Myth #5 REVISITED: “No Tech is Needed for Flip”

‘Tech is more than video’ is a great reason to revisit Myth #5

 Click the microphone for the audioblog version.

Previously I attempted to debunk flipped learning myth number five that states “no tech is needed to flip”. I still believe that for flipped learning in the modern classroom this is a true statement; however, I must admit there are those with reasonable opinions and reasonable perspectives that vary in the technology necessary.  Whereas I am a big proponent of video as a component of flipped learning, others see video playing a smaller role. Among those folks, is Dr. Robert Talbert who wrote the book Flipped Learning: A Guide for Higher Education Faculty. Dr. Talbert is a scholar who is above reproach in both his practice and research. He has uses a personalized version of the Flipped Learning Network’s definition of flipped learning in his book that I will reproduce here:

“a pedagogical approach in which first contact with new concepts moves from the group learning space to the individual learning space in the form of structured activity, 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.”

Dr. Talbert mentions in his blog a talk that he gave at Indiana University where he shared that his definition is agnostic on the use of technology. I can concede that it is a reasonable position, neither denying nor espousing technology, but I still find myself standing more firmly in the camp that makes video technology a key component of flipped learning. The reason I felt like it was necessary to revisit myth number five was my tight focus on the use of video in my previous blog, while I set up the myth with the broader term of technology. I think this myth deserves a second blog addressing not simply the use of video but the use of technology more broadly.

I personally do lean more heavily on the use of video in my flipped classroom but I also think some of Dr. Talbert’s  suggestions for flipped learning without use of video are excellent. Let’s take a look at his suggestions for flipped Learning without video right now.

  • Text with a structured activity

  • Audio with a structured activity

  • Text with social annotation, and a structured activity

  • Games with or as a structured activity

  • Simulation with structured learning activity

I highly encourage you to follow the link and read in more detail his description and examples of the five activities above. http://rtalbert.org/flipped-learning-without-video/

A Common Thread

It does not take much to see the common thread between those five activities. Dr. Talbert has a firm belief in a structured activity as a necessary part of the independence space learning experience. I can confidently say that the longer I do flipped learning the more I understand the necessity of structured activity as part of the independent and group learning space experience. Each of those activities, while not including video, does or could benefit from the use of technology, as Dr. Talbert describes in his blog. Personally, in most of those cases I would add a short video, not because it is absolutely necessary, but such is my proclivity for video.  In particular, my proclivity for video instructions or video modeling of a given activity. But at this point I would like to remind both the reader and myself that this blog centers around technology more broadly, not videos specifically.

The Audio Option

As I have become more familiar with podcasts and podcasting, I am beginning to work them into my curriculum more often. Even as a math teacher, audio only resources can be valuable. What I am coming to appreciate from audio-only sources is the ability to reduce visual distraction; therefore, focusing on the subject content at hand.  An area where audio-only shines is where a conversation or discussion is taking place. Audio-only format allows each idea is allowed to be fully expressed without visual interruption like the shaking of a head or facial expression keying the listener to the coming counterpoint. Of course, the easiest way to deliver these audio resources is by use of digital technology.

Tested Text

Text with a structured activity does not absolutely necessitate the use of technology as books and paper activities have existed prior to the advent of the hexadecimal environment in which we live. However, with the availability of chat functions and digital annotation capabilities there is a richness that can be overlaid with the text.  Text with social annotation is an area that does truly begin to blur the line between the individual and the group space. Students may not be gathering physically for interaction, but as twitter and others have proved, physical presence is not a requirement for a group space. Another advantage of text highlighted by Dr. Talbert is the ease with which digital text can be searched, accessed, and shared. On the other side of the coin, this would be one area in which technology could be used, but in so many cases are overused. Sometimes text and a quiet place is the best environment for learning

Simulation Situation

Finally, games and simulations are a tremendous means of providing exploratory activities or analogy activities for students prior to formal instruction. In most cases, the simulations are far more rich or easily accessible to students through use of technology. Whether the simulation is mathematical, virtually physical, or immersive in nature technology has opened new frontiers in this area.  Games as an independent space activity mean that without technology games are limited to a solitary activity and while those do exist most games benefit from interaction. So if they are intended for the independence space technology must play a role.

Use Wisely Not Simply Widely

Dr. Talbert, in these examples of non-video activities, is clear that he is not anti-technology; however, as we’ve discussed in our other myths, there is a tendency to overuse technology in general, and video in specific, and so of course there must be a counterpoint to that position. I think most flipped learning veterans would agree, as I do, with Dr. Talbert that technology needs to be wisely used not simply widely used.

Works Cited

Talbert, Robert,. Flipped Learning: a Guide for Higher Education Faculty. Stylus Publishing, LLC, 2017.

Talbert, Robert. “No, You Do Not Need to Use Video in Flipped Learning (and Five Alternatives).” Robert Talbert, Ph.D., Robert Talbert, Ph.D., 4 Oct. 2018, rtalbert.org/flipped-learning-without-video/.

Talbert, Robert. “What Does the Research Say about Flipped Learning.” Robert Talbert, Ph.D., Robert Talbert, Ph.D., 21 Aug. 2018, rtalbert.org/what-does-the-research-say/.

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