Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Profs Know Tech

Professors Know About High-Tech Teaching Methods, 

but Few Use Them

This from the Chronicle of Higher Education:
Innovation is sweeping the world of higher education, but not all faculty members are embracing it in their classrooms.

A new survey from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has found that 40 percent of the professors surveyed use or are interested in using innovative techniques and technologies. But of that 40 percent, only half—or 20 percent of the overall survey sample—have actually used them.

The survey asked professors whether they had used various kinds of high-tech teaching methods, including clickers, the flipped-classroom model, hybrid courses, and social media or discussion forums.

One of the most-adopted new approaches, according to the sample, is the flipped classroom, with 29 percent of respondents saying they had tried it. Free course content also ranked relatively high, at 27 percent adoption. The highest-ranked category was group projects, though some could argue that the approach is neither technology-based or new.

For most of the approaches mentioned, the bulk of professors said they were familiar with the idea but had not tried it.

For the study, “U.S. Postsecondary Faculty in 2015: Diversity in People, Goals, and Methods, but Focused On Students,” researchers surveyed 3,971 faculty members at two- and four-year institutions.


Richard Innes said...

I suspect I have the longest familiarity with Flipped Learning of any of your readers. Though the term had yet to be invented, I was engaged in a Flipped Learning approach when I was an instructor pilot at Columbus AFB, Mississippi way back in 1971. At that time I became the first programmer for the first generation of operational teaching machines used in the USAF pilot training program.

Even with our crude equipment (by today’s standards), USAF pilot training’s Flip Learning approach was an outstanding success. It freed instructor pilots from the need to present very basic briefings on procedures and maneuvers using antiquated blackboard and grease pencil approaches.

Instead, students got introduced to new concepts and procedures with high quality audio-visual presentations that even included a question capability. As a result, IPs could jump right in with more advanced briefings starting with each student pilot’s very first flight.

The program modules I created were based on both the Air Force’s rather detailed standards and curriculum documents and my fairly decent experience as both an instructor and combat veteran who understood where pilot training was supposed to take each student. The modules were solid because they also underwent a careful editing process by another expert IP to insure both procedural accuracy and clarity of presentation. Also, we were always open to corrections from line instructors if they found issues, as well.

There was no such thing as a “bad day” with a module. We worked hard to avoid creating misconceptions, and we could revise and re-record each module, if necessary, until we got it right.

More recently, during my years in commercial aviation my company became extremely reliant on Flipped Learning approaches to conduct both initial aircraft training and much of the recurrent training program, as well. Powerful, computer-based instructional tools had advanced greatly from the initial 1970’s machines. Programs could be created more rapidly, and the results were much favored by both busy pilots and company trainers who needed to conduct critical training effectively and efficiently while keeping training costs under control.

A key point for your readers is that Flipped Learning pilot training programs have not replaced any instructors, to my knowledge. Instead, it made instructors more effective while relieving the need to do those very basic, introductory briefings, which could get rather boring for more senior instructors who had worked with many new students.

In any event, I am surprised and a little disappointed that only a minority of college professors have even attempted to incorporate Flipped Learning into their programs. That might signal a rather disappointing lack of innovation on campus and may put colleges far behind education efforts in both the military and industrial sectors.

Richard Day said...


I’ve always found this part of your background interesting. The training of America’s pilots, as I understand it, is second to none. The best equipment, the most adept students who were well-screened before entering this exclusive, and very well-funded, performance-based, government training program…

I’m not sure how similar early seventies flipping is to my own online and hybrid courses, but I would have loved to observe the process.

Were your guys (literally, I suppose. Any women?) flying the Talon?


Anonymous said...

As an instructor, I certainly know the benefits of the "flipped classroom" but it is my recent experience that the students we are receiving in post secondary are often not prepared to function independently in an academic sense. The very nature of the student centered responsibilities of flipped class, can often lead to even greater anxiety. Let's face it, that model just isn't wide spread in K-12 where student performance is the responsibility of the teacher and not the student. Equally, I think we sometimes assume that just because they are young, they already technologically capable when sometimes they aren't.

Richard Innes said...

“The training of America’s pilots, as I understand it, is second to none.”

It is very good, though some argue Israel does even better.

“The best equipment, the most adept students who were well-screened before entering this exclusive, and very well-funded, performance-based, government training program…”

Students were well-screened, but not all proved adept at flying. A notable proportion “washed out.” As I recall, in my own training class we started with 70 and ended with 60 getting wings, and that was a much better success rate than most classes were posting in the late 1960’s.

Of course, we are not letting just anyone into college, either, though the standards are certainly nowhere near as stringent as those the Air Force imposes on pilot applicants.

“I’m not sure how similar early seventies flipping is to my own online and hybrid courses, but I would have loved to observe the process.”

It was really exciting. We were entering totally new territory with no real guidance on how to make it happen (something relatively rare in the military, at least for lower-ranking officers). Fortunately, the guys who started the learning center with me at Columbus AFB were strong and experienced pilots and also highly creative. We were willing to take chances to get superior results, and it all panned out thanks to a lot of hard work.

The equipment available today is much more sophisticated than anything we had available in 1970 (the microchip was still about 5 years in the future at that time). I suspect today there are shell programs sort of analogous Power Point but designed to expedite creation of interactive learning courses. That sophistication would replace a multi-day process that was required to record audio narration and shoot and develop the 35 mm slides we used for visuals in our equipment.

“Were your guys (literally, I suppose. Any women?) flying the Talon?”

It was all guys when I started. The first women didn’t arrive until somewhere around my eighth or tenth year on active duty. It was a challenging change for a lot of people, but I thought it made sense and I even helped check out the first female active duty pilot to upgrade to instructor in the KC-135 tanker aircraft in the mid-1980s. She was a good flier and really gutsy, too. There is a neat “war story” about that.

The T-38 Talon was indeed already in service when I started in 1968. It had, and still has, some of the fastest final turn and final approach airspeeds of any operational aircraft. That made it a challenge for student pilots. Sadly, a few were not up to it and there were some accidents. However, if you paid attention, it was a really great performing airplane, fully aerobatic and the first supersonic jet trainer ever produced (going supersonic in the bird actually was sort of a non-event. The transition was very smooth, just like in the F-111, where I’ve seen the high side of Mach 2, which is pretty fast).

Actually, it is amazing that the T-38 is still in service. Since their introduction in 1961 they have been subjected to a lot of stress by student pilots who sometimes wrap an awful lot of “Gs” on the bird. The wings are currently being replaced and that will extend the life to 2020. That will make the birds about 60 years old at retirement!

I think there is a solid future for teachers who can master the added skills to create their own flipped learning instructional materials. So, I’d be interested to hear how you are doing technology in your courses today. I’ll bet some of your readers might get some helpful ideas from that.