New technologies can be very intimidating, especially for those for consider themselves technologically illiterate. There are some people who, when offered an opportunity to use technology, become so anxious and/or despondent that they close their mind to the thought that they may actually enjoy and be good at using the new tool. One student in particular comes to mind when I think of anti-technology minded individuals.
In August 2012 I started teaching at a new school during that prided itself on being technologically advanced compared to other schools. I wanted to do something more advanced with my classes too, and really help them understand the material. I had recently researched the theory of a “flipped classroom” in which lessons are taught or introduced while the student was at home via PowerPoints presentations, YouTube videos or other interactive websites, and the next class period would be dedicated to going over any questions they had and doing practice, or the traditional “homework”. During the first day of school, I explained the theory to each of my classes and told them that there would be a “trial period” to see how they each adapted to the flipped style. Most students were very excited at the new possibility, but there were a few who seemed quite hesitant about it. There was one student who hated using the computer so much that she went home, told her mom that I told them they would have to learn the material on their own from the internet, and wanted out of my class. The next morning I got a phone call from the mother, chastising me (there were several choice words and name-calling used) for my choice in instructional methods and requiring students to use the internet for learning. I was heart-broken, not that I was yelled at, though that was quite unpleasant, but that this student had such low confidence in her ability to use technology that the idea of having to use the computer on a daily basis made her want to switch classes.
Had I had the chance to reintroduce the concept of a flipped classroom to this student, I would have tried to follow Keller’s ARCS model as described by Driscoll (2005). The ARCS model suggests that in order to motivate a learner to try or learn something new, the educators must (a) get the learners attention, (b) show the learner how the material is relevant to him or her, (c) help the learner gain confidence in their ability to successfully complete a learning task, and (d) generate satisfaction in learning. A re-introduction to the flipped classroom would look like something like this… A YouTube video would be shown that introduces the idea of a flipped classroom, and another that quickly walks students through the easy steps of how to access each class’s assigned viewings. I would be sure to make it very clear to students that I would not be sending them to random websites, but to sites and videos that have been well thought out and explain the material better than I could. Most of the videos they would be watching would be me explaining the material, and usually wouldn’t be more than about 10-15 minutes in length. During class time, I would spend about 20-30 minutes quick reviewing the material and answering questions, and the last hour would be spent doing the practice (worksheets, experiments, or other learning activities) that would normally take them several hours to complete at home. As for building confidence and generating satisfaction, that can only come after the students have had some practice with the new learning method. I am confident however, that once students get used to the routine of a flipped classroom and using technology at home, they will come to love it!
Here are some websites that discuss the concept of a flipped classroom and the benefits it has for both teachers and students…
Driscoll, M. (2005). Psychology of Learning for Instruction (3rd ed). Boston, MA: Pearson Education Inc.