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 grips with the fact that that's not only a feature, it's the whole purpose of being in college at all, is to be able to teach yourself things when it's done. You're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university, a proud member of the connect Du podcast network. I'm Eric Olson with Helix Education, and we're here today with Dr Robert Talbot, Professor at Grand Valley State University and author of the book flipped learning, a guide for Higher Education Faculty. Robert, welcome to the show. Hi Eric, thanks for her I having me on today. So excited to have you and to talk with you about why now is the perfect time for higher read to embrace the flipped classroom more fully. Before we dig into that, can you give the listeners a little bit of background on both Grand Valley State University and your will? They're sure Grand Valley State University is a twenty six thousand student Public University and Michigan. We're in Allendale, Michigan, over on the west side of the state, in your grand rapids. We have a 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 programs going on and graduate programs, and so it's been a good incubator for a lot of innovation and teaching. And my role there is currently I am a professor in the mathematics department. I serve as the online and hybrid course coordinator for the math department. We're a fairly large department, with over forty faculty, two hundred majors, three thousand students and at a growing portfolio of online and hybrid courses. I mean all of them are online and hybrid now because of the pandemic, but we're going to stick with some of that moving forward. So it's a quite a bit of a job and I serve in various other capacities to and faculty senate and that sort of thing, like a lot of faculty members do. Well, your great person to present this concept and give us some some re excitement for those of us who might have have gotten excited about the flip model five years ago, but helps understand why it hasn'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 the end of the pandemic as we know it at least, is the best time for hire it to move further toward a flipped classroom model? Well, Eric, I think you look at what we learned through the pandemic. I think back to March of last year when the pandemic really rolled over us and we shut down our campus like a lot of like everybody else did, and I was department share at the time, and I noticed, as we all kind 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 some degree or another. Some people are like...

...me and their way off on one end of the spectrum and some people are not doing it at all, some are kind of in the middle. About twelve maybe faculty or what identify as using flip learning out of about forty those folks. I mean everybody had a difficult time transitioning in this emergency remote pivot that we did. It was not easy for anybody, but I will say that the people who did flip learning prior to the pandemic had a much easier time adjusting to a remote, an emergency, 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's absolutely filled with outstanding, world class teachers, they still really struggled. I mean they 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 people an 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 give talks 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 more it seemed to me that flip learning was like a very good match for the shift that we encountered a number of basic assumptions about the way that we do higher education in general. We're just completely blown up by the pandemic in the in the traditional frame of mind, when you look at how classes are traditionally set up, we assume scarcity of information, we assume that technology is something to be left outside the classroom, we assume that students come to their learning with no knowledge whatsoever and we assume that students don't have the capacity to teach themselves things or to regulate themselves. And this is all four of these assumptions drive what the traditional model holds for us, and that is students arrived in class with nothing in their brains and they get their first contact with new ideas through lecturing and then, in a single class, you know, the lecture goes and it stops and then we're sort of push them out onto their own to finish the job, to do the hard part. And that model did not farewell in the pandemic, because students needed a lot of help. They were we were all forced to use a tremendous amount of technology. We had to come to grips with the idea that students could pick up any information they wanted anywhere. I mean we all kind of ran straight into the to the online answer sort of the cheg stack overflow idea that if I put a if I give students a time test to do, there's a pretty good chance they're going to find all the answers on check within hours. And so all these assumptions, like even just the fact that we can colocate with students on whenever we want to, all one completely out the window. But on the other end, 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 information is abundant, it's everywhere, it's easily accessed. We keep a flexible environment and 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 teaching themselves things, basic things, not necessarily the entire subject. But if I give students a list of basic things to get done, that involved teaching themselves things by watching a youtube video or reading a book, that we assume they can 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 of cases, we were not able to meet students in a room at the same time all the time for all online we had all this technology and the students have the capability of getting information about anything and they had to teach themselves a lot of things. I mean it was just a fact of life. And so instructors who have been using flip learning had already had the foundations for everything. They needed, all the tools, all the course structures, all the course designs to really do well. Eventually, with the remote and online model of instruction, professor through as you have who were still in the traditional frame of mind had to completely start over and it was demoralizing and it was hard and it was exhausting, and so that's why I'm thinking like now is like a perfect time to really take seriously the flip and learning model. It's been taken seriously for for many years I mean it's been around as an organized concept for almost two decades, with hundreds and hundreds of peer reviewed articles, research articles supporting its effectiveness. It hasn't really gone anywhere. It's not a fat it hasn't even faded into the background. If anything, it's become so normal that 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 a teaching model, a course design model, that has been gaining consistently in acceptance over the last twenty years, and now it appears like it's pointing in exactly the direction that hire it's taking. Post pandemic, post pandemic. We're not going to be able to assume things like we can keep a lid on information and technology or that we're even able to be in the same room with students at the same time. We have students in a situation now where their need to be able to teach themselves things. We understand more than ever the importance of self regulation self teaching, and so what we really need right now to help students advance in the world that we're in, which is still complex and getting harder to comprehend every day as a model that teaches them how to be learners and doesn't just feed them information and ask them to give it back to us. And I'm to flip learning provides for us. I love the reminder of the promise of flip learning. Robert, does the flipped classroom model over estimate not our students capability but their self...

...motivation to do the work ahead of time? I think that it accurately estimates students ability to do work ahead of time. Now, selfmotivation is a tricky sort of thing. It places a high standard on students. I will say that it expects a lot out of students. It expects that students will take a small list of basic sort of information transfer oriented learning objectives, like be able to state the definition of a concept or list examples of a concept having gone and watch a video about it or read a book about it, give some examples of the thing that you're learning. That's the kind of level we're asking students to do. So I don'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 provide a structure for students to build their self motivation. Okay, so we don't necessarily assume that students are experts, but we also don't a assume that they come with nothing in terms of motivation either. It's on us as instructors to create an environment where students are going to want to do the things we ask them to do, and so, a law, students struggle with this because they have never necessarily been asked to teach themselves things like that's has been seen as a bug rather than a feature of their classes in the past, like you see it on course evaluation. Students were really, really complain if they have to teach themselves things, but it's time to come to grips with the fact that that's not only a feature, it's the whole purpose of being in college 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 teach yourself things? So it places a high bar on students. It asks them to do things that are uncomfortable and unfamiliar, like teaching yourself the basics of differential equations, you know by watching a youtube video, but it also supports that learning through the kind of structured activities we write for them and then by setting them up for success during the in class portion of a flip classroom to so 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 within the flipped classroom model, how do we make sure that we teach self teaching or the students come to our institutions prepared to do so, and that our students are truly ready and in power to succeed in this model that is likely fairly new for them? Well, Eric, you hit it right on the head by its suggesting that we have to teach it and we can't just assume that students pick it up biosmosis, which has been the mode of traditional teaching methods forever, since ten and eighty a since the first university. We just assume that the quote unquote, smart students will figure it out and we leave everybody else behind and there's sort of an illusion of success in this method because it's survive or bias only that. You know, the the top one percent seem 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 all students being able to learn in those we have to teach it. And how do we make sure we're doing it well?...

The same way we make sure that we're teaching anything. Like if I'm going to teach my discrete math students about, you know, the binomial coefficient, for example, will keep the math to a minimum here. But if I want to teach them about the binomial coefficient, I have to do certain things. I have to first of all 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 I have to have some way of giving them feedback and allow them to improve on those things. Okay, whether that's calculating a binomial coefficient or learning how to teach yourself something from a youtube video, it's exactly the same thing. It's just another topic to teach. In some sense, I would need to lay out exactly what's expected of students. I would need to give them practice with doing 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's how many times per week students get the opportunity to flux those muscles. And then if they're falling short on those expectations, I give them feedback and I coach them up, I coach them to improve, and so you just approach it from that standpoint and it's it's a Meta skill that we need to all of us, flip learning or otherwise, because I need to start wrapping and in 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 up on 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 excited about and get rely re excited about it, and then I recall faculty friends who try this five years ago and they bailed because they didn't think their students could do it. So it almost seems like the crux here is this would be most efficient if our students were highly motivated. Versus. Let's accept the reality that some art what model actually works. Is that the correct crux there? And, if so, when we think about survivorship bias here, is this model going to work much, much better with institutions that are more selective, that have higher academic standards than others? Well, let me answer the first question. First, about efficiency. We're going to talk about efficiency. That involves measuring something. So I would ask, when you talk about efficiency, what are we measuring here? Now, traditional learning models that are primarily instructor centered and lecture based are really, really efficient, if all we're measuring is 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 of slow and you have to think about what am I going to cut out of my soulabus in order to have all this time, for all this to active learning? My students are going to do? Yeah, I mean so it's way less efficient than lecturing, but it when you start measuring not content coverage but actual student comprehension of concepts, like did students actually learn anything or do we we just covering content, then...

...the veneer begins to come off pretty quickly. Off of traditional lecture based models, because what you find out is that students can and studies have been done on this, and students will leave a 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, did you learn more in a flipped environment or an active learning environment than in a lecture 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 will say or in lecture based environments will say, I learned way more. But then if you give them a quiz, it's exactly the opposite. And there was a great study on this done not too long ago and proceedings in National Academy of Sciences, I believe it was. The lecture based Model Looks Great, it looks efficient, until you start caring about students. Okay, I mean let's be real here. I mean we start thinking about whether students actually learned anything, then the shoe begins to move to the other foot and the lecture stuff just doesn't look quite as good. An efficiency may not be like the best 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're measuring and is that the right thing? And I hear this a lot like well, I'm just going to be able to cover as much material if I don't lecture's like, well, that's probably true, but your students will probably remember 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 higher selectivity and higher academic standards I'm not completely convinced are the same thing. First of 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 guess that's what I was implying. Yeah, so I would just say that I've seen flip learning work with great success everywhere, whether it's in I've done some work with Yale and Harvard and it works great their effects. One of the primary models of flip learning, when the earliest models, peer instruction, which was invented by Eric Massour, came out of Harvard University and it's been wildly successful there all the way to institutions like my own, public institutions that are not top tier but have hard working students and they know how to put their their backs into it and they learn a lot this way, all the way to small liberal arts colleges, community colleges. I've worked with two your schools before vocational education. It's just simply a way to get more active involvement into the classroom. Really is kind of what it boils down to. And and that sense all it takes is a willing students and that those folks are found everywhere, 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 push on the flipped classroom model at their institution. Worship. They start now. That sounds really excited, by the way. Well, I would say don't push. Okay, if if you're looking at this from the standpoint of an administrator, pushing is the last thing you...

...want to do. What you want to 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 the United States on flip learning and all kinds of different institutions and a lot of them 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 maybe there's something here that would be worthwhile, but they're a little scared to try it for a number of reasons. For example, there may be scared of losing 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 the work. They are a little afraid that if things go south on them that they're going to lose out on tenure and promotion, for example, or they're going to spend so much time working on this they won't have time for grants or whatever. So there's a there's a willingness there, but there's a lot of 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 already existing interests and get things out of the way and provide some some support for faculty. You're right, other than trying to push things on them. Pushing things on the faculty usually ends really poorly. Faculty or Pretty Pretty Adamant about their shared governance and do not want people telling them what to do. That's the fastest way to get a terrible implementation of flip learning in your institution is to make people do it. So instead what you want to do is maybe isolate those faculty are already interested. It might feel a blocker, get with them and figure out what their impediment is and then remove it. And so okay, you know, look, we're going to exempt you from horse evaluations for a year, or we're going to give you an alternative. Will Give you five thousand dollars to try it or something like that, and see what they can do when incentivized. And then what will probably happen as a lot of success. And then the success breeds it's breeds even more success, it breeds more interest. Then you have people who are might be coming out of the woodwork and saying, like, you know, I've always wanted to give that a shot, but I didn't want to because I didn't know if anybody else was doing it. And now we have a whole lot of other people who are doing it as well. So the best thing the institutions can do is 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 out and try this and just give them a break, give them, give them some support, have their backs. Robert, thanks so much for your time and your thoughts today. What's the best place for listeners to connect with you? They have any follow up questions? Sure? Well, I have a website 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 I have to write about a hodgepodge of things, all connected to not always about flip learning, but research and productivity and all kinds of things that might be of interest, and I love to see people take advantage of that. They can email me. My email is Talbert are at Gvsu Dot Edu and I'm also on link done. You just have to let me up. I can't remember the your roll of my profile and...

I love to connect with anybody who's interested 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 new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges. Download it today for free at Helix Educationcom. Playbook. You've been listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the shown itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

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