Has the Internet become so ingrained in students’ minds that traditional education is deemed no longer valuable to them?
Do educators fail to reach young minds when they fail to embrace technology and digital media?
These are questions currently being asked in schools across the nation. With the answer has come the rise in digital lectures and virtual teachers, with some educators embracing a complete turnaround in the way they teach today’s kids.
Change Embraced by Some Teachers
In a recent interview with the “New York Times,” Michelle Rinehart, a high school teacher in Rankin, Texas, indicated she’s been creating video lessons for her students for a long time. The students watch the videos at home, and then Ms. Rinehart uses classroom time for higher-order thinking activities, one-on-one instruction and group projects. According to this experienced teacher, her students appreciate this model and the opportunity to listen to lectures outside the classroom.
Other teachers indicated that digital classrooms help eliminate problems that occur when students skip class. If these students can take their classes at a later time, then a missed session would be less detrimental.
Understanding the Flipped Learning Model
Ms. Rinehart and teachers like her embrace a teaching model known as “flipped learning.” In this model, students take the lecture portion of their coursework via a video, which is not necessarily watched in the classroom. When they come to class, they can work in small groups or receive tutoring from the teacher on aspects of the lesson they didn’t understand from the lecture. The passive part of education, which occurs when students sit and listen to a lecture, doesn’t have to take place in the classroom or require the teacher’s time.
TED-Ed is one example of how this could work. The website offers a collection of educational videos that use both real teachers and digital animations to teach many concepts found in the average curriculum. Teachers can customize these videos to fit the needs of their own classes, and then assign them as part of the coursework. After watching the videos at home, students return to class to discuss them or work on projects related to those topics. The teacher, in turn, doesn’t have to lecture on that particular topic.
While flipped learning might seem like a new concept, the idea of distance learning is not. Video learning as a medium has been around since the 1970s, when certain universities started offering distance higher education through video and television. Today, online learning opportunities abound on the college level. Using those same concepts in the high school and elementary years has not yet reached the mainstream, but the continued emphasis on flipped learning could change this.
Could Teachers Be Replaced?
An increased emphasis on distance learning and video lectures always brings up the concern about whether or not the traditional classroom teacher is going to be replaced. At the fifth annual Flipped Conference in Chicago, educators met to discuss the changing trends in education and the need to embrace more technology. These educators, at least, didn’t feel like this trend was impacting their job opportunities.
The world of education is changing and going in a more digital direction, but the classroom teacher is still a vital part of the puzzle.
By taking the lecture portion outside the classroom, teachers are free to get close to their students and ensure that they are, in fact, learning what the videos or online courses teach. In the end, this creates an environment where students are given more opportunities to grasp the topics in their courses and get help when necessary, which is something most educators will agree is positive.
Lindsey Harper Mac is a professional writer living in the Indianapolis area. She specializes in writing guest posts on social media and education on behalf of American InterContinental University. Currently, Lindsey is completing work on her master’s degree.