Written by Claire Hansen in Teaching Activities | 21.08.2017
Last week we kicked off a three-part blog series that follows the Shakespeare Reloaded project’s latest Imaginarium: the Teaching and Learning (T&L) Caskets Imaginarium. For more on the structure of this Imaginarium, please see this blog.
This week, we follow the discussions which centred around caskets 3 (flipping the classroom) and 4 (learning spaces).
This blog discusses both the essays covered during the Imaginarium, and workshop participant responses to these readings.
Casket 3: flipping the classroom
Reading: Magnus Hulten and Bo Larsson, ‘The Flipped Classroom: Primary and Secondary Teachers’ Views on an Educational Movement in Schools in Sweden Today.’ Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research (2016), online, 1-11.
This article explores the use of the flipped classroom in Sweden, and identifies three key objectives in this mode of teaching: student activity in class; educational change; and teachers' inclusion in a digital learning community (1, 4-5).
The flipped classroom - also known as an ‘inverted’ classroom - refers to teaching practice where activities that normally take place inside the classroom instead take place outside classroom time and space, and vice versa.
The flipped classroom is also often integrally connected to ‘the use of digital technology in the instructional activities outside the classroom’ (2). In general, the structure of the flipped classroom consists of 'the flip' - students being asked to watch a short video before class - followed by student activity and discussion in class. (4)
"The use of videos played a central role in the flipped classrooms that the interviewed teachers described. The teachers often referred to videos as “the flip” in the interviews. The video clip was something that students were supposed to watch before the lesson." (5)
The authors identify that the flipped classroom tends to be 'a grassroots movement' like blended learning, spreading from teacher to teacher rather than being implemented from the top down (2-3).
The article attempts to make a clear distinction between the flip and traditional homework:
Even though the flip always involves a task to be accomplished outside the classroom, it cannot be understood as a traditional type of homework. (5)
This was a point of discussion during the Shakespeare Reloaded Imaginarium workshop. Participants wondered whether the flip could be understood as ‘glorified’ homework, or whether students would see it as homework when it was actually preparing for the next day’s class.
One aspect that may set the flip aside from traditional homework is the role of technology:
Students’ access to digital technology seemed to contribute to these tasks, being seen as something different than traditional homework, as the technology is always there anyway (5).
The article also highlights that the focus should not be on the technology at the risk of overshadowing teaching (6). Technology, though, did play a large role in discussion during this Caskets Imaginarium workshop. Workshop participants mentioned the use of YouTube and Vimeo, and discussed how they created their own videos. Technology that was mentioned during discussion included Google Slides, Pinterest, Google Hangouts, SmartBook, EDpuzzle, Zoom, and webinars.
According to the Swedish teachers surveyed for this article, ‘flipped classrooms made students more active’. (7) This model of teaching and learning was identified as part of a change, ‘designing education for tomorrow’s schools’ (8). The article also emphasised the opportunity for teachers to be part of a ‘digital learning community’ (8). Facebook was identified as a location for teachers’ professional development.
Discussion during this Imaginarium centred on the role of the teacher and how is it changing, and the amount of flipping that is appropriate for a classroom. General consensus was that flipping should not be the dominant mode but integrated as part of a student’s learning experience.
Participants also discussed how flipped classrooms enable collaborative practice, as teachers can divide the work and provide diverse teacher voices to students via the flip videos.
The decline of reading and the issue of ‘social acceleration theory’ was also raised. Participants discussed whether students need higher levels of stimulation in the context of multi-screen environments.
Questions to consider:
• Is the flipped classroom new or have we been doing it all along?
• Are educators using digital learning communities for professional development? How is this changing the role of the teacher?
• Does the flip always involve video content?
• What will future pedagogy look like? (8)
Casket 4: learning spaces
Reading: Dianne Mulcahy, Ben Cleveland and Helen Aberton, ‘Learning Spaces and Pedagogic Change: Envisioned, Enacted and Experienced,’ Pedagogy, Culture and Society 23.4 (2015): 575-95.
How do spaces of learning impact pedagogic change? Often, ‘space is thought to be a change agent’ (576). In this essay for Casket 4, Mulcahy, Cleveland and Aberton argue that the field of learning spaces is under-theorised. The authors think about space ‘from a relational, sociomaterial perspective’, and the essay attempts to offer ‘less deterministic causal accounts of change’ (576).
The authors offer two perspectives on learning spaces and pedagogic change: ‘realist’ and ‘relationalist’ perspectives (577).
A realist perspective focuses on ‘entities’ rather than ‘relations’, and believes that ‘space has an essence’, (578) that it can be designed to suit what happens within it. In this view, ‘[a] causal logic is implied; space and its occupation/occupants are directly related.’ (578) This perspective understands space as physical, and in this view:
space is taken to be given in advance and appropriated or used by social actors. It is not taken to come into existence or ‘become’ with these actors. (579)
By contrast, a relationalist perspective understands that ‘space is socially constituted and space and time are conjoined.’ (579) The spatial and the social should be conceptualised ‘together’ (579). In this approach,
Learning spaces and the uses made of these spaces are created and sustained together; they are in a mutually constitutive relationship. (580)
In this understanding, the character of space changes with changes in the practice that occurs within it (580). Space is not static but ‘transient and social’. Educational spaces are created in textual, temporal and pedagogic processes (580). Spatiality should be understood ‘in terms of activity or practice’, not as a backdrop against which action takes place (580). Space is constituted through action (580).
The essay then considers spaces and pedagogic change in relation to the experiences of school leaders, teachers and students, and in relation to the practices of ‘envisioning, enacting and experiencing pedagogic change’ (583).
Learning, in this article, is understood to be produced ‘with space’ (589). Learning spaces are understood as ‘verb rather than noun, that is, as something we do (a matter of encounter), rather than something we have (a new learning environment, a finished design)’ (590).
During the Imaginarium discussion of this essay, participants raised the fact that certain spaces were required for certain lessons: for example, a science prac lesson requires a space with the right facilities.
One teacher reported how the inclusion of bean bags in a classroom dramatically changed the students’ relationship to reading in that space.
A music teacher participant at the workshop reported that the presence or absence of tables and chairs significantly changed the student experience in the classroom.
The relationship between digital technology and space was also considered: some educators in the workshop used apps to monitor students’ learning during class, creating a kind of mediated experience where physical space and digital space interact during the class.
Other points raised included the relationship between collaborative teaching, shared roles and open classrooms; the personality of teachers in relation to space; teaching outside – a step back in time or a break with tradition?; students’ home learning spaces; the need for routine and stability in space; the similarities between corporate spaces and learning spaces in schools; students’ ownership of space; and expansion of work spaces beyond traditional environments – to include coffee shops, stand-up desks, parks and so on.
Questions to consider:
• What do learning spaces look like?
• What does effective learning look like? (583)
• What counts as a learning space?
• Do your learning spaces get ‘rewritten’?
• How do principles drive change in learning spaces? (584)