So we are about six weeks into our flipped economics class and I thought I would post some honest reflections. For the most part the class has gone very well. We have students listening to the podcasts, taking notes in the Google Doc, posting to their blogs and interacting in the discussions in the comments. So here are some thoughts thus far on the process.
Good - The students seem to be listening and "enjoying" the podcasts. Several have downloaded them to their phones and I have even caught some listening to them at school (kind of a serial experience to be honest). Others have even admitted to listening to them on their drive to school in the morning. These also really came in handy during our snow days to keep the class moving.
Realizations - As expected you can tell a few have not listened to the podcast when you engage them in class discussion but this is no different than when I asked them to read prior to coming to class before. we really have bounced around as much as I would have thought but that just may be because we were covering the basics which are needed for other topics.
I think keeping them to under 20 minutes is the best length for a night's homework as the couple we have over that have not been received as well. I am also considering going back and added some video for examples for next semester as there are things that need visuals that we don't cover as well presently in podcast form. Although those that listen in the car or on non-screen based devices will not get the full experience I think it would help many.
In class discussions
Good - we have had some really good in class discussions that have gone much deeper than previous in class discussions teaching a more
traditional way. We have hit upon some advanced topics that we never got to in the past. Some students that I would not really have expected have become extremely valuable contributors to the class discussion.
Bad/Realization - This isn't really bad per say but it is so much more difficult to teach this way. You have to make sure you have some good stuff before you walk into class to spark the discussion. I have found I really like audio (been using npr quite a bit) to kick off the discussions. Then you really have to step back and throw questions at them and try to guide the discussion in the way you want it to go without stepping in and just telling them what you want them to know. Some days we do this better than others. The days it works its brilliant, the other days its only slightly worse than a the old method so I take that as a win.
Good - The task of having a scribe takes notes everyday has worked out well. Each person has done a pretty good job of taking the job seriously and getting some content. When we use the Researchers they do a good job of finding information to help explain things we didn't understand or were wrong about.
Realization - We need to find a better way to get them to go back afterward and add to the notes. I honestly don't know how many of them actually use them that much but how is that truly different from before. Still we need to encourage a better collection of the information. We need to ask more proving questions sometimes and use the Researchers in class more.
Blogs and Comments
Good - some of the blog posts and comments have been really inspired. I love the fact that these students are related so many economic topics to things they are passionate about. Get such a wide variety of posts and it allows us to get to know the students on a different level. Overall this along with the great class discussion days have been my favorite parts. It is also good to see some of the students who don't speak in class as much demonstrate their learning here.
Realization - It's more obvious when some of the students don't do their work. I guess it makes me feel like more of a failure when a student doesn't post to their blog than when they simply didn't turn in their homework. Also need to keep pushing them to put more economic analysis into the posts since some mostly summarize the article. Finally making them proofread their posts is also a struggle (note: of course I just realized I posted without proofreading this so I need to work on that as well).
Overall this has been a great experience thus far and it will only get better the more we are able to refine it. The things I think we need to work on the most going forward is getting more outside voices into the classroom through the blog and skype. We had our first guest speakers last weekend it went well but it is hard to get them to be questioners instead of lecturers as it is for us as well.
Please let me know if you have any suggestions and stop by the blogs at http://oakridge-Econ.blogspot.com.