From HAPS President to Flipped-Classroom-Apprentice: Why I also ‘drank the kool-aid’

These past two and a half months as HAPS president have been keeping me busy.  I am in the midst of planning our mid-year meeting for the Board and Steering committee, assisting the Jacksonville committee for the HAPS 2014 planning, and attending to a whole bunch of items that I was blissfully unaware of when I was NOT President.  So, in true idiotic fashion, I decided to put even MORE on my plate – ‘let’s also ‘flip’ my undergraduate classroom of 425 students this fall!”

(I never said I was smart.)

a215learning exercisespage
A Portion of my Anatomy A215 website

Why would I attempt to do this, when i have a bunch of other items on my plate?  for starters, see the above sentence.  🙂  But more seriously, there is a growing body of research that indicates flipping the classroom improves student learning and outcomes.  There are always a small group of students that struggle with the material – and if this is a way to reach those students, then why NOT try this?  Also, I HATE a pure lecture environment where I am droning on and the students are struggling to stay awake.  As much as I would like to think I am the most fascinating person they have heard, let’s face it – there is not a lot of engagement going on this way.

In the past, I had created some interactive learning activities that we would do in the classroom (you can check them out and steal them for yourself here – click on the exam links to get to the various exercises).  These are modifications of Classroom Assessment Techniques (or CATs, as penned by Angelo and Cross) and I would do these in the class at various times for students to test their learning.  I love to use these, but I noticed that in a traditional lecture format, I always seemed to run out of time before I could do as many of these as I wanted to.  So – this semester began the flipping of the classroom.

Now unlike Wendy and Elaine (who are true transforming agents), I am taking ‘baby steps’ in this flipping approach.  For each major lecture topic, I create a 10 minute podcast that students have to watch prior to class.  (I create those in a program called Camtasia, which is SUPER easy to use and is not that expensive).  I also encourage students to use the McGraw-Hill LearnSmart learning activities prior to coming to class (full disclosure:  I am a McGraw-Hill author.  Please note that other publishers have other wonderful accessory learning activities you could have your students use).  In class, I now have extra time to do some of the learning activities I’ve linked to above,  and/or I’ve planned other interactive activities in class to reinforce concepts (such as pulling up slides from the students’ virtual microscope and having them get into groups to discuss).

spinning_plates
How many of these plates can I keep from crashing down on my head?

Am I still ‘lecturing’?  Yes, and more so than a typical ‘flipped’ classroom would.  but remember – I am taking baby steps here.  I knew there was only so much I could do this fall with my other HAPS responsibilities and not have all of the spinning plates come crashing down upon me.  I’ll keep you posted about my ‘baby steps’, while Wendy and Elaine discuss their true transformations!

5 thoughts on “From HAPS President to Flipped-Classroom-Apprentice: Why I also ‘drank the kool-aid’

    • Thanks Wendy! even with the baby steps I am still feeling a bit overwhelmed.
      and the by the way – the trick with the plates is to make sure they are paper. 😉 that way they don’t hurt when they fall on your head (spoken from experience) 😉

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