Creating Wikis and Using Twitter in a Flipped Classroom: A Walden University Blog Entry
This is the Module Six blog assignment which requires me to explore two technologies that can be used in teaching. As I try to focus on technologies that help me with my particular teaching style, I have chosen Wikis and Twitter for these choices. As many of you know, I am an advocate and practitioner of the flipped classroom when it comes to F2F teaching. Lecture is Dead! No more kill and drills, no more Death by PowerPoint treks into mind numbing ennui. My students are now the instructors in charge of their learning, or as close to it as possible under the interactive system.
As students work in groups within this interactive learning model, they are taking multiple streams of content and translating it to each other in making a group answer to the questions posed to them in each lesson. They deliver these answers to the rest of the class. What happens when students miss the class? How do they receive the processed information? For that matter, what if students wish to revisit that information? Also, should we expect them to retain this information for the duration of the semester for retrieval when we ask them to write the comprehensive essay at the end of the course?
Obviously we should consider a way to record that information. One method is that of recording the group answers in a podcast. This is possible using the existing technology in most classrooms. It is also possible with an app through the Canvas LMS which uses webcams are the recording device. Thus any PC, laptop, smart phone, or webcam equipped tablet becomes a digital video recorder. The podcast can be uploaded easily into the LMS or a website or YouTube for retrieval by students at any time.
Call me old school, but I like the concept of a written wiki. It has advantages that the podcasts do not. First, it is changeable. Let’s say the group answer is wrong or needs some refining by the professor (Yes, I still have to be there). The podcast may not capture this whereas in the wiki the group can alter the answers so that they are correct. Also, the wiki is able to be printed out. It can be read and I really think that mode of data transmission has some advantages when it comes to students processing information. Students will fluctuate either way on that, but for now the print version of material is still dominant in education. Thus, those who are not good visual and audio learners will not be at a disadvantage.
Also, both wikis and podcasts are mobile learning forms. I like that and it fits in with the flipped design. However, the wiki is an option that can be built over time and show the change over time element in the themes we explore in the survey course (O'Bannon & Britt, 2012). It also serves as an assignment for assessment, reinforces learning with the written component, and can easily be done at any time whether students are in or out of class. Since time management is very important in college, having flexibility is wonderful.
The other option is using Twitter. I am not certain if this is necessary in smaller classes, but it has been used effectively in large lecture halls. Of course, we will not be lecturing, but having an open Twitter feed can allow for a class wide exchange of information and ideas. I have never used Twitter in class before, but I have read on how it has been used. At this point in the development of the summer courses, I am debating on how to use it. It is possible for students to use Twitter to ask questions during the out of class content processing stage. All students in the feed could see the questions, answer accordingly, point out content locations, affirm success or failure, even better have questions there for the instructor to work with (Junco, Elavsky, & Heiberger, (2013).
One of the major issues with the flipped design is that some students will try to get out of the content processing stage before class. Using the Twitter feed, an instructor can make it mandatory that students ask three questions via Twitter or content comments before the class period. Let’s say in my Geography course we are on Chapter Four studying Europe. A student in one group might have to be exploring France and its geography. The course is Monday. He could work with the delivered content on Sunday, have a question about the biomes in France in conjunction with Google Earth, and ask it via the Twitter feed with practically any device. (Yes, this is m-learning capable. Beginning to see a pattern here yet?). He asks the question, and then two more over something else while getting answers from others or reading earlier questions and tweets. He could answer some questions too.
This would serve as one potential check on students blowing off the interfacing with content prior to class. So will a nice quiz on selected days, particularly after noting some students obviously trying to skate. A few marbles on the floor will disrupt some, but not all of the skaters. Some are determined to wipe out. Also, nothing beats a good old writing assignment which is why essays are always needed in any course. The one thing about essays is that I want to talk about them in class. The problem is that by the time they get them turned in we’ve moved past the subject. This is another place the Twitter feed can be used. In fact, this is probably one of the best places to use Twitter. Mandatory tweets on the essay can be used by the instructor to develop some talking points for class.
Basically, use these technologies to push students in the learning process. Yes, they are going to fight back. Some will not do the work no matter what you say, use as a learning technique, or use as bait. However, others will get involved and run with the plan. There is no magic bullet. We have to work with what we have, but let’s make that work fun and challenging. Using wikis and Twitter in the flipped interactive classroom as learning technologies can be useful. I sure hope so because I am using them this summer. I do want to note that Facebook could work in place of Twitter. This is something that may be a class by class thing. I think Twitter is less of a distraction than Facebook though. Your mileage may vary.
Junco, R., Elavsky, C., & Heiberger, M. (2013). Putting Twitter to the test: Assessing outcomes for student collaboration, engagement, and success. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44(2), 273-287.
O’Bannon, B. & Britt, V. (2012). Creating/developing/using a wiki study guide: effects on student achievement. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 44(4), 293-313.