Goodbye Mars: FlipCon14 reviewed

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Photo: CC BY-NC celTatis

 

Have you ever heard of a microburst? Me neither, yet it seems that my trips to the US happen to coincide with freak meteorological conditions. Last year, Claire and I were the closest we’ve ever been to a tornado; this year it was a microburst. A what? Wikipedia to the rescue: “A microburst is a very localized column of sinking air caused by a small and intense downdraft within a thunderstorm”.  Mad. Crazy. Un-be-lie-va-ble. Result: a sizeable chunk of dearest Route 228, without which I would never have made it to Mars, was closed off and my arrival in Pittsburgh was delayed by whatever time it took the shuttle van to bypass the microbursty mess. Forever. Twice.

And so it was that FlipCon14 came and went. This is how I saw it.

While the US soccer team mourned what would have been a mighty win over Portugal, Molly Schroeder kicked off inviting us all to live in beta: try things out, if they don’t work, bury them in your educational graveyard (like Google’s graveyard) and move on. The only expectation of living in beta is that you learn something.

An hour later I was happy to join World Languages teachers claiming their rights in a flipped world dominated by Science and Math. Flip Spanish. Flip English. Flip Mandarin. Flip grammar. Flip culture. Make it real. My kind of conversation.

Katherine McKnight’s talk had the gravitas of the research-savvy: effective videos need to be guided by theory of learning, and thus there are personalization principles, segmenting and pre-training principles, cognitive overload and so forth that translate into practical advice for teachers: show your face in your videos, provide information about key concepts before lessons, break recordings into manageable bites, include a continue button –students don’t know when to pause, apparently. All common sense, if you ask me. And what about length? Research says that anything longer than six minutes becomes a feat of endurance for college students –I chuckled, not Game of Thrones.

Irma Brasseur-Hock’s presentation was a disappointment. I was expecting to hear more about the results of the survey and focus groups that the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning conducted last year, but instead she rushed through her demographics (which incidentally match what everybody knows now, that most teachers flip in Science, in high school, have little experience in flipping but a lot in teaching) and hardly commented on the research questions: what are the biggest challenges that flipped educators face, how do they make and/or choose videos, has the flip changed what they do in class, what recommendation do they have for other teachers? Zilch. Is the data available anywhere? No, you have to wait for the publication; if it ever comes, I think to myself. Sigh. Instead she was keen on showcasing an online module they are launching in the fall, a how-to guide for flipped educators that focuses on teaching students with learning differences –and by that she meant not only under-achievers but also talented kids. Their idea is to take the research and create a teacher-friendly product; why are they so keen on sharing the (free) product but not the research?

On Wednesday, Taylor Pettis didn’t go deeper into the information that has already been shared in this infographic, when he talked about the growth of  flipped learning in the last two years. A bit of discussion followed, but since all present very much fitted the Sophia profile, there was little new to take away.

And then back to the plenary. If you haven’t heard it before, yes, Jon and Aaron’s talk is inspiring, it’s public speaking at its best, but FlipCon14 was the fourth time I heard them speak since January 2013 and to be honest, if you can’t come up with something new in a year and a half, then Houston, we have a problem. Yes, teachers took the floor to tell us wonderful stories about how the flip has changed the lives of kids, one kid per teacher, three, four, five truly wonderful stories but to me it’s time to renew the discourse. You need the research, guys, policy makers want crunch numbers; the individual stories are good anecdotal evidence but, heart-warming as they are the first time you hear them, it’s one kid amongst millions.

Which is why it was disheartening to see that immediately after, the research round table was poorly attended, and the only concrete idea that emerged was that the scope is there to create a peer-reviewed journal of flipped learning.

After that I decided that the research strand was exhausted for me, or rather that I was exhausted by the research strand so I moved for a bit of action to Kate Baker and Troy Cockrum’s session on flipping canonical texts. Yes, you can flip without videos, fantastic! Here was yet another open invitation to share resources and support each other. Why do I have to read this, Mrs. B? Because it relates to your life, dude. Reading the Declaration of Independence as a break-up letter shows the brilliance of these teachers to make English palatable to students who don’t judge a book by its cover but by its thickness. Tip: disguise it as a digital book, they’ll never know how long it is.

And then it was time to say goodbye, to deliver flowers, thanks, prizes and 5-5-5 resolutions: what are you going to do in the next five days, five weeks and five months? asks Jon Bergmann. Write this blog. Think. Read. Think again. And write more, I hope.

Finally, my biggest hug to Kari Arfstrom who steps down from her position as Executive Director of the Flipped Learning Network after two and a half years of tireless work, amazing energy and elegance. I’m delighted that she is moving to better things, but I fear that the open movement loses her strongest ally in the ranks of the flipped.

FlipCon15 in Michigan in July. ¿Qué será, será…?

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Evening OERthlings, greetings from Mars!

I’m in Mars, Pennsylvania Route 228, population 1,699. Most notable Martian? A certain Gino Crognale, of renown in the make-up world for his artistry in The Walking DeadFlipCon14, the 7th Annual Flipped Learning Conference, is about to start and it’s not zombies descending on these 0.5 square miles of Butler County, but hordes of teachers with one thing on their minds: the flip!

This year conference organisers have divided presentations into different strands, so it’ll be difficult to come away not having found what you travelled here for, whether you are an experienced flipped educator, new to flipped learning, a sponsor showcasing your products or, like me, a humble researcher in the land of the free.  Apart from plenaries and plenty of opportunities for networking, there are in total six slots of concurrent sessions where on site attendees will have to choose from up to twelve different talks each. My interest will stay with the research strand during the two days, so here’s what I’m looking forward to:

Katherine McKnight, Principal Director of Research for the Center for Educator Learning and Effectiveness at Pearson, and Jessica Yarbro, George Mason University will review research on teaching and learning with video.

Irma Brasseur-Hock and Meghan Arthur, University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning, will share the research findings of a project involving a survey of 142 members of the Flipped Learning Network and focus groups interviews. What was exactly their research question? I’m eager to find out.

Kari Arfstrom and Taylor Pettis will compare the results from the most recent survey of flipped educators to that of two years ago in terms of the who, what, why, where and when of flipped learning.

Chris Luker, Chemistry Teacher from Highland Local Schools, will chair a round-table discussion with the aim of “collaboratively organizing research ideas that will continue to support the flipped learning model”. Ah, the need for research! Can’t beat it.

And Lucy Kulbago, John Carroll University, will examine student attitudes toward science and conceptual gains in a flipped undergraduate introductory physics course for life science majors.

There is plenty to tempt me away from this my initial choice, but I shall hope to stick to my guns and feed back in a couple of days.

Now where are those zomb… I mean flipped educators?

Photo: Pennsylvania Route 228 CC BY B. de los Arcos

 

Creative Commons Licenses for Flipped Educators

Last September, when Kari Arfstrom visited Milton Keynes as an OERRHub fellow, we talked about creating an infographic for flipped educators that would explain in a simple and engaging manner how to use Creative Commons Licenses.  Last January, when Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams visited Milton Keynes en route to speaking at BETT13, we talked about creating an infographic for flipped educators that would explain in a simple and engaging manner how to use Creative Commons licenses.

Well, let me introduce you to Mr. O’Pen. (About time, I hear you say!)

CCforFLN

Creative Commons Licenses for Flipped Educators has been created with input from the OERRHub team, designed by Celia de los Arcos, blessed by Kari Arfstrom (Flipped Learning Network) and rubber-stamped by Creative Commons‘ Billy Meinke, Jane Park and Cable Green. And you thought this was just another infographic?!

You can download it from here.

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OCWC Global 2014

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CC BY-NC celTatis

I love this photo. The fourth dragon that guards Zmajski Most, one of the bridges over Ljubljanica river in Ljubljana, Slovenia. I was there in April to present at OCWC Global 2014; I took it on a quick rambling out, while I searched for a scarf to cover an accidental spillage of marmalade over the one and only item of formal attire that I had packed, which would spare me the embarrassment of collecting an award wearing a sticky, albeit elegant black jacket. OCWC Global 2014 certainly knocked OpenEd 13 off the top spot in my list of great-to-have-been-here conferences. There was a lot of work, some happy chats and more serious conversations, glorious food to partake and the odd Laško, always in very good company. Below are the slides for my talk Flipping with OER: K12 teachers’ views of the impact of open practices on students, and also the recording; you can read the proceedings here, and if you are curious about what else happened to the OER Research Hub team, I’m happy to refer you to A is for April, the post I wrote in the project’s blog.


Flipping with OER: K12 teachers’ views of the impact of open practices on students

 

I flip, you flip, she flips…

I’m off to Belfast tomorrow for a Staff Development Languages Day at The Open University’s elegant headquarters on Victoria Street. I usually enjoy these gatherings very much; there are few of us languages tutors in Ireland compared to the other regions and nations, and Saturday will be a much welcomed chance to catch up face-to-face –some of us have been tutoring with the OU for 15 years already! It’ll be an action-packed day: Jing, wikis and HEA membership apart from the usual updates on the nitty-gritty of life as an AL. My slot will be about OER and flipped learning; one thought often occupies my mind these days and it is how the flipped class can be better if teachers flip with OER, so that’s the question I’ll be putting to my colleagues, ‘what does OER use bring to the flipped (language) classroom?’ I was asked to send a handout to be photocopied and handed out (obviously!), but I think sharing here is better –it saves a couple of trees from the chop to counterbalance my embarrassingly high CO2 imprint.

See my slides below: an overview of the OER Research Hub Project, the OER Impact Map and flipped learning as prelude to, I hope, an open discussion on the benefits (or not) of OER-ing.

Flipped Learning and OER: Survey Results

Yesterday the Flipped Learning Network (FLN) announced a formal definition of ‘flipped learning’, a timely reminder for me to share the results of the survey that the OERRHub Project conducted with flipped educators to find out about their use of open educational resources (OER). I blogged about our relationship with the FLN and how this research piece came to be at the launch of an infographic featuring some of these data; here comes a recap and more.

Sample

109 U.S. teachers practising flipped learning in their K12 classrooms completed the questionnaire. A majority (68.8%, n=75) have over ten years of teaching experience but have been using the flipped model for two or less than two years (91.7%, n=100). Subject-wise Science (37.3%, n=40) and Math (32.7%, n=35) top the poll, followed by Social Studies (20.6%, n=22) and World Languages (10.3%, n=11). More teachers are flipping their classrooms in the higher grades –67.8% (n=74) in K9-12 as opposed to 8.2% (n=9) in K2-5. Most teach in suburban schools (63.2% n=67), while rural and urban communities figure less often, 20.7% (n=22) and 16% (n=17) respectively. 61.5% (n=67) of respondents are based in districts where the percentage of students on free or reduced lunch is below 50%. This profile is consistent with that reported in June 2012 following a previous survey of 450 flipped educators, on which we based our demographic questions (see Improve student learning and teacher satisfaction in one Flip of the Classroom). In other details, we learn that a huge majority of these teachers have accessed the internet at home using a broadband connection (98.2%, n=107); they present their work at staff development events (74.8%, n=80) but are not in the habit of publishing their teaching presentations publicly online (11.2%, n=12).

To use or to adapt, is that the question?

Not really, the percentage of teachers who say they adapt resources to fit their needs in a flipped classroom (82.5%, n=90) is much higher that those who report using resources as they find them (17.4%, n=19). The pattern is repeated across grade levels (see chart below). Note that only 2 teachers in K2 answered the survey.

USEorADAPT

Types of resources

It does not come as a surprise that 95.3% of respondents select videos when asked to indicate the types of free online resources they use in the flipped classroom; after all, moving instruction outside the group learning space into the individual learning space, the essence of a flipped class, is most commonly done by means of recording videos and asking kids to watch them as homework. The percentage of teachers who report they use images is even higher (96.2%, n=102) but other online resources slip down the ranks: 56.6% (n=60) use interactive games, 51.9% (n=55) use tutorials and 46.2% (n=49) quizzes. What is interesting is that when compared with the types of resources flipped educators create, images drop to 33.3% (n=30) while videos keep their high position (83.3%, n=75).  This clearly suggests that teachers are following the advice from flipped class pioneer Jon Bergmann that making your own videos helps teachers establish a relationship with students. What I find puzzling is that in an age when it is so easy to snap and share, these teachers are mainly consumers and not producers of images.  Another interesting point was noted by Kari Arfstrom, Executive Director of the FLN, during her visit last September: the difference between teachers who create and use quizzes is slightly skewed towards production, 57.8% (n=52) against 46.2% (n=49), perhaps an indication that they prefer to set their own tests, as they have a better overview of how students have responded to the content taught.

Types Used vs Adapted

Creating OER?

43.3% (n=42) of teachers in our sample report that they create resources and share them publicly online; however, the number of teachers who say that they create resources and share them publicly online under a Creative Commons license drops significantly to 5.1% (n=5). In connection with this, 47.2% (n=46) say that they are familiar with the CC logo and its meaning, which still leaves an important proportion of respondents declaring that they either have not seen the CC logo, or they have seen it but do not know what it means. As for open licensing, 70.1% (n=68) consider it is important or very important when using resources in their teaching.

Repositories and sharing

The chart below shows the most common repositories accessed by flipped educators in our sample when looking for free online resources. YouTube, YouTubeEdu and YouTubeSchool (93.4%, n=99), together with TED talks (66.9%, n=71) and iTunesU (54.7%, n=58) unsurprisingly rank amongst the most popular. Slightly unexpected in my opinion is how little knowledge there is of major repositories of resources for the K12 sector –note, for instance, CK12 (16.9%, n=18) or Curriki (7.5%, n=8).

Repositories

What do teachers do when they access these repositories? The most common behaviour is downloading resources, 81.4% (n=70). Then 38.3% (n=33) say that they have uploaded a resource, 30.2% (n=26) that they have added comments regarding the quality of a resource, and 15.1% (n=13) that they have added comments suggesting ways of using a resource. The most popular way of sharing is via email (89.5%, n=94) and in person (67.6%, n=71).

Purposes of using OER

The chart below shows responses to the question For which of the following purposes have you used free online resources in the context of flipped learning?

Purposes

Challenges to using OER

When asked about the challenges that they most often face when using free online resources, 70.4% (n=69) of respondents in our sample indicate that they do not have enough time to look for suitable material;  for 65.3% (n=64) it is finding resources of sufficient high quality, and for 59.1% (n=58) finding suitable resources in their subject area. Equally interesting is what they consider the smallest challenges: not knowing how to use the resources in the classroom (7.1%, n=7); lacking institutional support for their use of free online resources (13.2%, n=13); and resources not being aligned with professional standards or regulation (14.2%, n=14). If anyone doubted the technical abilities of teachers, only 15.3%  (n=15) think that not being skilled enough to edit resources to suit their own context is a barrier to using OER. And a personal favourite of mine: a skimpy 29.5% (n=29) declare that not knowing whether they have permission to use or modify resources would actually stop them from using them. If we imply then that roughly 70% know when they are allowed to adapt a resource (which is consistent with the number of teachers who say they care about open licensing), how come the percentage of those aware of Creative Commons licenses is much smaller?

Impact on teaching practices

93.8% (n=91) of K12 teachers in our sample agree or strongly agree that as a result of using OER in the flipped class they use a broader range of teaching and learning methods –indeed I would argue that this is exactly what the flipped model facilitates: what is the best use of my classroom time? Not lecturing at students for forty minutes but opening up the space to different, more engaging and participative ways of learning. 89.7% (n=87) agree or strongly agree that they make use of a wider range of multimedia, and 88.6% (n=86) that they reflect more on the way that they teach. Where K12 teachers say their use of OER has had the least impact on their teaching practice can be listed as follows:

  • I make more use of culturally diverse resources (51.4%, n=49)
  • I have more up-to-date knowledge of my subject area (69%, n=67)
  • I more frequently compare my own teaching with others (70.1%, n=68)
  • I collaborate more with colleagues (70.1%, n=68)

Impact on students

91% (n=81) of teachers agree or strongly agree that their use of OER allows them to better accommodate the needs of diverse learners, a thought that resonates with the benefits of flipping the class: teachers have more one-to-one time with students, and students are often allowed to progress at their own pace.  It has been previously recorded (see for instance A Case Study: Flipped Learning Model Increases Student Engagement and Performance) that flipping the classroom makes for happier students; flipping with OER does not seem to deviate from this: 85.2% (n=75) of K12 teachers agree or strongly agree that their use of OER in the flipped class increases learners’ satisfaction with the learning experience. In third spot comes a statement that invites to think of teaching as forging personalities: 81.8% (n= 71) agree or strongly agree that their OER use helps develop learners’ increased independence and self-reliance. At the other end of the spectrum, only 42% (n=37) agree or strongly agree that using OER has any bearing on students at risk of withdrawing actually continuing with their studies; 52.8% (n=47) that it leads to learners becoming interested in a wider range of subjects than before; and 59.5% (n=53) that it increases their enthusiasm for future study.

Infografía: Recursos Educativos Abiertos en la clase al revés

Desde principios del 2013 he estado trabajando en el Proyecto OER Research Hub. Con financiación de la Fundación Hewlett en EEUU estamos investigando el impacto del uso de recursos educativos abiertos (Open Educational Resources, en inglés) en la enseñanza y el aprendizaje, partiendo de once hipótesis que debemos aceptar o rebatir. El proyecto abarca un amplio abanico dentro del sector educativo, desde la educación primaria y secundaria hasta la superior, e incluso el aprendizaje informal.

Una de nuestras colaboraciones es con la Asociación de Profesores de la Clase al Revés, traducción mía y muy libre de Flipped Learning Network, que aspira a ofrecer apoyo a cualquier docente que esté interesado en darle la vuelta a la clase. Si no estáis muy puestos en este arte, echadle un ojo a mi blog de hace unos meses. En septiembre tuvimos la suerte de contar con Kari Arfstrom, directora de la asociación, en Milton Keynes, residencia oficial de la Open University. Como parte del programa de investigación al que dedicó su tiempo mientras estuvo con nosotros, trabajamos juntas en el borrador de la infografía que aparece abajo. La infografía describe algunos de los resultados de una encuesta en línea a profesores de la clase al revés  en la que les preguntamos acerca de su uso de recursos educativos abiertos (REA). La encuesta estuvo abierta durante cinco semanas entre abril y mayo de este año, tiempo suficiente para recoger datos y presentarlos en el congreso FlipCon13 que tuvo lugar en Minnesota en junio. El número total de respuestas obtenidas fue de 285, pero una vez que filtramos a los profesores que no están practicando la clase al revés ahora, los que no son de primaria o secundaria (o K12 en el sistema educativo norteamericano), los que trabajan fuera de los EEUU y los que no usan recursos educativos abiertos, nos quedamos con una muestra de 109 profesores, realmente el grupo objeto de nuestro estudio.

La definición de recursos educativos abiertos (REA) que cito en la introducción al cuestionario está tomada de la página web sobre REA de la Fundación Hewlett: “REA son recursos para la enseñanza, el aprendizaje o la investigación que residen en el dominio público o han sido publicados con una licencia de propiedad intelectual que permite que otros los utilicen y reutilicen libremente”.

Mi intención es publicar los resultados completos de la encuesta antes de finales de año, probablemente en un estilo más académico, aunque me temo que una versión en español tardará un poco más en salir. Si estáis interesados en hablar sobre educación abierta en el contexto de la clase al revés, apuntaros al grupo OpenEducation dentro de la comunidad de profesores FLN (en inglés). Además, el 8 de enero habrá un webinario para charlar de estos temas en el que cualquier persona puede participar. Ojo, también en inglés. Más información aquí.

Y finalmente las gracias más gordas a todo aquel que tuvo la paciencia de responder al cuestionario; a Kari Arfstrom, entre otras muchas cosas por ayudarme a ver los resultados desde la perspectiva de los profes al revés; y a mi hermana, Celia de los Arcos, que en realidad fue quien  entendió a la perfección lo que necesitábamos, y diseñó y creó una infografía que ha quedado mucho más bonita de lo que podíamos imaginar.

La versión en inglés de este blog y la infografía aquí.