In 2013-14, the CIT led a group of twelve faculty through our Flipping the Classroom Fellowship. The Fellowship was an opportunity for faculty from different disciplines to share experiences and learn about using active learning techniques in their classrooms.
In this second in our series of blog posts on the Fellows’s experience, two of the faculty discuss how they used video to prepare students before class.
Many of the Fellows produced short videos for students to gain basic knowledge before class so that their classroom sessions could be used to actively engage the students in solving problems and applying what they had learned. Some faculty used video in lieu of lectures or to supplement the course with explanations of difficult concepts their students had difficulty with. The video segments were always used in conjunction with other material and activities as part of the overall redesign of their courses.
Visiting Professor of the Practice of Public Policy and Canadian Studies
Sanford School of Public Policy
My class on North American is a team-based class. Students are expected to learn much of the course content at home, and we spend class time developing that content further, or applying it to specific policy cases.
This Fellowship has given me many more ideas on the kinds of materials that might be useful to improve the performance of my students in class; I have also looked more critically as the materials I was assigning, and made sure they were really pertinent to my learning objectives. For example, I have a learning goal of improving student writing, so I have made my own videos explaining the basics of memo writing.
Associate Professor of the Practice
Slavic and Eurasian Studies
While my language courses have always included in-class, interactive, “hands-on” activities of the type that distinguishes “flipped” courses from traditional lecture-style courses, the highly structured nature of Russian grammar demands that I also engage in a lot of explaining — even lecturing –to insure that my students grasp the conceptual foundations of Russian grammatical structures. Over the years I found myself spending more and more time on explanation, and consequently the students had less and less time to practice speaking and listening to Russian in class.
With the start of this Fellowship I began to create what I call “info-vids” for my students that casually but carefully convey all the information students need to start practicing new structures. These proved to be extremely useful for explaining not only Russian grammar, but also for clarifying or reviewing basic grammatical concepts in English (e.g., what are direct and indirect objects? conditional vs. hypothetical statements? attributive vs. predicative adjectives?) At the very beginning of the two-semester Beginning Russian course, students watched these as part of their homework and had a lot more time in class to speak Russian.
From the experiences of others in the Fellowship I learned the pros and cons of different video-making platforms, and while I am still struggling with the difficult choice between ease of use and quality, I found the Fellowship to be my best resource for instruction and support with these issues. At the same time, my colleagues in the Fellowship helped me become a more efficient and effective teacher by encouraging me to increase small group work during class and by convincing me of the wisdom of posting keys and having students check homework with each other in class once in a while, rather than correcting -every night- each one of 25 individual written homework assignments. The unofficial results are in: at the end of the year students showed a higher level of proficiency in Russian than in previous years, and I’m more relaxed and enjoying teaching more than ever.