Brian Klaas, senior web systems designer at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, knows successfully flipping a classroom requires a custom process for each instructor. Klaas will share his insight and observations in the upcoming UBTech session, “How to unleash your inner Spielberg when flipping the classroom.” Here, he discusses a few highlights of the session.
The flipped classroom is a hot topic; everywhere Klaas goes, faculty are excited to hear more about the model, he says. But, after all the buzz, many are still confused on how to proceed with the flip. “With the flipped classroom, it is even more important to motivate students to do the work outside the class,” Klaas says. “We obviously can't rely on the physical constraints of a classroom. We have to keep students engaged, and ideally, help them remember the information shared during class time.”
Fortunately, flipped classes can be designed to keep students more engaged. “As we all know, it's always about time. Many faculty are dealing with the pressures of research and publication outside their teaching responsibilities. As a result of the time crunch, many faculty take the tools they're given at face value,” says Klaas. “It's called 'functional fixedness:' we're using things only in the way they are first presented to us.”
Consider the way PowerPoint is used in the classroom—many instructors use the program only to create lists of bullet points. “Essentially, this is the wrong way to present information. Are students able to internalize information this way? Studies on attention span and memory retention continue to say no,” Klaas says. “Our obligation as educators is to think about how we design and present information on the screen.”
Here lies the opportunity for presenters to “unleash their inner Spielberg.” Klaas encourages faculty to think of the PowerPoint as a camera, zooming in on certain points and panning over others. But, to deliver truly engaging content, presenters need to act as both inspired creator and concise editor. “To keep people interested and respect people's time, we have to think about editing work and what information is most essential." he says. "This can be extremely challenging for people who have spent their lives submerged in the subject matter. Faculty need to remember that unless they are leading a doctorate seminar or similar, this is just another class for students.”
Klaas is unabashedly enthusiastic about the future of the flipped classroom, but he believes the model requires change at the institutional level to be most effective. Questions surrounding accreditation systems and how courses are scheduled must be addressed when the traditional classroom model is disrupted. “This changing model is really a business challenge. It requires administration to think about seat time and class hours (or lack thereof), and what that means for the current accreditation system,” says Klaas. “Flipped classrooms will make learning more flexible and modularized. Eventually, students will demand these options.”
To learn more about Brian Klaas's upcoming UBTech session, “How to unleash your inner Spielberg when flipping the classroom,” click here.