2017年2月12日 2 12, 2017 EVENT REPORT Symposium

Rethinking the lecture: Examples of flipped classrooms at MIT and UTokyo

On February 12, 2017, we organized a symposium on one of the teaching techniques that has received considerable attention in recent years. The flipped classroom technique is designed to help students acquire knowledge (typically through the means of a video) outside the classroom, while spending time in class applying the knowledge to real-world problems. Given that many of the programs taught in non-Japanese languages at Komaba adopt a student-centered, active-learning approach to teaching, we felt that this flipped classroom technique was particularly relevant for the faculty who teach in these programs. In fact, there has been considerable interest in flipped classrooms at Komaba, and a handful of faculty members have been trying it out in their respective courses. In the symposium, these faculty shared their experiences and expertise related to flipped classrooms.

The symposium was attended by 37 participants who came not only from UTokyo, but also from other institutions. The advertising poster, and the program that was distributed at the symposium, are included as Appendices A and B, respectively. In what follows, we provide a brief report on each presentation session.

Appendix A

Transforming a traditional classroom into the flipped-classroom mode: A case study at MIT
Presenter: Dr. Shigeru Miyagawa (MIT/Center for Research and Development in Higher Education, UTokyo)

Report: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) started offering MOOC courses (through the platform of edX) in 2011. Most recently, 90% of MIT undergraduate students take at least one course that is blended or flipped. The number of the universities and the courses offered by these universities are increasing every year. In fact, according to Dr. Miyagawa, all of the top 25 institutions in the US are currently offering a number of MOOC online courses. He argued that just as some textbooks have had a huge impact on education around the globe, in this digital era, online courses (like MOOCs) are increasing their impact on education and making a significant contribution to society. Dr. Miyagawa, hence, believes that MOOCs transform society in many ways.
 
At MIT, Dr. Miyagawa (together with Dr. John W. Dower) created an edX MOOC course called “Visualizing Japan.” In this online course, students watch videos on a variety of topics related to Japan. For example, they see a few images of Mathew Perry who came to Shimoda, Japan in 1853. The two images of Perry shown in the presentation were both drawn by Japanese artists and yet looked quite different. The second one looked considerably scarier than the first. The students are then asked what these two different images reflect. Apparently, the images of Perry changed depending on how Japanese people perceived him. The latter painting was done after the Japanese people realized what his hidden agenda for coming to Japan really was. As seen in this example, one of the important aspects of this online course is that the students are not only required to learn from the video materials but to engage in online discussions with their peers. According to Dr. Miyagawa, these discussion forums are always active, thoughtful, and peaceful (not too aggressive), and they are one of the highlights of the course for many of the students.
 
Creative Commons (https://creativecommons.org) makes sharing of digital teaching materials (e.g., videos) possible without the worry of copyright issues. What it also allows for the users (e.g., instructors) to do is to alter the materials for their particular pedagogic purposes. One of the concerns that instructors might have (even those who are interested in the flipped classroom technique) might be the design of video materials. Hence, Dr. Miyagawa argued that finding a way for instructors to create a video easily is an important task. In fact, Cyber University offers a program called CC Producer, which allows instructors to create video materials readily (http://biz.cyber-u.ac.jp/products/ccproducer/). Currently, many instructors at UTokyo and elsewhere in Japan are trying out this CC Producer.
 
Through this plenary presentation, I realized that the effort to make the learning content/material interesting for the students could be even more important for the online and flipped learning environments than in the face-to-face environment. To me, this intrinsic type of incentive seemed to be the motivation for the students to actively participate in the discussion forums offered within "Visualizing Japan." Overall, it was extremely insightful to learn what is going on in a top-notch US institution, especially with regards to technology. (Shoko Sasayama, GFD)
Flipping a foundation science course: What and how I did it and what I learnt
Presenter: Dr. Jonny Woodward (PEAK, UTokyo)

Report: In his talk, Dr. Woodward summarized his motivations, approach, and preliminary results towards switching his introductory chemistry course in the PEAK Environmental Science program from a conventional lecture style classroom to a flipped learning environment. His decision to do so was informed in part by his involvement in the development of a problem-based learning (PBL) chemistry curriculum while he was on faculty at the University of Leicester. Furthermore, while Dr. Woodward felt that the conventional lecture method had led to a successful class, lunchtime discussions that had been functioning as extensions of the class indicated that the students could, and should, be pushed to a higher standard. Therefore, he chose to flip the course structure such that students received lectures as the homework and would spend time in class exploring the concepts more deeply through an approach that seems similar to PBL.
To implement a flipped style classroom, Dr. Woodward recorded his entire lecture series during one semester. These videos were then used in subsequent semesters as material that students watch before arriving in class.  Because the lecture in this case is still deemed as an important method of information transfer, students are encouraged to take notes while watching and thus act as if attending a live lecture. Class sessions are then arranged in the following pattern: 1) a team-based problem solving activity modeled from the Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) framework, 2) an interactive quiz which ensures that students watched the lectures followed by a Q&A session, 3) a second team-based POGIL. Each session lasts for about 35 minutes. Dr. Woodward makes use of an online tool called Socrative, which allows him to administer the quiz and view the results in real-time. This information can be used to drive the Q&A session.
Flipping his classroom has led to improved class attendance and increased peer interaction amongst students. Furthermore, by devoting class time to activities that test the students’ knowledge, Dr. Woodward found that through increased interaction with them he became more aware of which concepts the students understood and which ones were still problematic, presumably on a per student basis.
Several aspects of Dr. Woodward’s approach parallel my own approach toward teaching in a flipped style classroom. For example, to ensure that students work together during problem solving sessions, one team receives a single activity sheet. This encourages them to share the information and talk to each other. Furthermore, quizzes to serve as extrinsic motivation to watch the video lecture is a practice I have also found to be effective. Finally, the use of tools like Socrative to create an interactiving quizzing environment is a method I have also found useful to effectively address gaps in student knowledge without devoting time to material they already understand.
One new piece of information for me was Dr. Woodward’s approach to assessing group member contribution during problem solving activities. Students individually and privately assess each other using a relative scoring method. In this approach the sum of scores must equal zero. Therefore, if all students did equal work, then the student providing the assessment would assign 0 to each member. If that person felt she did all of the work, then she would assign herself a score 1 and each other member, assuming a 4 member group, would receive negative 1/3, resulting in a sum of 0. I thought this was an interesting approach toward pushing the students to be responsible for their own involvement and I may try this in my own classes that have elements of group-based discussion or problem solving. (James Ellinger, Centre for Global Communication Strategies)
 
Beyond just videos: Focusing on class activities in a flipped framework
Presenter: Dr. David Casenove (ALESS, UTokyo)

Summary:
In this 35-minute presentation, Dr. Casenove provided us with examples of a flipped pattern of instruction and highlighted the differences that exist between classroom activities in a knowledge-based class and in a skilled-based class.  By making a distinction between those two types of classes, and focusing on the needs of the students, it can aid in the design of better in-class activities which will help instructors to successfully implement a flipped model in their classes.

Report: A flipped classroom is all about changing the role of the instructor and student in the classroom, and improving the experience for students to learn; students receive the course content outside of class through online material, and in-class activities focus on the concepts students are having the most trouble understanding.  Dr. Casenove’s presentation mainly focussed on in-class activities, rather than on online material.  He began his talk by recapping why the flipped model is more beneficial to student learning than the passive lecture-type classes; examples mentioned from the students’ perspective included timely feedback and support, increased motivation, and better retention of the course content.  In 2014, he introduced the flipped model while teaching scientific writing (i.e. ALESS) to 1st-year students at the University of Tokyo.  He argues that the flipped class can be used in both a knowledge-based class and in a skilled-based class but there is a distinction in the types of in-class activities an instructor should use.

In a knowledge-based class (e.g. biology), the target is to understand the various concepts (e.g. photosynthesis) and the task is to identify the gaps in the knowledge among students.  For homework, students watch or read the online content, and answer multiple choice questions (e.g. what is the function of cytochrome p450?).  In class, activities would focus on applying this knowledge with more challenging discussions carried out within small groups (e.g. what would happen if plants were given sugar?).  In a skilled-based class (e.g. scientific writing), the target is the acquisition and application of specific skills and the task is to assess and troubleshoot; this approach promotes independence, autonomy and collaboration among students.  Dr. Casenove provided us with an example from the ALESS course where students write an IMRaD style scientific paper.  For homework, students would watch two 10-minute online videos about how to write one section of the paper (e.g. Introduction), and then complete an online quiz to gauge their understanding of what they just watched.  For in-class activities, students practice writing an Introduction section within small groups, and are able to receive feedback from each other and the instructor.  Each group would also be given an opportunity to check another group’s Introduction, before starting to write their own individual Introduction section.  After taking the flipped ALESS class, students were asked to complete a survey questionnaire to assess their experience.  Although, students were positive regarding both online videos and in–class activities, they showed a preference for the video material over in-class activities (Kirk and Casenove, 2016).

Dr. Casenove also explained how the roles of both instructor and student changes with the introduction of the flipped model.  The instructor becomes the course designer, a facilitator and a coach; it should be noted the absence of ‘lecturer’ from the instructors role.  On the other hand, students take the role of self-learner, team member and also instructor.  In concluding his talk, he mentioned some of the challenges of introducing a flipped class in the context of higher education in Japan, which included the transition of student-centered classes from an exam orientated one, issues surrounding the learning style of students versus the teaching style of the instructors, and the time needed to prepare online material—should individual teachers produce their own online material or should it be a team effort?

I believe the approach Dr. Casenove is taking in his classroom to improve the learning experience of his students is the right one and needs to be encouraged within the University of Tokyo.  Although, there was insufficient time to delve into the issue of who should produce the online and in-class material, I hope in a future talk we can hear Dr. Casenove opinion on this matter. (Martin O’Brien, Centre for Global Communication Strategies)
 
Reference
Kirk, S., and Casenove, D. (2016).  Flipping the Academic Writing Classroom.  Flipped Instruction Methods and Digital Technologies in the Language Learning Classroom, p 196.
 
Introduction to effective active learning
Presenter: Dr. Lui Yoshida (KALS, UTokyo)

Report: The session presented by Dr. Lui Yoshida aimed to the discussion on how to achieve effective active learning strategies in classroom, with a special focus the flipped classrooms. Dr. Yoshida is an assistant professor at the Komaba Organization for Educational Excellence (KOMEX) and works specifically with professional development and educational technology. In a meta-approach, his session included several activities based on active learning principles, what provided the audience with an experience of these activities. At the beginning, Dr. Yoshida described the flipped classroom strategy, giving examples of its implementation and stating its golden rules, corresponding to the need of: 1) a highly structured design for the class; 2) a significant amount of learning activities; and 3) several incentives for out-class work. Afterwards, the talk focused on the second golden rule, while Dr. Yoshida exposed different learning activities that can be implemented in flipped-classes, nominally: the questioning method, think-pair-share and peer instruction. The exposition of these many methods, together with the precise delimitation of key-points for a successful implementation of it were well received by the audience, and may bring critical effects to the class development of the faculty in Komaba. (Diego Tavares Vasques, Department of Multi-Disciplinary Sciences)
Student involvement in designing and implementing the “flipped class”
Presenter: Dr. Yuki Ohara (KALS, UTokyo), Natsuko Azuma (College of Arts and Sciences, UTokyo), and Takuki Koizumi (College of Arts and Sciences, UTokyo)

Report: Dr. Ohara is an associate professor at the Komaba Organization for Educational Excellence (KOMEX) and has provided us with an interesting and rich discussion on the outputs of a new course she is facilitating at the University of Tokyo. The course provides an opportunity for undergrad students to experience the design and implementation of educational strategies in higher education. The class reported in this seminar was composed by eight students and received direct support of five faculty members who visited classes along the semester. The course syllabus includes 13 classes, covering lectures on active learning methods, activities of classes’ design and production of materials to be implemented in mock class. According to Dr. Ohara, the expectations of the course are that it may help: increase the understanding of active learning among undergrad students; the development of presentation and facilitation skills; and bring students and faculty members closer.

On the second half of the seminar, Dr. Ohara invited two of her students to present some thoughts on the course. The questions for the students were: Why did you take this course?; What have you learned?; What has changed after taking the course?; and What are the effects of student involvement in class design? Both of the guest students reported that the classes were very interesting and helped them become more conscious of the purposes of the in-class teaching activities, raising the awareness of the applied educational methods. Both of them also mentioned that the several active learning methods explored during the course were very intriguing, with the Jigsaw-method particularly noteworthy. (Diego Tavares Vasques, Department of Multi-Disciplinary Sciences)
Appendix B: Symposium program

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