Community colleges should experiment with “flipped” MOOCS (massive open online courses), Bill Gates told the Association of Community College Trustees’ leadership meeting in Seattle.
In a flipped classroom, students watch videotaped lectures at home and work on problems in class. Soon, the quality of MOOC lectures “will be extremely good,” Gates said.
“Of course it’s quite controversial, what software can take over, but once you get a great pool of lectures out there that incorporate problem solving and drill practice, this frees up time” for more-personalized instruction in the classroom, Mr. Gates said.
Flipped MOOCs could remake remedial math, Gates said. Currently, failure rates are very high for remedial math students.
Computer systems can generate an infinite number of worksheets with embedded quizzes, as well as with tips that instructors could then review to determine what students are struggling with, he said. In online lectures, questions pop up every three to five minutes, to keep students alert and to make sure they are ready to move on to the next section.
They can work at their own pace, focusing on specific topics rather than having to move in lock step through a remedial-math sequence with students who might be having trouble with other parts.
The Gates Foundation has invested heavily in boosting completion rates.
Shanna Smith Jaggars, assistant director of the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College, said poor and minority students often struggle in online courses. However, she said the flipped MOOC model could prove effective.