June 23, 2014, 9:41 am

Guest post: Blending and flipping modern architecture

There’s a lot on this blog about the flipped or inverted classroom, and it’s primarily from the mathematics and STEM perspective. I am often asked how the inverted classroom might look in the humanities or social sciences. I’d like to welcome Jeff Schramm, an associate professor of History and Political Science at Missouri University of Science and Technology, whose guest post today details his use of the flipped classroom in a history of architecture course. Enjoy! –rt

IMG_4765How many of you reading this have a formal dining room in your home? A separate room, not just a dining area in a kitchen or great room. How often does this dining room get used for its intended purpose? Daily? Weekly? A couple times a year on major holidays?

This is how I begin my Architecture, Technology and Society, 1750-present class. It’s my first attempt at helping my students to think about the built…

Read More

June 16, 2014, 5:18 pm

Three updates on Mathematica and The Wolfram Language

wolfram-language-and-mathematica-icons1Greetings from Indianapolis, my old stomping grounds, where I’m attending the 2014 American Society for Engineering Education Conference. I’m speaking tomorrow morning on the flipped classroom in calculus and its implications for engineering education, and I’m also the Mathematics Division chair this year and so I have some plate-spinning functions to perform.

But what I wanted to just briefly note right now are some news items that I picked up from some folks at the Wolfram Research booth about upcoming developments with Mathematica and the still-sort-of-new Wolfram Language.

First: Mathematica is not being rebranded as the Wolfram Language. Two weeks ago, this post was put up at the Wolfram Blog that said

Back in 2012, Jon McLoone wrote a program that analyzed the coding examples of over 500 programming languages that were compiled on the wiki site Rosetta Code. He…

Read More

June 13, 2014, 2:40 pm

Three issues with the case for banning laptops

2984626120_6f756e2da7_mThis article, “The Case for Banning Laptops in the Classroom”, written by Dan Rockmore for The New Yorker, has been getting considerable airtime on social media this week. As a classroom instructor I can certainly attest to the power of technology to distract and interfere with student learning. But I had three issues with the “case” being made.

1. Because the headline focuses on banning laptops from the classroom, it’s easy to miss this very important point made in the article:

These examples [of how learning is negatively affected by the presence of technology] can be seen as the progeny of an ill-conceived union of twenty-first-century tools (computers, tablets, smartphones) with nineteenth-century modalities (lectures). I’m not discussing the “flipped classroom,” wherein lectures are accessed outside of class on digital devices and the classroom is used as a…

Read More

June 5, 2014, 8:00 pm

Four things I wish I’d known about the flipped classroom

I have been spending this week at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, North Carolina as a plenary speaker and instructional faculty at the Teaching and Learning Institute of the Appalachian College Association. This is the second year in a row I’ve been at the TLI as a plenary speaker and staff member, and I’m honored to have been asked back, and it’s been a great week. I’ll have more to say about the TLI in upcoming posts.

For now, though, I wanted to share another thing I did this week, which was to give a talk to the faculty at Ecole Centrale Paris, one of the foremost technical universities in France on the flipped classroom. I was able to be in two places at the same time because the talk to ECP was given via pre-recorded video. That talk was given at the same time as my plenary talk at Lenoir-Rhyne, in fact! Is there a prize for this?

The talk was titled, “Four Things I…

Read More

May 19, 2014, 12:25 pm

Technology, learning, and institutional mission statements

13164220234_91e79f4575_mRight now I’m preparing for a talk I’m giving next month, in which I’ll be speaking on using technology to connect students, faculty and institutions to the fundamentally human activities of learning and growth. Of those three groups – students, faculty, and institutions – I’m finding it to be a lot easier to talk about students and faculty and their relationship to technology than it is to talk about institutions. I’m wondering: Why is that?

After all, people are messy – we are a combination of social backgrounds, economic statuses, geography, past learning experiences, attitudes, preconceptions and more. When we advocate for the “use of technology” in learning, this phrase has to take all of these aspects of each person involved into account. That’s what makes the “use of technology” hard – and it explains why simplistic applications of technology in…

Read More

May 16, 2014, 9:46 am

Flipped learning skepticism: What about technology?

90720334_b9af55cc90_mTo continue the blog post series  I’ve been doing (installments one, two, and three) that addresses skepticisms about flipped learning, I wanted to dip into something other than my own comment sections, and go to a general class of skepticisms I’ve heard when I do workshops. Those skepticisms involve technology. Specifically, although I’ve never heard a single formulation of this skepticism, there are two ways it can occur:

  • I’m skeptical about the flipped classroom because implementing it requires technology, and not all students have access to the technology they need.
  • I’m skeptical about the flipped classroom because implementing it requires technology, and I (the instructor) don’t have the time/inclination/skill to learn what I need.

As I’ll explain, I think it’s possible these are legitimate concerns[1], but they’re easily dealt with in a number of ways.

Read More

May 5, 2014, 1:07 pm

Flipped learning skepticism: Do students want to have lectures?

3036729806_47d038324b_mThis article continues a look at some of the skepticisms I’ve seen about flipped learning and the flipped classroom. Previously, we discussed whether flipped learning means having students learn everything on their own and whether students can even learn on their own in the first place.

This time I want to focus on an issue that was the third point in a good comment from a previous post about flipped learning. In that post, I was reporting about a framework for defining what flipped learning is. The authors of that framework laid out four “pillars of practice” for the flipped classroom, one of which was the creation of a learning culture — student-centered communities of inquiry instead of instructor-centered lectures. The comment on that was:

As far as creating a “learning culture”? Again, this was more possible when I worked at a 4 year school. It is possible to some extent, but…

Read More

April 30, 2014, 12:49 pm

Flipped learning skepticism: Can students really learn on their own?

96516632_dfe685dc9c_mWe’re currently looking at points of skepticism about flipped learning and the flipped classroom. In the last post, we discussed the issue of students objecting to the flipped classroom because it is nothing more than having students teach themselves the subject. My response to that was that flipped learning should never look like the instructor simply giving students reading to do and walking away; like any effective pedagogy, it should involve a partnership between student and instructor that focuses on crucial learning experiences in class, which under the flipped model is wide open for such experiences.

Here’s another point of skepticism brought up in an earlier discussion about flipped learning, and it’s related to the first one. As with last time, I am quoting directly from one of the comments on an even earlier post:

I work at a community college. Many students are there…

Read More

April 28, 2014, 12:00 pm

Flipped learning skepticism: Is flipped learning just self-teaching?

3366045227_b2c630bde5_mI had to take a bit of a hiatus for the last two weeks to finish up the semester and to give and grade exams. Now that this is over, I wanted to come back and address some of the comments in these two posts. Specifically, many of those comments are principled skepticisms of flipped learning and the flipped classroom, and rather than bury my responses in an already crowded comment thread, I thought they deserved to be brought up point by point for discussion.

Here’s the first one to bring up, and it’s a tough one. This (and many of the other topics I’ll be bringing up) come directly from Manda Caine’s comment on one of those earlier posts. She said:

When my colleagues and I have [taught with a flipped classroom], students do not perceive that a professor is teaching them at all, so we have comments such as, “We could just do this at home” or “Why am I paying all this…

Read More

April 14, 2014, 2:57 pm

The hidden costs of unsolicited textbooks — a view from the mailroom

Back in January I posted an article calling for an end to unsolicited review copies of textbooks being sent to professors. Interestingly, on Reddit a student at my university who works for the mail services department did an AMA, and I had the chance to ask: What kind of impact does it make on the university, from an infrastructure or mail services point of view, to have all these unsolicited books being sent in? Keep in mind that we’re a public university of 24,000 students and lots and lots of faculty. Here are some highlights from his response, which I thought was pretty interesting though not totally surprising:

Ugh, I HATE those! Nobody wants them, nobody asks for them, and they take up valuable space in our truck and our holding area.

As far as the cost it passes onto us, it’s definitely hard to quantify, but I can tell you all the different ways we waste time on those…

Read More