Saturday, September 7, 2013

Update 8/9/13 : The Heart of Education

"Education is not the learning of facts, but teaching the mind to think" -Albert Einstein

To those of you who have been following my blog or who are aware of my "project" , I'm sure you guys are familiar with the implementation of flipped learning that I have been working on since early this year. The problem with flipping the class isn't technical , the challenge is persuading the teachers to at least try flipping their classes.

At the heart of education is teaching & learning. Change this , and our education will be improved , which is why education reform is actually a bottom-up approach where students and teachers are the ones who should be actively involved.Of course , looking at the bigger picture , flipping the class isn't the only solution, but it is a start for education reform.

Last week while I had an appointment with the principal regarding the flipped day (a global initiative which was scheduled to be on the 6th of September) , and I was told 2 things:
1) some may view it as "Americanism"
2) it may be an assumption that the teachers haven't done anything.
(Actually,some aspects of the flipped learning is carried out by teachers on daily basis , such as challenging the students to think on some difficult problems or having them to do some group work. However , the difference is that the emphasis on having the students the focus on the content before engaging in some challenge in class is more in flipped learning method. Students get to learn through video lectures that are prepared by teachers so that more time will be spent on teaching them how to think as opposed rote learning. Indeed knowing facts are important , but I believe that more priority should be on challenging our thinking.)

Given the circumstances , I believe it is best to get teachers with experience on flipped learning , as they have more credibility on this topic , to have a dialogue with those who are interested(not forced) to flip their classes. Therefore, I've been trying to get some teachers who may be willing to help through emails , forum in FLN(flipped learning network) and recently just started a TED conversation. For now I'm just waiting for some responses.

As for my social enterprise , Voices of Global Students , I've already made the MVV( Mission , Vision and Values) for the organisation a month ago, and I'm currently trying to figure out a business plan for my organisation. I'll be attending a social entrepreneurship bootcamp at the end of this month, in effort to refine my business plan and deliver a presentation on it. Those with the most appealing project will be funded RM250,000 by the foundation, which will be a major boost in the purpose of the organisation.

I've faced a number of setbacks , but at least I learned to pick myself up when I received a number of support from my friends.  This project isn't something that I can do alone , and I hope some of you could contribute by getting involved in the dialogue (if you are one of the teacher with experience on flipped learning) , some suggestions on the business plan , and support the facebook page here .

Aren't we preparing for jobs that don't exist yet?

How are we preparing ourselves for our future jobs that don’t exist yet? Is it by burning the midnight oil to study for exams? Have you ever wondered how are you going to apply what you learned in school in real life? What are you actually learning, to be obedient, or independent thinkers? Did you know that our education system was modelled and conceived during the Industrial Revolution?

In his article, “How To Get A Job?” Thomas L. Friedman asserts that since jobs are evolving so quickly, a bachelor’s degree is no longer considered an adequate proxy for your ability to do a particular job by employers. Whether you acquired your education through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS), homeschooling, or Stanford, all they care is one thing: how you add value to what you learned. Paraphrasing Harvard education expert Tony Wagner, “ the world doesn’t care anymore what you know; all it cares is what you can do with what you know”.  So what is education? What are we learning in school?

“Education is not a filling of vessel, it is the kindling of flames” – Socrates

With change happening at an unprecedented scale and rate, we face challenges that require us to be creative, as in combining old ideas into a new one, curious, and lifelong learners. The word education is derived from the Latin word, Educe, which means, “to draw forth from within”. It’s about “lighting” the potential in us as learners rather than filling our minds with loads of information. Having that said, how do we solve this problem within our circle of influence?

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

In the heart of education is teaching and learning, without it there won’t be education. Hence, what needs to be improved is teaching and learning, by creating a condition where teachers not only teach the students, but making the students teach amongst themselves. It’s not about putting more effort by using the old solution; it’s about changing our teaching and learning methodology in classrooms, provided that the teachers have the autonomy since they (should) know what they do best. One of the solutions is flipped learning, or also known as the student-centered learning.

In it’s most basic sense, the flipped learning is basically where what you do as homework will be done in class and what you do in class will be done as homework by the use of video lectures. The definition of flipped learning is very slippery, as there could be many versions of it. For example,  Flipped Class 101 ( as Bergmann and Sams ,pioneers of flipped learning call it) , teachers create video lectures for students to watch at him so that they can help them with what used to be their homework in class.  Some have moved to Flipped Class 201 where students work on their own pace until they attain mastery in the topics they are studying.  Apart from that, others didn’t focus on mastery , but  rather other deeper learning strategies such as problem or project based learning, inquiry , challenge based learning etc. It’s entirely up to the teachers on how they would like to run their class.

So what is flipped class, or preferably known as flipped learning? Here are some points on what flipped learning is.
·      Transfers the ownership of the learning to the students.
·      Personalizes learning for all students
·      Gives teachers time to explore deeper learning opportunities and pedagogies with their students. (Problem based learning,  Challenge based learning , Mastery etc.)
·      Makes learning (not teaching) the center of the classroom
·      Maximizes the face-to-face time in the classroom.

Since many people tend to have misconceptions on the flipped learning , here’s a list of FAQ on it.

1. Does it make the teachers less important?

With the flipped learning, the role of a teacher is empowered, by giving perspectives, inspire and mentor the students instead of rote lecturing. The class will be student-centered instead of teacher-centered. Students will be more likely to claim ownership of their education. It's not just about the student-teacher ratio, it is about student-teacher time ratio. With this, struggling students will receive more help from their teacher, and students will also get to see things from many different nuanced perspectives, which develops their critical thinking skills. In short, technology doesn't replace, it complements with the teachers.

2.Isn't it more like an opportunity to bring boring lectures to a different location?

I believe that there are many approach that can be made to make the video more interesting, such as having more dialogue, make it approximately 10 minutes short and etc.

3.What if the Internet is simply too slow?

We can always consider using flash drive , or burn the videos into a disc.

4. What if the teachers are interested, but do not have the time to produce the videos?

Not all the teachers are expected to make these videos for their classes. Besides , as for a start , we do not need to flip the whole subject , we can begin by using the method only for difficult topics, as pointed out here ( on myth no.2.

Flipped learning is becoming increasingly popular in universities like Harvard and Stanford University. It shows that it can bring outcome we desire , provided when we implemented it correctly. Since in the heart of education is the learner and educator , I believe learners or students should play their part in the education reform that is already happening now , especially in the U.S.A.  Do support and like my facebook page here and follow my blog on