The overall technological progress has positive impact on educational technology as well, and this allows the 21st century educational system to have online videos instead of blackboards. Curriculum requirements increase and teachers have to use the limited class time more effectively. In a traditional classroom, verbal discussions are impermanent, and there is more sense of leadership from instructor (McConnell, 2000). The popular opinion that “being in a class in the presence of a teacher and ‘listening attentively’ is […] enough to ensure that learning will take place” is arguable (Scrivener, 2005, p.17). “Sharing one’s own ideas and responding to others’ reactions improves thinking and deepens understanding” (Chickering & Gamson, 1987, p.76). However, students often lack this opportunity as traditional learning is teacher-focused, which means classroom time is mostly spent on teachers’ active lecture delivery.
In order to solve this issue, I suggest the integration of software and hardware technology, and development of flipped classroom, as they foster student-centered approach. The flipped classroom is an emerging technology for higher education and essential practice at college level as it stimulates students’ active learning (Hamdan et al., 2013; Johnson et al., 2013). A flipped classroom is defined as a student-centered method as it allows the students to participate more, to be more active compared to the traditional approach focused on teachers (Hargreaves, 2004).
In this paper, I will compare and contrast traditional and modern approaches. I will discuss the essence and efficiency of a flipped classroom and the technology required for the successful development of modern educational environment. The paper also presents cultural and social sensitivities, historical and background impacts and constraints, as well as people, activities and associated economics for capacity building in order to implement and sustain my technology-oriented approach. The paper will discuss how I am going to evaluate the success of technology integration and flipped classrooms.
The flipped classroom, also known as “reverse classroom,” “hybrid learning,” and “inverted learning” is a teaching and learning method which focuses on watching video lectures outside the class and interactive knowledge exchange in the class. It is a form of blended learning that combines watching asynchronous video lectures and online collaboration through distance learning outside the class and face-to-face learning, group discussion, experiments and projects in the classroom (Lean, Moizer, & Newbery, 2014).
In a traditional classroom, there is little group contact between sessions and little time for reflection during meetings (McConnell, 2000). Participation is unequal. The students have low levels of motivation, and the subject matter is “distant” from them. Conversations are rarely shaped in classroom. Dynamics is obvious, but lost immediately after the meeting. Listening without participation may be judged, which often causes high levels of anxiety. The latter is also present at the beginning of meetings as there are always certain expectations about participation. Discussions are often more general and not detail-oriented. There is no permanent record of feedback. Group looks at one student’s work at a time (McConnell, 2000). Broughton and his colleagues (1994) define it as a “teacher-dominated interaction.”
In flipped classrooms and programs integrating technology, there is less sense of instructor control, less sense of anxiety, less hierarchies, more equal participation, an increased depth of analysis, high levels of reflection, very detailed and focused feedback on each individual’s piece of work, and a permanent record of feedback obtained by all (McConnell, 2000). Students reshape conversation on a basis of ongoing understandings and reflection. Students can see and read each other’s feedback, no one can “hide” and not give feedback (McConnell, 2000).
If the students learn to use technology tools to work independently and collaboratively, the classroom experience will be more effective and productive. This will allow students to “enter into a conversation about a subject at the level they are comfortable with, and by this very conversation they can gradually build their own knowledge about a subject by tying it into what they already understand” (Stebbins, 2012, p. 183). Researchers believe that students engage and distribute new hardware and software technologies more readily and rapidly than teachers do (Moyle & Owen, 2009). Enthusiasm for new and emerging technologies is continuous and consistent as innovative technologies provide learners with new teaching and learning opportunities (Chan et al. 2006). “There is substantial evidence that students learn in a variety of ways and that traditional teaching addresses only a small subset of the learning styles that are in a classroom” (Colace et al., 2014, p. 1).
To create a more student-centered environment, I would support the development of flipped classrooms and implement hardware and software technology, such as Web 2.0 technology, recording tools, webcam, laptop, tablet device, or mobile phones, video message board, microphones, large-screen monitors, whiteboards, and wireless devices (Baepler et al., 2014); YouTube video, Blackboard LMS, Google Docs, Dropbox, and Google Hangout (Kim et al., 2014); blog, online software (http://ed.ted.com), video sources adopted from: Khan Academy, MyITLab videos and software simulation (Davies et al., 2013); Maple Worksheets, mathlets, videos, clickers, and e-textbooks (McGivney-Burelle and Xue, 2013), etc.
Students have access to a number of free Internet learning resources, including online video lectures whenever and wherever they want (Richter and McPherson, 2012). Laptop, computer, and mobile phones and other technology tools can be used to access Internet for any educational content (Fu, 2013). The solution is to transform homework, lectures, exams, labs and other classic learning activities into the Web 2.0 technology enabling students to receive knowledge outside the classroom without any problem. Web 2.0 is a novel key driver that changes learning paradigms at academic institutions. Moreover, Web 2.0 challenges intellectual property and allows consumers to be active users, i.e. create and share knowledge (Thompson, 2007). The tools of Web 2.0 include social networks, podcasting, blogs, wiki’s, RSS feed, social bookmarking, etc., which stimulate folksonomy, peer-to-peer learning, creativity, communities of practice, user participation, non-formal education, collaboration, development of personal learning environments and a number of innovative teaching techniques (Alexander, 2006; Richardson, 2009). Web 2.0 technologies have the ability to “support active and social learning, provide opportunities and venues for student publication, provide opportunities to provide effective and efficient feedback to learners, and provide opportunities to scaffold learning in the student’s Zone of Proximal Development” (Hartshorne & Ajjan, 2009, p. 15).
Instructors, who support flipped classrooms and technology integration, implement clickers or voting pads that enable students to express opinions in lectures and show deeper understanding (Lancaster & Read, 2013). Instructors also encourage role-play, focusing on ‘small groups within the larger group’ and other transformational learning techniques to boost the success of lectures (Matheson, 2008). A flipped classroom boosts teacher’s role as a facilitator who listens to his or her students, inspires, motivates, encourages, guides, helps them share ideas, reviews and gives feedback on their performance.
We should view the integration of technology tools and development of flipped classrooms from cultural and social perspectives (Green, 1988). Some countries such as the UK, are pioneering in terms of the use of digital technologies in many areas of education, particularly, in the school sector. “In the North America and other developed countries (i.e. Western Europe, Asia, and Australia), elementary students and secondary students have the most opportunities for blended or online learning within their academic programs” (Barbour et al., 2011, p. 11). In today’s technological era, the traditional learning method that views the instructor as the primary and almost only source of knowledge is not perceived as adequate and efficient (Wang & Heffernan, 2010).
There are education specialists and researchers who do not support flipped classrooms and integration of technology tools and present the results of their own studies. A study conducted by Dynarski and colleagues (2007) found that even good hardware and educational software do not have a significant impact on learning. The study conducted by Cuban (2001) showed that the integration of computers in classrooms did not stimulate learning opportunities for American students. However, the successful integration of technology in education and development of flipped classrooms does not depend on mere abundance of technology tools, but the way instructors adopt them in their teaching practice. “… to use information and information technologies effectively to find, select and effectively use information to create knowledge and insight” (Tinkler, Lepani & Mitchell, 1995, 9 13).
When teachers decide to integrate technology themselves, they do it because they find it necessary and complementary, and thus the integration of technology tools replaces some problem (Somekh, 2007). However, when technology is used for its own sake, it is done at the expense of important teaching and learning activities, which might have been more effective. Most constraints related to integration of technology in classrooms stem from the fact that many researchers, educators and teachers demonstrate skepticism and suspicion about it (Fulton, 2012). “Not all students have computers, not all are skilled users, and not all want to use technology” (Oblinger, 2008, p.18). The adequate use of technology and practice of flipped classroom must substitute less effective activities, and be rationally incorporated into curriculum to support students’ learning practice. Thus technology is best applied as a complementary tool to traditional teaching instead of being a replacement for it (Luckin, 2008).
Although many academic institutions support the idea of flipped classrooms, few integrate them into their academic practice or implement technology tools. The study conducted by Ajjan and Hartshorne (2007) evaluated faculty’s awareness of the positive impact of Web 2.0 on in-class learning and identify faculty’s decisions to apply technology tools. Study showed that regardless of faculty members’ belief in the efficiency of Web 2.0 technologies in learning, students’ improved writing abilities, and their satisfaction with the course, few instructors implemented technologies in classrooms.
Transformation of educational system through digital tools requires professional pedagogical repertoires very different from those popular in the past (Johansson, 2000). The transition to more digital form of learning and flipped classrooms is not a feasible process and many constraints exist. There is a certain dissonance between the development of technology and education system. While the former is rapidly progressing over the last 50 years, the pace of the latter is slow and prone to traditional principles. This results in an increasing tension between technological and pedagogical development (Steffens, 2008). According to Hurlburt (2008), “The very key to the success of a blog assignment structure, then, is fundamentally counterintuitive. In order to take advantage of the virtual social space that is spontaneously created in the natural blogosphere, course work must dictate the precise level of engagement of the participants, must make the class blogosphere entirely unnatural … not spontaneously social…” (p. 184).
Examining and defining the impact of laptops and smartphones is challenging (Dunleavy et al. 2007), when it comes to developing effective interaction and collaboration and addressing teachers’ concerns and other pedagogical issues effectively (Donovan et al. 2007; Liu & Kao, 2007). As technological development is a constant process, teachers and instructors must always update and refresh their knowledge about the emerging technology and its effective implementation in classrooms. Training and professional development for instructors and teachers is an essential element of developing an effective flipped classroom practice.
Researchers suggest a full day’s support or continuous professional inquiry-based methods which are not simply about technology use, but about successful pedagogical implementation of the technology tools to enhance educational goals. Doherty and Cooper (2009), for example, organize workshops to teach educators how to implement Web 2.0 applications and services effectively in their teaching at the University of Auckland. “… most (of) the time we teach the teachers about IT. Well, it depends on the teacher, we don’t teach the IT teachers” (Moyle, 2008, p. 220). Education specialists must develop personalized learning strategies to boost self-direction and self-reliance. Learning management systems such as Moodle and Blackboard, are perceived as effective tools that help teachers, instructors, and students increase the capacity to personalize students’ learning opportunities. They also help students gain control of the pace of their learning.
The correlation between economics and education is not new (Wyn, 2009). Although cost analysis related to technology integration and flipped classrooms are not rocket science, reflecting figures will involve many economists and educators, and we will end up with several hundred pages of economic analysis. The cost of teaching that integrates respective technology is a complex question and includes fixed and variable costs. Unlike fixed costs, variable costs change based on student numbers. The design and creation of flipped classrooms and courses that integrate technology require much financial investment, but once they are developed, students do not have to spend much money to use them.
In February 2010, the Australian Government used USD 31.7 million to implement its Digital Strategy for Teachers and School Leaders with a target rollout beginning in 2011 (Digital Education Revolution Strategy for Teachers website). “It appears that investment in IT in universities is a highly politicized process often based at least partly on an act of faith that IT will help to deliver on the quality and productivity agenda…. Such investment processes and imperatives are not necessarily amenable to rationalistic cost-benefit investment models and techniques” (Holt and Thompson, 1998).
To evaluate the efficiency of flipped classrooms and technology integration, I would review already existing programs, as well as research and analyze the quality of performance among students who practice this method. A variety of performance and achievement tests exist that help to evaluate students’ performance on various areas and subjects. Education specialists have applied the flipped classroom model to investigate students’ achievement in learning various subjects and found that the flipped classroom approach boosts students’ learning achievements. Based on the outcome of studies, the examination scores in flipped classrooms are as high as in traditional cases (Galway et al., 2014). The goal of the studies conducted by Davies et al. (2013) and Enfield (2013) was to examine how technological tools might be implemented to improve students’ achievement in the flipped classroom. Based on the results, integration of technology fosters learning efficiency and help students improve post-test scores compared to their pre-test scores in a flipped classroom. The study conducted by Beapler, Walker and Driessen (2014) indicted that students’ performance in a flipped classroom was higher compared to the scores reported by students practicing conventional methods.
The integration of technology and development of flipped classrooms stimulate professional relationships based on the principles of collaboration, coaching, mentoring and sharing ideas (Halili, Razak, and Zainuddin, 2014). The latter is of the utmost importance as students are to be taken seriously as individuals, and to be inspired and challenged by exchanging ideas (Moyle & Owen, 2009). Students receive personalized feedback of their progress. The students talk at least as much as or more than the instructor. Students learn “how” and less “what.” Flipped classroom focuses on a research study which teaches to search for and collect information from limitless sources. The learning gives the opportunity to interact with the real world. The subject matter is more abundant and contains material in a variety of formats.
If educators, teachers and instructors embrace innovation and understand their benefits, drawbacks, similarities and differences, the transition from traditional classrooms to flipped classrooms with integration of technology tools will be significantly more feasible (Adam and Logan, 2003).
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