These techniques can be helpful for flipped, blended, or hybrid learning.
This is a concern that is frequently cited when teachers start down the road to the flipped classroom. There are plenty of you working in districts where a significant portion of the population is economically disadvantaged, and most school districts have tight budgets, so this can be a very real issue. The good news is that many teachers have overcome this obstacle.
One Example from the Flipped High School
This excerpt is from the CNN article, “My View: Flipped classrooms give every student a chance to succeed”. Clintondale High School is a widely known flipped teaching and learning success story, they have flipped their entire curriculum across all grades, and they even purchased the URL “flippedhighschool.com”, where you can find them online.
“Our flipped school model is quite simple. Teachers record their lectures using screen-capture software (we use Camtasia) and post these lecture videos to a variety of outlets, including our school website, and YouTube. Students watch these videos outside of class on their smartphone, in the school computer lab (which now has extended hours), at home or even in my office if they need to.”
Clintondale is a very socio-economically challenged area of Michigan. Here you see the efforts they have made to ensure that students can get to the content.
Following are a number of approaches to addressing the challenge of providing access to digital learning content for students who may not have ready access outside of school.
Extra Access to Places Where they Can Access the Content
Another fundamental technique is simply to ensure that students have access to places in the school where they can watch or otherwise consume required digital content. This may be the library, a computer lab, or as in the case of Principal Green’s example, in his office if they have to! Work with your librarian, computer lab staff, etc., to make sure you know their hours and share these with your students. Consider asking for extended hours if you feel it is really necessary (what’s the worse that happens, they say “no”?). Remind everyone that we’re all there to help students succeed.
If Your School Blocks Access to YouTube
If this is a problem, consider:
- Embedding your videos in a web page that isn’t blocked (like Tackk, a wiki, or any of the many other education friendly free web tools out there).
- Store the video files on your school network. This can come with some challenges, but if that is the case, make sure your tech support folks are aware of it (so they can help you consider alternatives).
- Speaking of your tech support folks, pull them into the dialogue. They may have some great suggestions.
Deliver in Multiple Forms if Needed
The common way to provide access to videos or other digital content is via the Internet through some sort of web page or tool, but if students have trouble accessing the Internet outside of school, and if you know how to download your content as a stand alone file, you can try:
- Burning it on a CD or DVD
- Writing it to a jump drive
- Writing to an iPod or other MP3 player (maybe you can borrow one or have a few loaners available through your library?)
- Putting the files on some other computer or tablet that the student has access to
Of course, if you put files on a CD, DVD, or Jump Drive, the students will still have to have a computer to play them on where they will work (so, if your content were a PowerPoint file with embedded audio and they wanted to play them on a computer that doesn’t have PowerPoint, that would be a problem). Be sure to consider that.
The other thing to consider is time required – it may sound like this is a big burden to deal with, but you may not have many situations in which you need to do this, and once you get in the rhythm of doing it, it may be easier than anticipated.
Todd Nelsoney (a.k.a. ‘Tech Ninja Todd’) explained in his talk at FlipCon14 that he has had to use these types of approaches in a few cases and it has worked out fine. No one has lost or broken any of the loaner devices, and some parents eventually figured out how to get their students access, or get them into school early so they could consume the content at school without having to borrow devices.
Set and Reinforce Expectations
Finally, be sure to clarify expectations for your students. They are responsible for doing their homework and if they don’t they won’t be prepared to take part in classroom activities. Todd Nelsoney explained that he would have students who were not prepared sit in the back of the class during certain activities. This may seem rough, but he explained that the number of unprepared students quickly decreased after a few classes. Students need to learn to be responsible – don’t give in on that. Strive for a ‘no excuses’ approach. Your students will be much better off for it.
Of course, you also want to make sure parents understand what you are doing (the lower the grade level, the more essential that is) and what the expectations are. Lastly, make sure your administrators are aware, since they may hear push back from students and parents. But then again, managing expectations is another post entirely!
Have you dealt with this challenge? How has it worked out? Do you have some other creative suggestions? Tell us about it!