Issues in the Education System Series: Part I| Part II
The most difficult college courses I have taken had two things in common: they were subjects I was never really strong in and they were taught by professors who were expected to instruct between 300-700 students at a time. Thus, universities like my own have increasingly turned to online classrooms to accommodate more students into these already packed courses.
Some educators, however, are using a hybrid of online and in-classroom courses to produce a more valuable educational experience.
I recently came across a few articles written by educator Robert Talbert on developing a new model of teaching in higher education. Many of his ideas are revolutionary, such as the inverted classroom model, which directs students to listen to online ‘lectures’ and then uses the classroom time for labs and discussions instead.
This model has received criticisms from both students and educators. Much of the backlash stems from the deep attachment to the traditional view of class time being used to convey information to the students with lectures. My previous blog on “Why Our Current Education System is Leading us to Failure” discussed the ineffectiveness of this outdated method of transmitting materials passively to students, which Paulo Freire calls “the banking system” of education.
Talbert argues that the inverted model of teaching challenges this passive, traditional model by having students listen to “lectures” on their own time and at their own pace online. Talbert finds this to be beneficial for student learning as the lectures are “broken up into rewindable, pause-able, digestible chunks and posted online where people can view them on their own schedules and according to their own listening practices.”
This puts more emphasis on the assimilation rather than just the transmission of information. Then the class time could be used to apply the materials in labs and discussions, allowing the lessons to solidify into the minds of the students through practice and application.
This model may not suit all courses and educators. Some may find this problematic as students may take advantage of this system and not listen to the online lectures.
Other courses may find it necessary to go through lectures in the physical classroom as some complex materials could be addressed more effectively if students have the opportunity to ask questions as the material is being covered live.
Nevertheless, educators should attempt to incorporate some elements of this model in their classrooms to enhance the retention of knowledge. For the inverted model should be appreciated for the pedagogy it encourages through its hand-on oriented approach: student-teacher interactions, peer collaboration and the emphasis on application of knowledge rather than just a passive transmission of information.
Though this won’t solve the issue of overcrowded classrooms, this model may be able to address some flaws of our current system by equipping students to become active participants of their own education rather than indifferent recipients.