In this post, I pick up on my reflections on flipped library instruction, using the design principles outlined in the Kim article below.  My previous post addressed the first five principles; here I conclude and add thoughts on how I might modify flipped instruction in the future, based on my reflections.

Kim, M. K., Kim, S. M., Khera, O., & Getman, J. (2014). The experience of three flipped classrooms in an urban university: an exploration of design principles. Internet & Higher Education, 2237-50. doi:10.1016/j.iheduc.2014.04.003  [Read this article]

  1. Provide an opportunity for students to gain exposure prior to class
  2. Provide an incentive for students to prepare for class
  3. Provide a mechanism to assess student understanding
  4. Provide clear connections between in-class and out-of-class activities
  5. Provide clearly defined and well-structured guidance
  6. Provide enough time for students to carry out assignments
  7. Provide facilitation for building a learning community
  8. Provide prompt/adaptive feedback on individual or group work
  9. Provide technologies familiar and easy to access

#6 – Provide enough time for students to carry out assignments

My thinking on this principle has evolved.  Initially, I believed that, of course, there was enough time for students to both watch my video/s out of class and then make progress on their research in the class itself.  However, I am beginning to question the open-ended nature of the in-class assignment that has been the case in two of the four flipped classes in which I participated.

When students are simply given the go ahead to “work on their papers” or to “start their research,” I have observed students engage in a wide range of activities, from searching in library databases to searching Google to logging into their Facebook accounts.

While the goal of flipped library instruction may often include teaching concepts and strategies that result in effective topic research, a simple “go to it” does not necessarily further that goal.  Certainly experimentation and iteration are key parts of the research process, but during the limited time that a librarian works with a group of students, I think more structure in the in-class assignment is necessary.

Some possible examples:

  • Find three peer-reviewed articles that address your topic.
  • Discover one or two authors who write extensively on your topic.
  • Identify one citation from the reference list of an article you have found that may be of interest.  Find out if that article or book is available through the library.
  • From your initial research, develop a list of keywords and subject headings that appear to cover your topic interest.

Having a more specific assignment connected to in-class work would allow the librarian to better gauge the level of success of the class and allow intervention — both individually or by briefly bring everyone’s attention back together — to address problems or highlight successes.

#7 – Provide facilitation for building a learning community

Creating a class that encourages collaboration and collective learning can be an important goal for a semester-long course.  Within the traditional one-shot library instruction, this goal is difficult to address.  However, what I have found during the in-class part of flipped instruction is that many students naturally work together.  This is to be encouraged, and as I walked around I always found a little bit of teaching and learning going on in those conversations.

Another way I attempted to remind the class that we are all learning together was by periodically bringing their attention back as a group to highlight something I had observed: a unique solution to something, a common difficulty, an extension on something previously taught.  And in the best of these moments, students would also contribute to the conversation and, of course, that becomes infectious.

#8 – Provide prompt/adaptive feedback on individual or group work

This principle represents perhaps the most important benefit of flipped library instruction.  As mentioned in my last post, playing the role of “guide by the side” provides a way to informally assess student understanding of the concepts presented out of class.  Indeed, providing feedback and direction during this period of in-class activity is the action that completes this circle of assessment.

#9 – Provide technologies familiar and easy to access

After trying a few alternatives, I wound up uploading my videos to YouTube.  This is about as basic as you can get, and it is a guarantee that all students should be able to access the assignments.  While I don’t necessarily see the need to introduce more complex — and perhaps unfamiliar — technologies to what I am doing, the point of this principle is well-taken.  Don’t let the technology be an obstacle; make sure it is a tool to learning.

Thoughts on Future Flipped Library Instruction

In addressing the nine principles of flipped instruction above and in my previous post, I point to some of the ways I would change or “tighten” flipped library instruction in the future.  Included on this list:

  • Be more explicit about the goals of the out-of-class video and the in-class assignments.
  • Foreground higher level concepts and stress knowledge that is transferrable to alternative domains.
  • Incentivize the pre-class assignment/s.
  • Work more closely with classroom teacher to develop both the assignment/s and goals of in-class work.  Develop more specific outcomes than simply to “work on your assignment.”
  • Concentrate on creating videos that are more individualized for the specific course needs.  As my inventory of existing videos grows, I will more easily be able to reference additional help without making explicit assignments of multiple videos.

And my final thought on future efforts: keep trying!

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