The iPad and ‘Flipping’ – Reflections of a concerned teacher
June 8, 2012 38 Comments
Reflection 1 – This is the most stimulating year I have spent in teaching.
Reflection 2 – I’m concerned and it’s all my fault!
One word sums up this dissonance – opportunity.
The iPad has provided countless learning opportunities for my students through generic and tailored applications. The practice of learning alongside students has promoted a difference in my teaching style. I have searched for techniques that best suit these opportunities and that search has been made easier by new technologies. So, why the concern?
I’m just not sure if it’s right?
I wasn’t prepared for ‘flipping’ a classroom when I trained to be a teacher. ‘Instant on’ devices weren’t available to students with content finding capabilities. Taxonomy was something a biology teacher once mentioned and I definitely didn’t ask questions of thousands of people if I was stuck!!
Lifelong learning is a must but I have be honest with myself. Was I content to deliver very similar lessons each year to students, knowing that grades would be ok? Did I push myself to tweak activities for all learners? The answer to these questions is underpinned by the fact that I was trained to deliver structured content. I know I should have personalised learning for all and embraced the external pressures of grades/reports/observations and school ethos. However, I would be lying if I claimed to have met the needs of all students in all lessons.
The Comfort Zone
Students expect content driven lessons and feel comfortable on the note-taking treadmill. Educators feel they are ‘doing their job’ if they do most of the work in a lesson and all is well with the world. This year, that comfort zone has been challenged. Opportunity has made excitement and resistance unlikely bedfellows. There is great satisfaction in leaving a comfort zone but, for the students’ sake, it has to be right.
Flipping the classroom appeared to be the only way to ‘create’ time in school to utilise the iPad with a safety net. Having read the work of ‘flipped class’ aficionados Jon Bergmann and Crystal Kirch, screencasts were made that students could view at home to learn content. Classroom time was then used for any number of activities that enhanced learning (where the iPad really excelled). I found myself having more contact time with individual students and relaxed, over time, safe in the knowledge I had done my normal ‘work’ with the screencasts. Then things became messy!
My initial twitter concerns have already been chronicled with the conclusion that twitter is an outstanding professional development tool. However, it is important to filter and reflect on any advice as there are so many variables to consider for your own students. Even though I can find many examples of successful ‘flipped’ classrooms, or the use of iPads in schools, it is easy to ride the wave of positivity. It has to be right for your own classes and this is very difficult to measure. Twitter is an incredible resource but for a developing pedagogy it could provide a rose-tinted viewpoint.
Twitter also exposes so many ideas that you could change your lessons daily (which wouldn’t be a bad thing). The problem with all the trial and error is that you can get lost amongst the initiatives alongside your main objectives and school policy. In short, I am indebted to twitter and my PLN for all the great ideas and support. Inevitably, during exam season. I worry if it all benefited the students?
As with everything in education these days, final grades and tables will suggest whether I was right to challenge the way I have taught in the past. I believe the iPad and the ‘flipped’ classroom concept are a natural fit and the pedagogical model will develop.
I have never been so enthused about learning. I just hope it’s right!