about being in the classroom with students and what I like about online learning. We ask students many times to be critical of their practice, to think about the reasons behind their work. As faculty we should do the same whether or not we ever teach a blended or 100% online course.

Below are some of the questions Stern asked and answered in this article. What are your answers?

1. Why am I lecturing?
2. Why do the students need to understand this idea or skill?
3. What will we do in class that will take advantage of being together?