3 ways to use online learning

Here’s how three community college teachers are using online learning to change the way they teach, reports Edudemic.

Meredith Carpenter explains how she “flips” instruction in economics and entrepreneurship classes at Haywood Community College (North Carolina).

Steve Lurenz of Mesa Community College (Arizona) uses an online forum to build a sense of community in his online history classes.

Paramedic Tom Stoudt, started Hero’s Academy, online training for emergency medical technicians in Illinois.

Gates: Flip MOOCs to help students

gatesCommunity 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.

‘Flipped’ engineering boosts pass rates

Flipping” and “blending” a San Jose State engineering class has worked so well that most California State University campuses are expected to partner with edX on similar courses in the fall, reports the San Jose Mercury News. San Jose State will expand the model to humanities, business and science courses.

Eighty randomly selected students in an entry-level engineering course watched online lectures from MIT (the flip), while solving problems in class, with the professor’s help (the blend).  Ninety-one percent of the flipped students passed the class. Only 55 and 59 percent of non-flipped students passed. .

“Five hundred years ago we gave them a textbook, and in 1862 we gave them chalk,” said Anant Agarwal, president of edX. “What tools have we given them since then? Please don’t say PowerPoint.”

In-class problem solving is more effective, said SJSU President Mo Qayoumi. However, the new format requires a lot more time from students and instructors.

The online videos and quizzes can take 10 to 12 hours a week to watch and complete, far more than expected in the traditional format. In addition, (Professor Khosrow) Ghadiri said he and his teaching assistants spend a combined 80 hours a week on the class, preparing materials, checking students’ progress and sending them emails when they fall behind.

Students who put in the work have a very good shot of taking the class only once. And if the 91 percent pass rate holds, the engineering department won’t have to provide all those seats for two-timing students.

California’s community colleges and state universities are looking to online learning to shorten wait lists. The state Legislature is considering a bill to require public colleges and universities to accept online credits if students can’t get into conventional classes.

Community college ‘flips’ classrooms

“Flipping” the classroom –putting lectures online and using class time for coaching, collaboration and discussion — is the latest thing at Grand Rapids Community College, reports EdTech Magazine.

“The idea is not new, but the technology gives more power, flexibility and opportunity to make use of the limited face-to-face time we have for true student engagement and interactive learning.” says Eric Kunnen, director of distance learning and instructional technologies.

Says Professor Garry Brand, GRCC’s lead faculty facilitator of distance learning and instructional technologies, in a TechSmith whitepaper: “These days, students who miss an important point the first time have a second chance. After class, they can pipe the lecture to their laptops or MP3 players and hear it again while looking at the slides that illustrate the talk.”

Shifting lectures to out-of-class time lets professors cover more material and prepares students to participate in class discussions, advocates hope.