The education world is buzzing with the idea of a flipped classroom. I saw a wonderful presentation last spring at the CAIS Academic Technology Retreat that really got me thinking about what and intriguing concept designed to incorporate learning and technology in and out of the classroom.
As exciting as this concept is, for me, working at an independent school for students with learning disabilities, I was struggling how to incorporate this into our skill based program. Our students are only with us for a time, to gain skills that will make them more successful in more traditional academic settings. This by nature is a teacher led process, as the learning difficulties our students have make self-directed learning a challenge.
“Research suggests that students with disabilities who use technology are more highly motivated and complete more assignments when using the technology” (Skylar, Higgins & Boone, 2007, p.22)
As a teacher and technology leader in my school, I seek to incorporate greater usage of technology into our program, have been working with our Director of Education to see how we can provide our students much needed technology instruction, while meeting their skill based needs. Enter the WebQuest, or what I think of as Mini Flipping.
Success for our students comes from structured, micro-united tasks and WebQuests are exactly that. The concept of WebQuests is not new, but with the increase usage of technology by students, may be a key concept to utilize within our program. In their design, the task is set forth and a defined goal is set, connecting content to an internet task that can culminate in various projects such as slideshows, Glogs, VoiceThreads, etc… These can be used to introduce a topic or be a culminating activity, along with being a great alternate assessment tool that does not need to be an everyday task, but can incorporate technology at various points, providing students with the opportunities to learn how the use of technology can help them in their academic classes.
Direct instruction is a key component of the success of our program and the use of WebQuests is a Mini Flipping of that concept. The teacher designs the task which enables them to create a success-orientated assignment, but then leaves the students to take charge of the process fostering some independence of their learning as well. Additionally, WebQuests can engage various level’s of Bloom’s Taxonomy.
WebQuests are also great for those teachers who don’t have a strong comfort level with technology beyond the very basics. There are many WebQuests already created related to various topics on sites such as www.teach-nology.com WebQuests don’t require the teacher to continuously be using technology as part of the lesson, but rather utilize it at poignant times that fit the lesson. They also don’t require as much technology knowledge, as other components that make up a Flipped Classroom. The Mini Flip can be the door to open the teacher to technology competency as well.
Whether you work in a program where flipping the classroom does not meet the needs of the students, or you don’t have the technology skills to follow this trend, explore the idea of a WebQuest to see if the Mini Flip might work for your students.