I’ve been seeing an uptick lately in discussions related to the direction higher education is taking (or ought to take), what with the financial struggles schools are facing just to keep their doors open, pay cuts (or just not meeting the rising cost of living) for faculty and staff, etc. Just doing a cursory Google search brought up more entries than I wanted to deal with. Maybe it’s not really an uptick, I’m simply more aware of it now.
At any rate, I was intrigued some time ago by some of the ideas implemented by Mike Garver, a professor of marketing at Central Michigan University. While our fields differ, I can appreciate what he achieves by distributing mini-lectures electronically, and then using class time to apply or interact with the subject matter. I really think this sort of thing could work well in music theory. It, too, is an abstract, highly technical, jargon-filled field that can lose students fifteen minutes into the class period (even worse for those pesky 75-minute class sessions).
I was reminded of Mike Garver when I read this article recently by Robert Talbert. I hadn’t heard of recorded lecturing prior to reading about Garver back in November 2011, and here I find that it’s perhaps not as novel as I thought. It even has a label—the inverted classroom! Apparently there’s even a TEDtalk about it
One major difference implied by Talbert’s and Garver’s approaches is that it sounds like Garver divides what would normally be a class-long lecture into bite-sized pieces so that students can get through one before distraction takes over. Talbert doesn’t say what he does in the articles I’ve read, but I suspect he simply records a normal lecture.
Even though students seem to cling to the preconceived notion that lectures ought to be suffered through, I see a lot of potential in this format. I suspect that Garver’s approach has few balkers than Talbert’s by virtue of the simple fact that there are more distractions at home, so listening to a 50-minute lecture is more difficult to do than when one is sitting in a physical classroom. Mini-lectures help to mitigate that problem.
Another thing that Garver does (I don’t know about Talbert) is to insert a lot of humor into his recorded lectures. This is natural to some (usually those who in-person lectures are equally entertaining), and not to others, but I imagine it could only aid student acceptance of inverted classrooms. Dynamic teaching is always a good idea, no matter what the format.
Podcasting could lend itself well to recorded lectures. Recorded lectures could even be combined/embedded with digital textbooks. iBooks Author certainly lends itself to embedded media within the flow of text (see my thoughts on iBooks Author), and I imagine other ebook-creation software and formats do as well. Not being familiar with those others, I don’t know really know.
So it looks like it’s time for another poll that won’t actually effect change by makes us feel like our opinions count.