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The Changing Face of Learning

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I thought this was an interesting article by Tridib Roy Chowdhury Senior Director of Products, Adobe - See more at:

The explosive growth of the internet is turning the traditional classroom on its head, since information is now freely available and easily accessible. The classroom is no longer the single source of knowledge, though it remains a very important one.

Students are speaking up
Students are clearly telling educators that precious class time should not be wasted providing them with information that they can easily get elsewhere. Class hours could be utilized more effectively to help them resolve doubts arising out of the information they are consuming elsewhere, typically online. Students expect their teachers to help them evaluate and analyze alternate views, equipping them to connect the info dots, thereby addressing the analysis-evaluation-creation phases of Bloom’s taxonomy. This is the essence of a Flipped Classroom, where classwork goes home and homework comes to class.

Popular channels of information consumption
We know that the internet has taken over as a primary source of knowledge for everyone, including students. Eighty percent say they source information online, with TV being the other main source; print as a source is negligible. Which begs the question, why are we delivering classroom information through a face-to-face channel, and not online?

Creation: the ‘first mile’ problem
Teachers are experienced in creating courses, so how much of a problem can creation of eLearning be, right? Actually, the harsh realities of digital formats and remote deliveries mean that educators from traditional backgrounds tend to get intimidated when converting their classroom content into an ‘e’ format. The challenges of capturing and holding learner attention multiply when the tasks need to be done remotely. How do you retain the personality and passion of the educator without his or her presence? Educators are subject matter experts without the time, multi-media skills and funding to create engaging eLearning experiences. They need tools that will leverage their existing abilities and workflows to deliver in a new domain.

The good news is that many companies are developing tools to meet the needs of modern-day educators. Adobe Presenter, for example, makes the process of creating professional-quality video content easy, affordable and superfast.

Engaging in isolation
It is well-established that students consume information at varying rates. The Flipped Classroom facilitates learning by allowing each student to absorb knowledge at their own pace and place, asynchronously.

This imposes its own demands. Content, which was previously consumed in the social environment of a traditional classroom, will now be consumed in a relatively isolated home setting. If a student does not understand something, how will the teacher come to know in a flipped world? If they don’t know, how will they intervene to bridge gaps in comprehension? Who has learned what? Unless we can provide answers to these questions, planning classroom activities in the Flipped Classroom model will remain ad-hoc and a priori – similar to the traditional classroom model. Can technology help?

"Class hours could be utilized more effectively to help students resolve doubts arising out of the information they are consuming elsewhere, typically online."

Flipped content created with Adobe Presenter allows students to collaborate with each other and pose questions to the teacher. Over a period of time, all these questions can be compiled into a question bank. Using Natural Language Processing (NLP) techniques, technology will then be able to deliver answers to students on a real time basis, just as in a physical classroom.

Give and take
For any intervention to work, students must participate. While a student harboring doubts will probably ask a question, it is important that the student with the answer takes time to respond. Mere encouragement is not likely to make this happen, we need to incentivize more knowledgeable students to participate and share. Tools need to do more than just a great job in the creation of content; they need to deliver on the needs identified above.

It is time that educators and institutions looked at the Flipped Classroom model seriously as it is a clear win-win situation for both students and teachers. Technology is there to help.

Tridib Roy Chowdhury