The flipped classroom methodology makes sense intuitively: in the traditional classroom learners first hear of the concepts and theory in the classroom. The teacher is the ‘sage on the stage’ who has done the research and summarised the facts so that they can be served up to the learners in modules. The learner’s involvement is then to go home and do homework on their own.
But with the flipped classroom, the learners are first exposed to the theory in their own time at home. They do research and reading and come to class with the summaries. The classroom time is then used to practice the skills in a controlled environment under the guidance of the facilitator. (So homework tasks and class tasks are flipped – hence the name.)
I thought it would be an interesting idea to test the flipped classroom methodology with a learnership. We had a client who was keen to experiment and the learners were all workplace practitioners with many years’ experience in selected components of the full qualification. (The learnership is OD ETDP NQF 5.)
I knew that this would be challenging for the learners – but what I had not expected was how challenging it was going to be for me. I have trained this learnership a few times before, so I had all the slides, the facilitator guides, the external sources and readings, etc. I gave the learners all if this on pre-loaded onto tablet computers, along with an example of additional sources they should consult and read. Learners interacted with me, and each other, via an on-line chatroom and they completed the formative assessments prior to entering the classroom so that I could check that the basics had been grasped.
So, what did we do in the classroom – that was the challenge I faced. I had to completely re-think my approach to the contact time. This is a summary of what we did yesterday (Monday) – my first day of the learnership.
The first session was spent discussing the rules of engagement and the learnership/assessment preparation – but with far more interaction and participation than I have ever had before. The learners had really meaningful questions and we were able to really debate the assessment contract.
The second and third sessions involved a game of ‘trivial pursuit’ with a difference. Learners were given a category that linked to the different sections of the theory they had learnt and coloured cards. They had to formulate, in groups, 40 questions and answers that related to their category. This activity served to reinforce their theory (for a second time as the formative assessment did it the first time) in their subject category. Thereafter they played the revised ‘trivial pursuit’ game – using their questions – thus again reinforced the learning.
Pedagogically, the use of the day was far more productive than if I has simply stood at the front of the class and taught the theory. Of course I would usually have built in activities, but the flipped classroom allowed me to spend far more quality time this way.
The second day (today, Tuesday) has been spent debating which pedagogical theory they think underpins the NQF as well as their own workplace practice. They were able to use their tablet computers in class to access the internet to formulate their opinions and this was followed by a very active debate (with far more understanding than I have ever been able to generate after I have simply taught the theory – with no active research on the part of the learners).
This afternoon they are developing assessment tools for a skills programme of their choice – and this will result in a full assessment guide, activities and methods. This activity is a group activity and although I would usually have done something similar I have more time to do it meaningfully thanks to the fact that I am not teaching the theory.
I’ll let you know how it goes tomorrow! But I must say it is challenging my skills as a facilitator – and I loving it!