Extending the flipped classroom
We agree with Salman Khan, founder of the Khan Academy that has given living proof of the viability and value of the flipped classroom:
“We think if we can show that it works and that if we can give a toolkit so that we can document how it’s worked in all of these classrooms and we can give it to any student — any teacher or parent in the world, then …let the world decide for themselves if it’s something they want to do, and we’ll hope to support them more and more in doing it and making it a richer and richer offering.”
We’re even ready to flip it again.
The Khan Academy effectively reformulates and rebuilds the traditional educational model by respecting the role of teachers and trainers in the creation and control of content. But they then take a major step beyond it: they build in the expectation that the learners will communicate amongst themselves to make sense of the content thus provided. And they provide them with the tools. The Khan Academy is built to encourage this kind of behavior. They know it’s the key to successful learning since learning requires motivation and initiative on the part of the learners to get beyond the superficial discourse of the curriculum, to give it personal value.
What a wonderful starting point! And that’s exactly how it works: teachers and trainers provide the starting point from which learners learn, constructing their knowledge.
That’s how we at Skillscaper have worked, first by building Gamescaper, a powerful authoring tool that enables trainers to create non-linear content with their choice of media (e.g. vidoe, 3D animation, etc.). By building with non-linear logic, the content already contains multiple perspectives, highlighting the importance of context.
Gamescaper is a tool any trainer can feel comfortable with, but it’s powerful features will interest serious producers of e-learning. That’s why we added Chatscaper, which makes the teacher or trainer’s job much easier. In fact it’s so easy learners themselves can do it, guided by the trainer or even on their own… even just for the sake of having fun with what they’re learning. We recognize that it is best done under the guidance of the trainer, but the learners are free to discover their own source of motivation. Because it isn’t just an “educational project” but an actual game they are creating, there’s a fun and creative experimentation dimension that is too often lacking in educational endeavors. And because it involves recognizing not only the “right answers” but why the “not so right answers” don’t fit, it diminishes the fear of failure that has so long dominated educational practice. Exploring why some things don’t work while other do, and accounting for this, is a major part of all authentic learning experience.
On the subject of projects, later in the same interview. Salman Khan adds,
“For me, ..the deepest learning happens with a project-based story, but the projects can only be useful if people go into the projects with the core toolkit.”
Now a major part of the Khan toolkit is the videos they produce. These videos export the lecture from the classroom to the web and hand over the responsibility of assimilating the contents to the students, both individually and collectively, at their own pace. It counts on that social dimension, which of course has its hazards that the teacher cannot control. What we’re doing with Chatscaper is extending the toolkit, providing the framework for the “project-based story” and assigning authoring duties to the learners, but guidance and direction to the teachers and trainers.