- Well, as of last blog, I was doing a lot of talking to myself. Then, life intervened, in the form of the semester starting. I managed to get about halfway through the list of chapters I need to lecture on. I am safe until about 3-4 weeks from now, when I run out of time! Somehow I will find the time to make tape and post more lectures. Meanwhile, I am discovering that each step of this first time flipping adventure brings new challenges. For example:
1. I now have to prep for my class for the first time in many many many years. Why? Well, I can’t lecture anymore, as they are listening to those outside of class. So what am I doing for those two, LONG, class periods? The whole point of flipping is to open up time when you are together with the students for activities and conversation that will permit expansion and deepening of their understanding. I need to come up with two LONG (did I mention LONG?) periods of activities. So now I prep.
2. With respect to prepping activities, I face a challenge beyond finding good ones. One day of my class is in a computer lab, and one day is in a conventional classroom. So, the activities can either be non-technical hands-on demonstrations, or me showing them something for conversation purposes (these are the non-computer classroom days), or we have the entire world of demonstrations and activities at our disposal (days in the computer lab). So I am in search of two very different kinds of activities, and I have to remember what day I am doing what where (that’s the real challenge!).
3. With respect to prepping the days for computer lab time, I have learned the most important, and perhaps ironic lesson of this entire process so far. I like to talk, but I can be silenced. The students don’t like to talk so much in class, so they are ok with being silenced. Who is silencing all of us? The computers. Many of the activities are individual, each person looking at something on the computer. Some of them are audio accompanied, not just reading, so to keep the chaos and cacophony down, they use head phones. The first day I prepared a lovely list of things for them to do and see (I call them scavenger hunts), I was proud to have prepped, but could not have been more miserable when class was over. First, I had to be quiet. Second, they were quiet. In other words, no one was talking, and more importantly, no one was talking TO anyone. I realized how little I enjoyed that, and found myself flabbergasted at the idea that I had just discovered in-person distance learning, minus the digital communication. If I continued to conduct class in this manner, I would lose more than half of what I enjoy about teaching, which is interaction. Where is the irony in all of this? Here goes. In my efforts to utilize technology to flip, I was losing my connection to the students, losing interaction, instead of gaining it. So when we are in the classroom, technology has to take a back seat sometimes. The activities that permit that sort of interaction are very low tech. Flipping provoked a return to low-tech. Irony indeed.
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