Pedagogy of Flipped Learning: Brief Report of ETMA Teachers’ Workshop

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ETMA conducted a three-day workshop on the Pedagogy of Flipped Learning from 1-3 March, 2017 in DAV’s Public School, sector 14,  Gurugram. 34 teachers from elementary, secondary and higher secondary from Kendriya Vidyalayas from Gurugram and Delhi Regions and Public Schools participated in the workshop.

Program objective was: every participant would prepare Flipped Learning Design on one selected chapter/theme/topic on contents that is covered in 3 to 6 periods in conventional classrooms. Informed by the programme objective, it was conducted in the form of a series of production workshops.  That every participant prepared a Flipped Learning Design on a chapter /theme /topic that they teach in their school indicates that the goal was achieved. The Flipped Learning Designs covered a wide range of subjects like literature, mathematics, science, social and environmental studies ranging from elementary grades to higher secondary stages.

Innovative Features

There were a few innovative features in this program.

  1. Firstly, content or component analysis of Flipped Learning Design was carried out by the faculty. On each of the components, there was a short or long workshop duly sequenced as per the logic of the Learning Design. Initially, participants prepared output on each component like choice of a topic/chapters/theme; content analysis; stating learning objectives in terms of learning outcome; drafting lead questions to engage students into discussion and collaborative learning; developing test for learning assessment at the end of the implementation of the Flipped Learning Design; accessing, Curating online video on the chapters and or creating a video lecture or a PowerPoint presentation with voice-over by the teachers herself; choosing learning tactics suitable to the theme to engage the students actively into the learning tasks; allocating time to each task; and finally putting them into the framework or template of a Flipped Learning Design. This workshop design worked very well as indicated by the output.
  2. The workshop built into it the Flipped Learning Model. Teachers who were enrolled with good lead time were enrolled in a WhatsApp group. However, participants who joined at the last moment could not participate in the WhatsApp group. Prof. Mukhopadhyay sent a few short messages/lessons on Flipped Learning; also a few online references on texts and video on the subject. Programmes started with a discussion on the Flipped Learning based on the WhatsApp messages.
  3. In this 18 hour program, teacher talk or direct instruction in the form of presentation was less than two hours; remaining 16 hours, teachers engaged themselves actively in the learning tasks. Thus, the programme achieved an i/d[1] ratio 12:88 when average capacity building programme for teachers is almost in the reverse proportion.
  4. Another special feature of the program was involvement of the sponsors of the participants. Additional Commissioner (Academic) of KVS and principals of DAV Public Schools of sector 14 and 48-49, and director of HDFC group of schools also participated and addressed the participants assuring institutional support for the implementation of the innovative flipped learning design.
  5. Teachers were asked to bring their own laptops and the dongles for Internet connectivity. Except for five or six participants who either had desktops or share their laptops with other members of the family, everyone brought their laptops and worked on their own laptops. They were discouraged to write the elements of design on paper. They did very well.
  6. It was decided collectively that teachers will implement the flipped learning design in their respective schools in the form of  action research. However, this will require them to prepare four or five more designs to cover about 20-25 periods.

Participants’ Suggestions

Participants were invited to make suggestions for improving the effectiveness of the program. Most of the suggestions were around improved infrastructure like providing a laptop and Internet connectivity during the program by the organizers. At such low-cost programs, it’s not possible for the training organizers to provide laptops and Internet connectivity. One suggestion was to provide a model lesson which is one of the age old practices in B.Ed. colleges. Since the entire workshop was built on constructivist paradigm, it was not desirable to help participating teachers to imitate a model. Agenda was to help them develop their own model based on the basic principles of flipped learning. Other suggestions were extending the period of the training, repeating the training, etc. There are no substantive suggestions or input on the actual programme design or the outcome of the program which can be interpreted as their level of satisfaction.

Mentors’ Learning

During the workshops, the faculty-mentors moved around, mentored and checked quality output from the teachers.

  • It was realized that although all teachers have heard of Bloom’s Taxonomy, it is not adequately understood. Resultantly, many of them found difficulty in stating learning objectives in terms of learning outcome.
  • Similarly, although all teachers construct tests for learning assessment in their schools, their understanding and skills of developing test items specially MCQ’s need considerable improvement. As a test case, one teacher presented one of the MCQ items on a topic in biology to the participants. With the help of other biology teachers, they collectively worked on developing alternative distracters. In all, nine distracters were created. On reviewing the quality of distracters, only one distracter from the original list was retained; the other two had to be replaced.
  • Third important problem faced by the teachers was to reimagine their role as teachers of the new generation of digital native students. They were not comfortable with the idea that students can learn from online sources supported by teacher mentored peer group consultation and discussion, projects, experiments and survey, Internet browsing, etc. They still believed in ‘have to tell’ rather than ‘students will be able to discover knowledge and find solutions with her help’. They still prefer to talk – direct teaching over engaging students into learning activities though that is the only way of developing sustainable higher order cognition.
  • They found it difficult to believe that students in the digital age develop different brain wiring and learn differently than the way the teachers and the parents learnt.
  • Two teachers tried recording Video Lectures on trial basis – one on video camera, the other on Mobile Phone Camera. Few tried to create PowerPoint Slides with Voice Over. They need training and some basis minimum facilities in their schools for producing curricular video lectures to compliment online resources.
  • Younger teachers were relatively more enthusiastic about this innovative instructional design than their seniors. Also, they were more tech savvy.
  • There was a huge gender disparity among the participants; Out of 34, 29 were women teachers; and only 5 were men.

Follow Up

The program was designed not to be the end, but as beginning of experimenting with innovations. Teachers were given an option to go back home to revise their Flipped Learning Design and send back to ETMA. Out of 34 participants, 24 revised flipped learning designs have been received within the first three days when this short is being drafted. Hopefully, the remaining 10 designs would reach ETMA mail box soon.  ETMA would submit the output of the workshop to the respective authorities in the KVS and the public schools.

An usual complain is training programs are not effective because teachers do not implement or practice it when their back-to-school. During the meetings with the sponsors, Prof. Mukhopadhyay mentioned that training effectiveness depends on the partnership of the training organization and implementing institutions. Participants are not accountable to the training institution; instead they are accountable to their own schools and authorities. If the schools and authorities monitor the teachers ETMA would hold hand and mentor of the teachers on implementation.

The WhatsApp group is continuing after the programme. It is being used as the medium for inputs on action research so that  teachers can undertake action research and see the results for themselves.

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Note: ‘I’ stands for indirect where participants/learners are active and‘d’ stands for Direct where the instructor is active. Research evidence favours reverse i/d ratio providing greater space to the learner.