By Quincy McDonald, Publisher, F.A. Davis
One of the most significant movements in Higher Education is the move to the “flipped” learning environment. Flipped Learning is defined by the Flipped Learning Network as “a pedagogical approach in which direct instruction moves from the group learning space to the individual learning space, and the resulting group space is transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment where the educator guides students as they apply concepts and engage creatively in the subject matter “ [Flipped Learning Network (FLN). (2014) The Four Pillars of F-L-I-P™].
What this looks like for most flipped college courses is that pre-lecture reading is accompanied by a didactic video and assessment materials, all of which are focused on ensuring the learner has solid foundational understanding before arriving to the group learning environment. What happens in the group learning environment is as diverse as creativity will allow. Some group learning sessions are dominated by small group activities where the professor will float between groups and offer guidance as needed. Other professors use the freed group learning space to articulate more advanced lesson materials, often with some sort of classroom response technology or planned breaks for interactivity. The group learning space is refined based on the subject being examined, the orientation of the actual classroom environment, and the number of participants.
At F.A. Davis, we try and equip professors with a wide variety of interactive exercises which can be used in these types of environments. Coming from the most basic use of interrogatory lecture breaks in our PowerPoint presentations, to specific lab and personal discovery group work allocated to each topic area in our Teaching Guides, we provide detailed material on how to make classes more interactive. Professors can also use scenario videos and audio (which accompany many of our textbooks) to generate more group discussion and constructive debate.
While the resources for the group learning space are legion, and allow the creativity of individual professors to sculpt the student experience to their liking, we find that the single most important ingredient to developing a worthwhile group learning space is doing everything possible to enrich the individual learning space. Every asset in our individual learning packages is crafted to maximize engagement and retention, as well as to clearly report compliance and competence to instructors. The didactic material, presented through interactive e-books, lecture videos, animated learning modules, and procedure video demonstrations are professionally developed for the specific course in question and progressively organized so that students can easily navigate from introductory to advanced materials.
This progressive organization is a key to building student competence and confidence, not only preventing student frustration by advancing them too quickly through complex material; but, also being able to pinpoint for instructors at what point in the learning process the student’s development broke down. These particular roadblocks can then be targeted for additional instruction in the group learning space, without burdening that space with remediation material for which students already have demonstrated command.
F.A. Davis, a company dedicated solely to the education of future nurses and health professionals, has a particularly focused interest in making sure all materials presented to students were created specifically for this audience and the course in which they are being used. Too often, materials are thrown at students which were created for non-health majors or for a course on a different track than the course at hand. These materials often interrupt the learning track for the student by applying a sharp disjunction from the relevance of the material, and may even introduce differences in terminology or instructional method. When tutorial and assessment activities are crafted to align with one another in a learning environment specifically engineered to support health-related professions, the student’s learning pathway is more predictable and likely to encourage success.
Another major aspect of the individual learning environment is to try and accommodate as many learning styles as possible. Instead of relying solely on passive reading, materials should encourage students to read, write, listen, and speak in order to fully engage them in an active learning space. An audio scenario brings them into a safe expression of real-life application, open writing demands that thoughts are composed and organized in a coherent fashion, and vocal activities ask students to articulate theoretical material in such a way that others can more easily understand it (and, thereby helping them to personalize the information for greater retention). With our individual learning environments, you will find that all of these modalities are embraced, and that instructors are quickly able to see the student’s time investment and success with such activities, in addition to giving them the opportunity to break students into small groups and have student contributions reviewed as a cohort. This multisensory educational focus not only increases engagement and retention; but, it also prepares the student more effectively for a diverse set of group activities which may take place in the group learning space.
For those professors looking to dip their feet into a flipped course environment, our suggestion is to start with the best and most complete individual learning environment you can find:
- Is the environment easy to use?
- Multisensory in nature?
- Progressively organized?
- Encouraging of collaborative work?
- Tied to the specific text material for the course?
- Empowered with simple, yet, thorough reporting?
If so, then you can start to bend the student preparedness curve and become freer to experiment in the group learning space. At F.A. Davis, we take student learning very seriously. We would be happy to show you how our wealth of resources specific to health-related students and instructors can give you a boost in your efforts to flip the classroom successfully.
For more information, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org about the best solution for flipping your classroom!