Flipping the Pedagogical Model

Technology is enabling new models of teaching and learning. Educators are acutely aware of a disconnect between the way 21st century students access and interact with information in their everyday lives and how it happens in the classroom.

International Symposium on Disrupting Higher Education

International Symposium on Disrupting Higher Education

Outside of the classroom, students use technology in a non-formal way to actively pull information on topics which are of interest to them. As a result, they engage with and are more likely to learn from the information. In the classroom the teaching approach is still primarily a didactic approach which pushes information to the students; disempowering them in terms of active, self-directed learning. Educators are increasingly looking to new, technology-enhanced models of teaching and learning to engage their students and to enable educators to focus on the development of higher order skills such as problem solving and critical thinking.

The Flipped Classroom is one such model of teaching and learning that is currently receiving a lot of attention. At a recent symposium on online higher education – Disrupting Higher Education – held in the Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin, Professor Simon Bates of the University of British Columbia spoke about the application and benefits of the approach in Physics teaching. He also discussed how technology in general, and MOOCs in particular, are driving and enabling new models of teaching and learning such as the Flipped Classroom.

With a Flipped Classroom approach, the usual teaching and learning model is flipped or inverted. The initial learning happens in advance of students coming to class as a result of ‘research’, inquiry-based homework set by the instructor. Resources relating to the homework are made available to the students. Students come to class ‘primed’ for consolidation and higher order learning the following day. Class time is used as an opportunity for discussion, practice activities, guided reflection and for the educator to provide targeted learning interventions.

While there are many pedagogical benefits to adopting the Flipped Classroom model of teaching and learning, research is needed as to the appropriate deployment of technology within this model. ALMANAC, one of our current projects, is researching the effectiveness of innovative technologies in supporting and potentiating the Flipped Classroom model of teaching and learning. The technology outputs will be trialled in schools within a Flipped Classroom context. As part of the research, the effectiveness of the Flipped Classroom approach will compared to traditional teaching and learning approaches.

Developments in technology and the enthusiasm with which 21st century learners are embracing it is prompting  educators to rethink existing pedagogical models. However, we should be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater; it’s not about replacing existing models with technology, rather it’s about identifying appropriate 21st century pedagogical models in which technology plays a pivotal role in fostering active, more engaged learning.

Lynda_BlogAbout the Author: Lynda Donovan is the Pedagogical Lead at the Learnovate Centre. Lynda ensures that the Centre’s technologies are deployed as part of innovative learning environments designed to enhance learning, address industry challenges and provide competitive advantage to the Centre’s industry partners.

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New Office Space!

Learnovate Centre Sign

The first thing you see when you arrive in the new entrance!


Following a 12 week refurbishment project (delivered on time!), we have now moved into our new office space in Unit 28 of the Trinity Technology and Enterprise Campus.

It’s a bright, spacious and productive work space with a vaulted ceiling – the open plan area is occupied by the core Centre staff, plus the researchers from KDEG/CNGL.  We have a small number of spare desks to accommodate visiting researchers from our partners in TSSG, DERI and Clarity/Smartlab.  We can also accommodate up to 24 visitors in the purpose-built seminar room, have a break-out area for informal meetings and a couple of small private meeting rooms.

Here are the before and after pictures, looking directly across the space to the vertical windows where the new seminar room was planned to be … and now is!  Come and visit us …

Before refurbishment

The view across the space after the site had been cleared prior to the refurb

After refurbishment

The same view, with the refurb completed



BETT 2013 at the ExCeL Centre

The annual BETT tradeshow took place from the 30th January – 2nd February 2013. This year the event moved to a new home, ExCeL Centre, London and attracted around a whopping 30,000 visitors. With just over 700 exhibitors there were technologies on show to address needs in schools, higher education, and corporate training.

BETT 2013 photo

CC Attribution: Danny Nicholson

As well as the tradeshow, the BETT Arena featured talks from renowned experts across all areas of learning. The talk by Michael Levine of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop highlighted how technology is redefining social interaction and learning within families. An interesting read on this topic can be found in the New York Times article “Quality Time, Redefined”.

Another interesting talk was given by Daphne Koller, one of the founders Coursera – a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) provider. Of note was how Coursera are integrating personalisation into their courses to get learners the content they need.

BETT 2013 presentation

CC Attribution: RSLN

In parallel to the main tradeshow, three conferences were run as part of the BETT offering. This year a new conference, Learning at Work, was launched addressing corporate training. The talk by Nick Shackleton-Jones (Group Head of eLearning Leadership Development & Talent, BP) gave an insight on how technology can help an organisation to handle the on-boarding of 6,000 new employees per year. Another interesting talk was given by Myles Runham (Head of Online, BBC Academy) on how internal training is managed at the BBC. The key points related to how the learners should be in control of their learning and technology solutions should cater to their expectations. As these expectations are built through the personal use of online services, the use a corporate login and portal are a dated approach. Moreover, the importance of contextualising training videos with related content, as well as keeping them short (less than 5 minutes), was emphasised.

Learning Technologies 2013: the future?

As usual, there was a lot of really interesting stuff going on at this year’s Learning Technologies event. Too much, in fact, for one blog post – but a discussion about the future of technology and learning really caught my eye (and ear).

On day 2, Gerd Leonhard delivered the ‘disruption’ keynote: ‘Work Redefined – Learning Redefined’. I’m not going to try and repeat everything that was covered, but he presented a few interesting stats that illustrate just how quickly our space is changing:

  • 70% of Apple’s revenues come from products that couldn’t even be delivered only a few years ago
  • With content, even though the analogue to digital value reduction may be 50-90%, the number of potential new users is 50-100 times greater (and with lower cost of sale and distribution)
  • The gamification market will be worth $1.6bn by 2015

What does that mean for us? What are the big themes that we need to respond to as an industry-led research centre?

  • To stay relevant, we must embrace and design for social, local and mobile (SoLoMo)
  • Multi-platform, multi-channel is the new default – all content will be in the cloud anyway
  • In a world where abundance of information is inevitable, we need to find better ways to avoid ‘filter failure’ (ref Clay Shirky http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LabqeJEOQyI): curation, context and interface will become more crucial
  • We must build interfaces and technologies that enable us to become more human – it’s as much about ‘humarithms’ as algorithms
  • There is a danger of IP assumptions holding us hostage – why do we assume that protection of IP will yield something more valuable than open innovation?
  • The learning sector will become an ecosystem where centralised, decentralised and distributed models will co-exist – you can be a wheel in the ecosystem, but you can’t be the wheel

You can follow Gerd @gleonhard or access his material here http://www.slideshare.net/gleonhard