Most teaching models in high school and college follow the age-old standard: first, lecture the students, telling them what they need to know; then, send the students home to apply what was taught to a project or a paper.
This approach was developed in the days when the educator was the only source of knowledge, before mass-produced books, the internet, eBooks, computers, multimedia and mobile devices made it possible for each student to have the entire world's knowledge in their pocket. Back then, educators held the knowledge and students listened to their lectures because there was no other way to learn new concepts and ideas.
But the hard part of learning is not listening to the lecture. The hard part is doing the work: practicing and performing the new task until you master it. This is where most students struggle because, as their questions arise, guidance is needed and educators are not available around the clock.
Many educators have come up with a new way to teach that takes advantage of information technologies. They have turned the old approach upside down, bringing the practice and performance into the classroom; and leaving the lecture-listening for homework. This way, they can support their students when they need it, and students can help each other figure out the tough parts. We might describe this as the F.L.I.P.P. approach:
Farm out the
Lecture as homework, then,
Inside of the classroom,
Perform the tasks to build skills
While this isn’t a particularly new approach, some teachers are finding great success with it; so I wanted to share what this could look like in a Microsoft IT Academy member school.
Let's take a simple example, like teaching a skill that's required in the Microsoft Office curriculum: opening and editing a PDF file with Word. Under the old approach, we'd teach it this way:
First, in class, the students would sit and watch as the educator lectured them and showed them on the big screen how to open a PDF file with Word. An educator would stand up in front of the students and show them how this works best with documents that are mostly text, and how some older PDFs won't open at all. As students watched, the educator would demonstrate how to use the editing and formatting features of Word to work with the content of the PDF until it was formatted correctly. The educator would show them an assignment for homework to be completed outside of class. The assignment would call for them to open a series of PDF files, edit the content, and practice these skills on their own until they were able to perform the tasks as they would on a certification exam.
An educator following the FLIPP approach, on the other hand, would teach it this way:
Find and assign the appropriate course and lesson from the Microsoft IT Academy eLearning library that shows students how to edit PDFs with Word. Using the Lesson Plan as a guide, the educator might also include online tutorials from Microsoft, a page from the Wiley Microsoft Official Academic Courseware (MOAC) book, or a page from a book sourced by searching through the eReference library. The educator might develop his or her own narrated screen recording of the process, as well. Students could study these resources on their computer, on their mobile device, or on their tablet.
Let students work with resources for homework. The educator could simply use the reporting capability in the IT Academy eLearning system to track the usage and progress of students and utilize the other resources as optional learning materials or post as assignments in an alternative Learning Management System. The educator might additionally assign students some simple editing exercises.
In class, the educator presents them with some difficult PDF-editing projects, which call for full mastery of the skill. These projects may be found on the IT Academy member site, in the MOAC curriculum, sourced from other educators, or created from scratch. The educator observes the students as they work, helping them as necessary. The educator might pair a more advanced student to work one-on-one with a student who is having difficulty, or assign different parts of the project to a group who would work together to complete the project.
Practice their craft with many different examples and projects typically found in business, the arts, or any other real world scenario, and expect that by the end of the lesson, each and every student would be able to competently edit PDFs in a variety of scenarios.
Perform the PDF-editing task with the level of competence required on the certification exam.
The Microsoft IT Academy benefits fit very nicely to a FLIPP environment. Many teachers have been adopting this approach with success - understanding the resources available, and that students may learn best on their own time, at their own pace, and when receiving teacher guidance when its needed most.
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Keith Loeber is the Director of the Microsoft IT Academy program for Microsoft, overseeing strategy, benefits, operations and policies. An 18-year Microsoft veteran, Keith has spent the last several years in education with the majority of his career focused on training and certification on Microsoft technologies.