Fully Embracing the Flipped Classroom

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Dr. Robert Talbert, author and Professor at Grand Valley State University, joined the podcast to discuss why now is the perfect time for higher ed to embrace the flipped classroom.

But it's time to come to gripswith the fact that that's not only a feature, it's the whole purpose ofbeing in college at all, is to be able to teach yourself things whenit's done. You're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the bestprofessional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college oruniversity. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools andresources, you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Welcomeback to enrollment growth university, a proud member of the connect Du podcastnetwork. I'm Eric Olson with Helix Education, and we're here today with Dr RobertTalbot, Professor at Grand Valley State University and author of the book flippedlearning, a guide for Higher Education Faculty. Robert, welcome to the show.Hi Eric, thanks for her I having me on today. So excitedto have you and to talk with you about why now is the perfect timefor higher read to embrace the flipped classroom more fully. Before we dig intothat, can you give the listeners a little bit of background on both GrandValley State University and your will? They're sure Grand Valley State University is atwenty six thousand student Public University and Michigan. We're in Allendale, Michigan, overon the west side of the state, in your grand rapids. We havea main campus in Allendale and a satellite campus in grand rapids, Michigan. We are a primarily teaching focus institution, although we do have of research programsgoing on and graduate programs, and so it's been a good incubator fora lot of innovation and teaching. And my role there is currently I ama professor in the mathematics department. I serve as the online and hybrid coursecoordinator for the math department. We're a fairly large department, with over fortyfaculty, two hundred majors, three thousand students and at a growing portfolio ofonline and hybrid courses. I mean all of them are online and hybrid nowbecause of the pandemic, but we're going to stick with some of that movingforward. So it's a quite a bit of a job and I serve invarious other capacities to and faculty senate and that sort of thing, like alot of faculty members do. Well, your great person to present this conceptand give us some some re excitement for those of us who might have havegotten excited about the flip model five years ago, but helps understand why ithasn't caught on yet and why now might be the right time. So,Robert, why do you believe the now, specifically as we're rolling out of theend of the pandemic as we know it at least, is the besttime for hire it to move further toward a flipped classroom model? Well,Eric, I think you look at what we learned through the pandemic. Ithink back to March of last year when the pandemic really rolled over us andwe shut down our campus like a lot of like everybody else did, andI was department share at the time, and I noticed, as we allkind of just sort of went forward into the dark, into this great unknown, that the faculty in our department who had been practicing flip learning on somedegree or another. Some people are like...

...me and their way off on oneend of the spectrum and some people are not doing it at all, someare kind of in the middle. About twelve maybe faculty or what identify asusing flip learning out of about forty those folks. I mean everybody had adifficult time transitioning in this emergency remote pivot that we did. It was noteasy for anybody, but I will say that the people who did flip learningprior to the pandemic had a much easier time adjusting to a remote, anemergency, remote situation then those who have been using traditional models of teaching.Those who are using traditional models. Although I'm Phil I'm in a department it'sabsolutely filled with outstanding, world class teachers, they still really struggled. I meanthey felt like they were having to start all over again in their careers. I heard that comment more than once and I started wondering, like,what is it about the flip learning model that seems to be giving some peoplean easier time than others? And it was around about this time too,I started getting a lot of inquiries from outside the campus asking me to givetalks and webinars and so forth on flip learning, and I was thinking,why are you asking me about flip learning? which would you be asking about?Online learning, hybrid learning, technology, enhanced instruction and that kind of thing. It's relevant, but the more I dug into that, the moreit seemed to me that flip learning was like a very good match for theshift that we encountered a number of basic assumptions about the way that we dohigher education in general. We're just completely blown up by the pandemic in thein the traditional frame of mind, when you look at how classes are traditionallyset up, we assume scarcity of information, we assume that technology is something tobe left outside the classroom, we assume that students come to their learningwith no knowledge whatsoever and we assume that students don't have the capacity to teachthemselves things or to regulate themselves. And this is all four of these assumptionsdrive what the traditional model holds for us, and that is students arrived in classwith nothing in their brains and they get their first contact with new ideasthrough lecturing and then, in a single class, you know, the lecturegoes and it stops and then we're sort of push them out onto their ownto finish the job, to do the hard part. And that model didnot farewell in the pandemic, because students needed a lot of help. Theywere we were all forced to use a tremendous amount of technology. We hadto come to grips with the idea that students could pick up any information theywanted anywhere. I mean we all kind of ran straight into the to theonline answer sort of the cheg stack overflow idea that if I put a ifI give students a time test to do, there's a pretty good chance they're goingto find all the answers on check within hours. And so all theseassumptions, like even just the fact that we can colocate with students on wheneverwe want to, all one completely out the window. But on the otherend, if you look at the assumptions that the flip learning model makes,they're exactly the opposite of those that we...

...basically assume and flip learning that informationis abundant, it's everywhere, it's easily accessed. We keep a flexible environmentand the flip learning model and so we use technology as a tool for learning. We assume that students have some sort of idea about what they're learning and, most importantly, we assume in flip learning that students are capable of teachingthemselves things, basic things, not necessarily the entire subject. But if Igive students a list of basic things to get done, that involved teaching themselvesthings by watching a youtube video or reading a book, that we assume theycan get it done and they can come to class and do higher level tasks. These assumptions match up almost exactly with what the pandemic forced on us.We had students we were not able to meet. For the vast majority ofcases, we were not able to meet students in a room at the sametime all the time for all online we had all this technology and the studentshave the capability of getting information about anything and they had to teach themselves alot of things. I mean it was just a fact of life. Andso instructors who have been using flip learning had already had the foundations for everything. They needed, all the tools, all the course structures, all thecourse designs to really do well. Eventually, with the remote and online model ofinstruction, professor through as you have who were still in the traditional frameof mind had to completely start over and it was demoralizing and it was hardand it was exhausting, and so that's why I'm thinking like now is likea perfect time to really take seriously the flip and learning model. It's beentaken seriously for for many years I mean it's been around as an organized conceptfor almost two decades, with hundreds and hundreds of peer reviewed articles, researcharticles supporting its effectiveness. It hasn't really gone anywhere. It's not a fatit hasn't even faded into the background. If anything, it's become so normalthat we don't even think about it anymore, like the air conditioning in our house, and only we only notice that if it's busted. This is ateaching model, a course design model, that has been gaining consistently in acceptanceover the last twenty years, and now it appears like it's pointing in exactlythe direction that hire it's taking. Post pandemic, post pandemic. We're notgoing to be able to assume things like we can keep a lid on informationand technology or that we're even able to be in the same room with studentsat the same time. We have students in a situation now where their needto be able to teach themselves things. We understand more than ever the importanceof self regulation self teaching, and so what we really need right now tohelp students advance in the world that we're in, which is still complex andgetting harder to comprehend every day as a model that teaches them how to belearners and doesn't just feed them information and ask them to give it back tous. And I'm to flip learning provides for us. I love the reminderof the promise of flip learning. Robert, does the flipped classroom model over estimatenot our students capability but their self...

...motivation to do the work ahead oftime? I think that it accurately estimates students ability to do work ahead oftime. Now, selfmotivation is a tricky sort of thing. It places ahigh standard on students. I will say that it expects a lot out ofstudents. It expects that students will take a small list of basic sort ofinformation transfer oriented learning objectives, like be able to state the definition of aconcept or list examples of a concept having gone and watch a video about itor read a book about it, give some examples of the thing that you'relearning. That's the kind of level we're asking students to do. So Idon't think it over estimates students ability to do those kinds of things. Now, in terms of motivation, what a welldesigned flip learning classroom does is providea structure for students to build their self motivation. Okay, so we don'tnecessarily assume that students are experts, but we also don't a assume that theycome with nothing in terms of motivation either. It's on us as instructors to createan environment where students are going to want to do the things we askthem to do, and so, a law, students struggle with this becausethey have never necessarily been asked to teach themselves things like that's has been seenas a bug rather than a feature of their classes in the past, likeyou see it on course evaluation. Students were really, really complain if theyhave to teach themselves things, but it's time to come to grips with thefact that that's not only a feature, it's the whole purpose of being incollege at all is to be able to teach yourself things when it's done.Otherwise, how can you be a viable member of society if you can't teachyourself things? So it places a high bar on students. It asks themto do things that are uncomfortable and unfamiliar, like teaching yourself the basics of differentialequations, you know by watching a youtube video, but it also supportsthat learning through the kind of structured activities we write for them and then bysetting them up for success during the in class portion of a flip classroom toso I like that man that you just gave about the ability to self teach. So if a student's ability to self teach is a requirement for success withinthe flipped classroom model, how do we make sure that we teach self teachingor the students come to our institutions prepared to do so, and that ourstudents are truly ready and in power to succeed in this model that is likelyfairly new for them? Well, Eric, you hit it right on the headby its suggesting that we have to teach it and we can't just assumethat students pick it up biosmosis, which has been the mode of traditional teachingmethods forever, since ten and eighty a since the first university. We justassume that the quote unquote, smart students will figure it out and we leaveeverybody else behind and there's sort of an illusion of success in this method becauseit's survive or bias only that. You know, the the top one percentseem to be able to manage it and they're the ones driving the narrative.So if you're really are serious about all students, about equity, about allstudents being able to learn in those we have to teach it. And howdo we make sure we're doing it well?...

The same way we make sure thatwe're teaching anything. Like if I'm going to teach my discrete math studentsabout, you know, the binomial coefficient, for example, will keep the mathto a minimum here. But if I want to teach them about thebinomial coefficient, I have to do certain things. I have to first ofall set up queer objectives that communicate to them what I expect of them,and then I have to give them opportunities to practice those things and then Ihave to have some way of giving them feedback and allow them to improve onthose things. Okay, whether that's calculating a binomial coefficient or learning how toteach yourself something from a youtube video, it's exactly the same thing. It'sjust another topic to teach. In some sense, I would need to layout exactly what's expected of students. I would need to give them practice withdoing it, which is what the flip learning model does on an everyday basis, because students are constantly however many times you meet during the week, that'show many times per week students get the opportunity to flux those muscles. Andthen if they're falling short on those expectations, I give them feedback and I coachthem up, I coach them to improve, and so you just approachit from that standpoint and it's it's a Meta skill that we need to allof us, flip learning or otherwise, because I need to start wrapping andin helping all of our traditional are all our usual coursework around this idea.We've got to teach this stuff or students are not going to pick it upon Bios Mostis until like twenty years from now. We don't want that.I love this concept of survivorship bias here, because you're right, you're so excitedabout and get rely re excited about it, and then I recall facultyfriends who try this five years ago and they bailed because they didn't think theirstudents could do it. So it almost seems like the crux here is thiswould be most efficient if our students were highly motivated. Versus. Let's acceptthe reality that some art what model actually works. Is that the correct cruxthere? And, if so, when we think about survivorship bias here,is this model going to work much, much better with institutions that are moreselective, that have higher academic standards than others? Well, let me answerthe first question. First, about efficiency. We're going to talk about efficiency.That involves measuring something. So I would ask, when you talk aboutefficiency, what are we measuring here? Now, traditional learning models that areprimarily instructor centered and lecture based are really, really efficient, if all we're measuringis a pie chart of how much material we're covering in class. Okay, are way more efficient than flip learning, because in flip learning it's kind ofslow and you have to think about what am I going to cut outof my soulabus in order to have all this time, for all this toactive learning? My students are going to do? Yeah, I mean soit's way less efficient than lecturing, but it when you start measuring not contentcoverage but actual student comprehension of concepts, like did students actually learn anything ordo we we just covering content, then...

...the veneer begins to come off prettyquickly. Off of traditional lecture based models, because what you find out is thatstudents can and studies have been done on this, and students will leavea lecture feeling like they understand everything, but when you actually quizm on it, it's nothing. There's nothing there. or You will ask them, didyou learn more in a flipped environment or an active learning environment than in alecture based environment? And students who are in flipped environments will say no,I didn't learn as much, and students are are in active learning environments willsay or in lecture based environments will say, I learned way more. But thenif you give them a quiz, it's exactly the opposite. And therewas a great study on this done not too long ago and proceedings in NationalAcademy of Sciences, I believe it was. The lecture based Model Looks Great,it looks efficient, until you start caring about students. Okay, Imean let's be real here. I mean we start thinking about whether students actuallylearned anything, then the shoe begins to move to the other foot and thelecture stuff just doesn't look quite as good. An efficiency may not be like thebest metric to use if we're talking about the needs of students today.So I would just say, if everything about efficiency, think about what you'remeasuring and is that the right thing? And I hear this a lot likewell, I'm just going to be able to cover as much material if Idon't lecture's like, well, that's probably true, but your students will probablyremember and master more of it if you just cover less of it. Interesting. Now, as to like institutions with higher academic standards, I'm not higherselectivity and higher academic standards I'm not completely convinced are the same thing. Firstof all, I don't even know what higher academic standard is necessarily means,unless we're talking about sat scores or something like that. Yeah, I guessthat's what I was implying. Yeah, so I would just say that I'veseen flip learning work with great success everywhere, whether it's in I've done some workwith Yale and Harvard and it works great their effects. One of theprimary models of flip learning, when the earliest models, peer instruction, whichwas invented by Eric Massour, came out of Harvard University and it's been wildlysuccessful there all the way to institutions like my own, public institutions that arenot top tier but have hard working students and they know how to put theirtheir backs into it and they learn a lot this way, all the wayto small liberal arts colleges, community colleges. I've worked with two your schools beforevocational education. It's just simply a way to get more active involvement intothe classroom. Really is kind of what it boils down to. And andthat sense all it takes is a willing students and that those folks are foundeverywhere, even where we don't think they are. Robert, such great stuff. Finally, any next steps? Advice prinstitutions listening to this going yeah,all right, fine, excited to try to figure out how to fully pushon the flipped classroom model at their institution. Worship. They start now. Thatsounds really excited, by the way. Well, I would say don't push. Okay, if if you're looking at this from the standpoint of anadministrator, pushing is the last thing you...

...want to do. What you wantto do is pull rather than push. Okay. So a lot of faculty, I have found, I've worked with faculty all over the world and theUnited States on flip learning and all kinds of different institutions and a lot ofthem are very interested. They might be a little skeptical and that's okay.A little reluctant and that's okay, but at some level they think that maybethere's something here that would be worthwhile, but they're a little scared to tryit for a number of reasons. For example, there may be scared oflosing face if it goes wrong. They're scared of that. That theoretical confrontation. What happens if I show up and down? The students have done thework. They are a little afraid that if things go south on them thatthey're going to lose out on tenure and promotion, for example, or they'regoing to spend so much time working on this they won't have time for grantsor whatever. So there's a there's a willingness there, but there's a lotof blockers, and so what the role of an administrator can can be,is to remove those barriers, to to create incentives that pull on faculties alreadyexisting interests and get things out of the way and provide some some support forfaculty. You're right, other than trying to push things on them. Pushingthings on the faculty usually ends really poorly. Faculty or Pretty Pretty Adamant about theirshared governance and do not want people telling them what to do. That'sthe fastest way to get a terrible implementation of flip learning in your institution isto make people do it. So instead what you want to do is maybeisolate those faculty are already interested. It might feel a blocker, get withthem and figure out what their impediment is and then remove it. And sookay, you know, look, we're going to exempt you from horse evaluationsfor a year, or we're going to give you an alternative. Will Giveyou five thousand dollars to try it or something like that, and see whatthey can do when incentivized. And then what will probably happen as a lotof success. And then the success breeds it's breeds even more success, itbreeds more interest. Then you have people who are might be coming out ofthe woodwork and saying, like, you know, I've always wanted to givethat a shot, but I didn't want to because I didn't know if anybodyelse was doing it. And now we have a whole lot of other peoplewho are doing it as well. So the best thing the institutions can dois just enable. You're already talented, already committed, already dedicated faculty members, and give them the tools they need, the resources they need to step outand try this and just give them a break, give them, givethem some support, have their backs. Robert, thanks so much for yourtime and your thoughts today. What's the best place for listeners to connect withyou? They have any follow up questions? Sure? Well, I have awebsite where I blog twice a week. It's at our Talbert Dot Org,and so it's comments section on that and they can certainly read what Ihave to write about a hodgepodge of things, all connected to not always about fliplearning, but research and productivity and all kinds of things that might beof interest, and I love to see people take advantage of that. Theycan email me. My email is Talbert are at Gvsu Dot Edu and I'malso on link done. You just have to let me up. I can'tremember the your roll of my profile and...

I love to connect with anybody who'sinterested in talking more about this awesome Robert, thanks so much for joining us today. Thank you for attracting today's new post traditional learners. Means adopting newenrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth isuniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, and Helix hasjust published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand newcontent on how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges. Download ittoday for free at Helix Educationcom. Playbook. You've been listening to enrollment growth universityfrom Helix Education. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribeto the shown itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much forlistening. Until next time.

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