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Guest Post: Flipping the Classroom with Tablets

05.29.2014

This summer the HPU Tech Blog will be featuring blog posts from professors at High Point University who are actively using technology tools in the classroom.  This is the third in the series, written by Adam Graham-Squire, Jenny Fuselier, Karen O’Hara, and Laurie Zack.  Graham-Squire, Fuselier, O’Hara, and Zack are Instructors in Mathematics.  Here is their post:

In the fall of 2013, four math professors (Laurie Zack, Jenny Fuselier, Adam Graham-Squire, and Karen O’Hara) used the screencast software Camtasia to flip their introductory mathematics courses.  Each professor would write out their lecture on a tablet computer, and Camtasia would record both the material written on the computer as well as the instructor’s voice explaining the written lecture.   These videos were then posted to blackboard, where students would watch them to prepare for class.  During the class, the professor would answer questions about the video lectures, and then the rest of class time was spent actively working problems.  The idea was to move the “individual” part of the course (where the student is passively listening to a lecture) outside of the classroom, then move the active part of the course (where the student in working math problems) to class time where students could collaborate and work together.

Overall, the instructors felt there were a number of pedagogical benefits to the method.  Camtasia was relatively easy to learn how to use, thanks in part to a demonstration given by Sam Harlow at the library.  There were relatively few technical glitches, perhaps the largest of which was adjusting the volume on the videos—Camtasia tended to play back the sound at a low volume, and students occasionally had difficulty hearing the lecture.   Although we are not convinced that the method is ideal for all material, there were definitely portions of each course that benefitted from the flipped method.  All of us have continued to use the videos (or will continue to use the videos) to help prepare our students for classes after our first trial run.  Data we collected indicated no statistically significant difference between the test scores of our flipped sections and our traditional lecture sections.  The were a number of students who were vocally opposed to the flipped method, however, who did not like having to watch videos to learn the material.  We believe part of this opposition was due to the fact that the students in the flipped courses were predominantly freshmen; it is our belief that the method may be more beneficial for more mature students.

Image taken by Tiffany Hobbs, http://www.flickr.com/photos/tm_hobbs/6832341387/

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