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We learned that “the world was flat” from Thomas Friedman in 2005 and recognized the need for adopting an increasingly global perspective in education. In the last decade, even as we might question some changes wrought by the digital age, we have had to face the hard facts of our changed and changing world. Old habits of mind die hard — especially for veteran teachers who have spent entire careers honing their craft. Alan November is fond of telling teachers that they are working way too hard, running in place to keep up with the latest research in order to spoonfeed an education to their students rather than teaching their students the skills needed to mold their own learning. In an asymmetrical fold the strata of one limb of the fold dip more steeply than those of the other. Meander loops of river systems often become isolated from the main channel by either a chute cutoff or neck cutoff.
Flipped classroom swaps what students do in the traditional classroom and what they do outside of class. If you’ve never heard of classroom flipping, the basic idea is that learning is done through work outside of the classroom, and understanding is gained through discussion, exploration activities, and collaboration within the actual classroom environment.
Personally, I love the idea of helping instructors flipping their classes (I also find flipped classes fun!). The technology that was available to us as children is certainly different than today, and one could argue that the technology in which you grew up with helped you develop your natural ability to gain understanding. By catering to what students already know, technology, creating course material that utilizes technology can inspire students in ways you might not thought possible. By giving students the material outside of class, and maybe even making the homework fun, performing assessment and developing understanding in class will make better use of not only your time, but theirs as well. Shameless plug: Of course always come and see us at W&M classroom support if you have or need an idea to shake things up in your class! If anything, our tomorrow seems to be rushing at us with increasing intensity, before we have time to understand what’s coming, and soon it has passed into yesterday.


Thus, we must face an urgent obligation to stare down that future and figure out what it means for our current practice. Yet, it has only been in the past few years that I have learned to provide a structural narrative for my students, supplemented by practice in the skills required for independent learning, and let the students begin to construct their learning for themselves. The abandoned channel is called a meander scar and if these remnants fill with water, an oxbow lake will form. This differs from the old style of instruction in that student would attend a general lecture, be simply told the content, and then go home to try to gain understanding on their own. While I am mostly on the tech side of this initiative, flipping classroom instruction is proof to me that education is a full cycle, not a linear flow of imparting knowledge on students. Imagine students being able to take your lecture to the gym on their Kindle Fire, watching and listening to you while they pound out the elliptical trainer for an hour, or putting your course material on the big screen so learning can be a social gathering with their peers before the football game that comes on at 8:30. Rather than Johnny picking A, B, C, or D, ask him to speak about his thoughts on quantum mechanics and string theory. Platforms like SMS text polls allow students to text in their answers or responses to questions, with some services allowing you to record answers for assessment. With embracing this new idea, not only do we believe your courses will be more successful overall, but you’ll be more successful in reaching your students and building a professional and academic relationship with your audience.
As a result, we no longer have the luxury of settling into change before the future smacks us with something new yet again.
Thus, we realized that our relationship to the content we teach must change to account for the facts so easily accessible at our students’ fingertips. Marc Prensky told us a decade ago that our students, as digital natives, have leapt to doing new things in new ways. Now, take those children, let 15 to 20 years go by, and imagine they are today’s adult learners at the College of William and Mary, and ask them to sit in a verbal lecture without any interactivity. Ask a student to connect their iPad to the classroom display to work out a math problem, or my favorite, ask students to create something.


We learned about our “cognitive surplus” from Clay Shirky in 2010, who helped us see the potential for creative collaboration in a connected world, and we began to envision ways to aggregate our imaginations for the common good. If we do not, we risk leaving our students to figure out the world for themselves at a time when they may need us the most. Yet we teachers sometimes work ourselves into crazy contortions over the old things we think we can’t live without.
This is not saying that one generation is better than others but simply attempting to illustrate that learning and education is ever evolving, and in order to keep reaching deeper into the minds of students, we as instructors must evolve as well. You may be surprised to find out how many students want to get in on the conversation (especially if you give a participation grade). It could be a song, a video, a presentation, or even just a simple collaboration of what their idea of the media’s portrayal of genders roles are. This year, as I adopted Google Classroom, for instance, I could finally envision a nearly paperless learning space. As the instructor, you could of course ban the use of technology in your class, but many would argue you might lose a few more minds who are now choosing to zone out while you speak.
Now I ask myself why I have spent so much precious time on printing, collecting, and returning paper copies of essays (and asking students to spend time on this as well). As a result, I’ve begun to question holy ground: the writing process approach to teaching English.



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