How Technology in Education is Flipping Things Around

by Shikha Das Shankar ~ Dec 13, 2018

Technology in TheFlippedClassroom

When I was first introduced to the concept of a class where “class work happens at home and homework in the class,” I flipped a little. How did we come to a point where the fundamental workings of a classroom is changing?

High-school teachers Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams invented the flipped classroom concept and credit the research report “Inverting the Classroom: A Gateway to Creating and Inclusive classroom,” for their successful attempt at implementing this unique concept. They defined a flipped classroom as a “mindset that directs attention away from the teachers and puts it squarely on the students and their learning.

In a flipped, or inverted classroom, the in-class time is “re-purposed” to focus more on inquiry, application and assessment of students. The traditional lecture-style of teaching is greatly reduced, and a methodology is adopted to personalize learning. The students learn at home aided by technology tools like lectures streaming on their computers, eBooks, and other digital and traditional course materials. 

What it’s all about

Students take control of the learning process and do so at their own pace. A typical flipped classroom requires students to watch a video on a topic in a virtual space like Google Classroom at home or other vodcast apps. While doing the lesson, they take quizzes to ensure understanding, have access to additional digital materials, and take notes and write down questions that they might have about the lesson to ask the teacher in the classroom the next day. Students continue to be at the center of learning in the classroom when they participate in group activities and collaborate with others in the group to come up with a solution.   

The teacher takes on the role of a coach and guide, who helps each student develop a unique learning strategy rather than imparting the same knowledge to all the students.  What results is a rich learning environment that helps students foster real-world thinking skills and problem-solving techniques. Some of the activities that teachers can have a group do together include: digital storytelling, making ebooks, podcasts or instructional videos, and posters and quizzes using tools like Google Forms.

Works for all levels 

Though more popular in high school and college, a flipped classroom has been adopted by elementary schools too and seen great success. As per research data available from 2014, 96% of teachers who have flipped their classrooms will recommend it to others.

For elementary school teachers alone, there are hundreds of apps suitable to be used in a flipped classroom environment like, Edheads, Skillshare, WeVideo, and GoClass to name a few. Most videos and apps work well on a tablet, phone or computer at home. In the cases where students don’t have access to digital devices, they have the option to use the school or public library to access a computer and internet.

The Flipped Learning Network, an organization advocating for flipped classrooms, provides resources and support for teachers looking to implement a flipped classroom. Tutorials on how to make quality videos and infographics, screen-casting for elementary school teachers, along with plenty of resources on the know-how of flipping a classroom is available for educators through their network.

Technology as the enabler

A flipped classroom is just one of the many technology-driven trends being adopted by schools and colleges across the globe.

A paradigm shift in teaching techniques and the rise of real-world learning, to meet the needs of an evolving future, has undoubtedly been enabled by technology. Technology that has become the answer to many challenges that educators and students face. Technology that is an integral part of a student’s academic success. Technology that our next generation will use to pursue their dreams. 

When technology is made available to teachers, they are enabled to ignite the minds of their students innovatively and make learning personalized. When technology is made available to students, they are enabled to learn more engagingly and consider learning to be relevant.

What new trends are you witnessing at your child’s school? What do you expect technology to change or improve in 2019 in your child’s life?

Shikha Das Shankar is a freelance storyteller. Multitasking dragon slayer mom. Happy hiker. When not writing, she loves hiking with her favorite trio—the son, the daughter and the husband or cooking her favorite foods in her de-stressing zone, the kitchen.

If you can code you can change the world

by Priyanka Raha ~ Dec 06, 2018

Coding

When I started writing this article I wanted to talk about how important it is for every single student to learn how to code.

My third grader was sharing his experience of using scratch at his school. So I asked him. ‘What do you think about coding?’ And that’s what he said.

If you can code you can change the world.

So I went with it. I do not know how much you can change the world with coding but it certainly is a necessary skill in this changing world.

I found three ways to explain why there is a big need for including coding in the school curriculum.

It is not just for the engineer

Let’s first talk about the misconception that coding is meant only for engineers or students who will go on to pursue a career in software development. It is absolutely not.

Coding is nothing more than telling a computer what to do in a language that the computer understands. You see, coding is the language of the future. Look around us today, we are constantly interacting with computers in one way or the other. Given that our world around us is becoming more and more digital,  learning to code is equivalent to learning how to read and write.

Think how a child learns language. She first listens to her parents and people around her and learns how to speak. But that isn’t enough, she has to go on and learn to read, identify words when she sees them so she can make sense of the world around her. Then she has to express her ideas and thoughts, so she has to learn how to write. 

Coding expands the understanding of the world around you. The skills you develop while learning to code are actionable and universal all through out your life. Encouraging your children to learn these skills is equivalent to providing them with tools to not just interact but thrive in this world.

It will teach you how to think

‘Everybody in this country should learn to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.’ ~ Steve Jobs

Coding is not about lines of commands on a screen, it is rather about going from point A to point Z in 24 different ways. It is figuring out the minute well-thought-out steps to achieve a goal. Coding forces you to start thinking in logical steps and how variations in those steps can lead to a different action. 

The essence of coding is in computational thinking, breaking down large complex problems into small digestible chunks and forming repeatable solutions.

Learning computer programming also improves your attention to detail. Given that a missing hyphen or a semicolon can lead to different results, you become quite skilled at paying attention to details.

It can ignite imagination

Have you ever solved a puzzle? Do you remember the excitement of accomplishment at the end of it? What if you told your child she can create her own maze and play with it? Learning how to code will open that door to a world of imagination for her.

Coding is about joining the dots to make the picture whole. Imagine you can make a character of your choice and make it jump up and down. Imagine dragging code blocks that allows you to make catchy music beats and mix them up. 

Coding provides creative ways to build your own worlds and see them come to life. The sheer joy of making things and being able to add movement to complex interlocking parts on screen can be very entertaining. In the words of a tynker maker, who is also a 7th grader ‘Coding is fun because once you have finished it, it’s really fun to play with it.

I can go on and on of all the things that coding enables you to do but for now I want to leave you with the Hour of Code activities. These are categorized by age and they not only teach basic coding skills but are fun and interactive.

So go on, have some fun. 
Let technology be the wind in your sails.
Let the knowledge to code fuel your flights of fantasy.

Priyanka is the Founder and CEO of PopSmartKids, a company created to foster social-emotional learning in children by effective use of technology. A graduate from Purdue University she left her career as a tech exec in 2018 to start a movement of redefining screentime from a monitored time to a powerful tool for mentoring our future generation. She is a mom to two clever boys and a big advocate of digital citizenship for children.