Some of my readers no doubt graduated from college before the turn of the century. It is likely that their classes were taught traditionally. I know an accounting colleague who is very traditional. He lectures on Mondays and Wednesdays. On Fridays he works homework problems that have been assigned for students to work at home. After the weekend, he is on to a new chapter. Born before the advent of computers, he still uses an overhead projector. Many younger profs have ditched overheads for PowerPoint.
In my previous post, I made the point that in the education sector, we have not (yet) seen the radical technology-driven advancement that has characterised other industries in the last quarter-century because rather than allowing technology to liberate us from the limitations of yesterday, we have typically rejected technologies that don’t fit our existing model and instead put our resources into tools that support the old, comfortable way of doing things. We’ve replaced whiteboards with interactive whiteboards, text books with texts on CD ROM, Encyclopaedia Britannica with Wikipedia, and pens with Microsoft Word. In themselves, these tools are all good – but they are good tools that don’t require us to change our pedagogy.
What then, would make a significant change? One example, I think, is the flipped classroom model. The “Flipped Classroom” is a term first used by Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams some time ago but has started to gain traction in 2011, following Sal Khan’s TED talk.
At it’s simplest, flipped teaching involves using podcasts, (whether audio podcast, vodcast, screencast), to teach students at times when they would normally be on their own doing individual homework. This frees up class time for exercise work that would once have been set for homework, while the teacher is there to act as a personal tutor. (hence the term ‘flipped’).
In my own experience (I started flipping my classes in 2005 – well before the term was coined), it also makes time in class for more discussions, debates, role-plays, modelling activities, experiments and group work. Each of these requires people to be together. A lecture does not. It’s not just about doing more online. It’s about considering what works best online, and what works best face-to-face and curating each of these to make our precious class time more valuable.
This is not just squeezing technology into an existing structure. It’s allowing technology to break us out of a model that served us before we had the Internet and when the only times teachers had to talk to their students was four class periods a week.
Got it? Provide video lectures and assign textbook reading for students to study at home. Students come to class for interactive exercises and tutoring from the professor. Let me assure you, this is not your parent’s classroom.
We have yet to generate high quality, slick educational videos for accounting classrooms. Besides, flipping the classroom works best when each professor generates his or her own videos.
Here are some examples of videos (available on YouTube) with teacher created content. The first video is authored by Salmon Khan. Khan has been featured on Ted Talks and the Wall Street Journal. His videos have received millions of hits (a few hundred thousand per day).
The second video I show is Paul Anderson, a Bozeman high school biology teacher. He creates slick videos as a means of flipping his classrooms.
I think a flipped classroom could very well work for accounting 101 and 102. I have queried my Intermediate Accounting students as to what they would like. They like that I have wordprocessed my lectures so they can read and reread them. Providing transcripts of my lectures liberates me to design lots of interactive work in my classes. Yet, mostly my students prefer to work homework problems together, all class and every class.
Not everyone likes the flipped classroom, though. Stanford is flipping many classes. Ben Rudolph, a junior computer science major, has blogged about his displeasure:
Online lectures suck. Sure, they’re great for rainy days or people learning at a distance or people that don’t go to Stanford. However, these new classes are getting rid of in-person lectures completely. I met barely anyone in my CS229a class. Everything was done alone in my room, which is kind of crappy especially when there is such a nice campus right outside.
Flipping the classroom is definitely something to think about. I am evaluating Wacom digital tablets for purchase so that I can become the Salman Khan of accounting.
Debit and credit – - David Albrecht