Last year I tried-out 20% Time with my first semester students, with mixed results (that’s a previous blog post). Although 20% Time benefited some students, it left me with less in-class instructional time than in previous semesters. At the same time, district teachers were allowed (and encouraged to) access our newly-adopted LMS, Canvas. Several of us teachers and coaches had been granted access to the sandbox version in October prior to going live in January(ish). Up until January I had not had (or made) the time to jump into Canvas. Well, now I was forced to figure-out a way to finish teach this course with limited time.
I did not NEED to finish the course; I WANTED to. You see, I view completion of this course as not exactly a necessity or an endpoint, but more of a jumping-off or starting point in a clinical path. I want my students to be well-prepared for a future in clinical medicine. This means getting a jump on not simply the low-level anatomy, but more so the higher-level thinking required in clinical decision-making. For example obtaining accurate H&Ps (History and Physicals), developing differential diagnoses, forming clinical impressions and treatment plans and evaluating their efficacy. It is the clinical aspect of medicine that must be taught and explored in the classroom; it is most difficult, I would argue impossible, to learn on one's’ own. Anatomy boils-down to memorization. Physiology involves the interconnected relationships of phenomena occurring in the body. Clinical decision-making is the utilization of both to chart a course for the treatment of the patient. We NEEDED to get past the low-level anatomy and REALLY spend good, high-quality classroom time on clinical stuff. That is why I started flipping lectures to videos.
How I started flipping
I started by recording the remaining of the traditional sage-on-a-stage anatomical Google Slides lectures using the free Chrome Store app Screencastify. I first heard of Screencastify in a “Chromebook for Education” class I completed in the Spring of 2016. Great class, facilitated by Tom Mcgee. It is easy to use and can record via webcam, active tab capture or entire desktop capture. In addition, there is a preview feature (box within a box) that enables preview while recording. Annotation is possible with pen tools and the use of a stylus. Lastly Screencastify integrates well with Google Drive, allowing you to instantly playback the video as it saves to your Drive in the background. Like it? Give it a title/file name from within the app (it will name it as such on your Drive). Don’t like the way it came out? Hit the trashcan icon and re-record.
I assigned the flipped lectures as homework and briefly went over the more difficult aspects at the beginning of each class. Most students liked the lectures, while some missed the interaction with me and the dialogue that always accompanies our lecture discussions. Yet others were used to multiple years of note-taking. Something else was missing.
Intro to Flipped Mastery Learning
But aren’t teachers supposed to teach? What are teachers going to do during class if students are watching lecture videos for homework? Good point. How about the higher-level thinking stuff that we struggle to get to because we get so bogged-down with the low-level stuff?
Enter Flipped Mastery. FM takes the ownership of learning low-level content and places it squarely in the lap of the students. FM does not necessarily refer to the flipping of lectures into homework, but rather the flipping of responsibility of learning low-level content to the students. I will admit I thought flipping was simply the making and viewing of videos. But after lots of reading (especially Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day by Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams) and asking questions of my Twitter PLN, I not only learned that FM was more than videos, but a way of helping students demonstrate mastery while learning asynchronously.
Instead of assigning nightly homework and assessing all students at the same time, it actually makes more sense to allow students to learn the material at their own pace and be assessed once they have mastered the material. Some students have after-school sports activities or part time jobs. Or simply want to relax after school. We differentiate learning. Why not differentiate the way students utilize their time? While some students may learn the material quickly on their own and are assessed in class, other students may need more personalized 1:1 help or alternative assignments until they master the material. It really is dumb to expect students to learn material at exactly the same pace. Why not have set checkpoints to keep them on track?
Thoughts on implementation
I think that asynchronous learning will work-out pretty well for my students, especially during dissection labs. I usually have seven lab groups with 4-5 students per group. Typically one dissects, a second assists and third takes pictures and/or videos as needed. Roles rotate every day we dissect (which is almost every day or every other day). There is significant down-time for the third and fourth lab group members. Why not have them productively use their time by completing asynchronous assignments, complete remedial learning opportunities or be assessed if they have mastered content and are proficient? I am excited to try this out with them.