I’m still brooding over the issue of flipping lectures as discussed here. Having discussed some related issues with a couple of handy colleagues, I’m struck (yet again) by the quantity of reinventing the wheel that goes on. Open education resources are a good thing…aren’t they? I use videos and stuff from the net in teaching a fair bit but I mostly feel like I’m cheating if I point my students to someone else’s screencast. On the other hand, I feel just fine pointing them towards the Periodic Table of Videos or the like. Perhaps it’s because those have content that is hard to reproduce and are produced to unachievable standards where as screencasts I should be able to do, right?
So as a ‘thought experiment’ for now, would it be possible to flip some of my lectures using freely available resources? That has to break down some significant activation energy type barriers to getting people to do it. What are the most likely problems?
1. Are there sufficient resources out there to cover the topics I need to cover?
Probably! For some of the ‘common’ courses I’d imagine there is nearly enough material out there. Probably a few gaps but those could be worked around. Enough isn’t the same as good enough so I’d expect to spend quite a bit of time viewing the resources and fitting them together into a patchwork course. I would imagine that I’d find sufficient high quality resources to flip some of the course. But is it going to come across as strange to the students? And are the resources always available or are they likely to be taken down?
2. Are there substantial differences in content (e.g. conventions, terminology) that make the resources available inappropriate?
For some topics I can see this would be a real problem. I might find some great resources on organometallics but find they use the ‘wrong’ method of electron counting for a good fit with our course. Perhaps the content is skewed in a way that doesn’t fit with my learning objectives. I dislike having to tell students to avoid sections of the textbook so telling them to ignore bits of the videos may cause me issues. So I probably need bespoke content at higher levels but for first year type content there may be sufficient and suitable resources.
3. How would the students ‘feel’ viewing a series of videos and screencasts delivered by strangers to them?
This is the wooly and important question, and one I can’t answer until I give it a go. As I see it, flipping hinges on the commitment of the students to do the pre-class activity (or to very rapidly understand that need in the first class). Are different voices and styles of content off-putting or more engaging? Sometimes hearing the same stuff in two different ways (mine and the screencast resource) could be beneficial. Or it could confuse. I’d probably have to plan some evaluation alongside to figure this one out.
Is it do-able? At this point I think I’ll add it to this summer’s to-do list and give it a go. The challenge: can I find sufficient resources to flip a few sessions of a first year transition metal course? I should note that I have full lecture recordings for this and last year’s course but am still not particularly happy with the structure and order of content. I could edit them down into screencasts and perhaps that’s as good buffer to have right now – I can supplement what I can find with some of my own stuff as needed.