Back to the Future (again): Return of the Master

As a former student of political science, one of the biggest lessons I derived from my studies is what I call the pattern of the pendulum. The swing from right (conservatism) to left (liberalism). “Forward” thinking to “back to basics.” I recently read an idea much in line with this pattern as it relates to emerging education theory:

One of the greatest shifts for teachers is moving into a role of mentorship and guidance, which has traditionally been the role of teachers throughout history.

If correct, it appears we are ready to move forward again by learning from the past.

Should we bring back the apprentice/master model that served us so well in the past?

The Flipped Classroom

Flip your instruction so that students watch and listen to your lectures… for homework, and then use your precious class-time for what previously, often, was done in homework: tackling difficult problems, working in groups, researching, collaborating, crafting and creating. Classrooms become laboratories or studios, and yet content delivery is preserved. One of the major, evidenced-based advantages of the use of video is that learners have control over the media with the ability to review parts that are misunderstood, which need further reinforcement, and/or those parts that are of particular interest.

Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D. offers us greater insight into how this approach works. Just because Sal Khan has made a splash putting video lessons online is no reason to think that we have arived t some new model. The quality of instruction, follow up, environment and experience within the all important “face time” takes on new meaning when teachers are there to extend knowledge, identify and correct misconceptions and misunderstandings and support for this new model for these new teachers (because most of us turn out to be new when doing new things in new ways).

Put another way still:

If kids can get the lectures, can get the content delivery and skill modeling as well (or often better) by computer lecture than in person, why do we have use precious class-time for this purpose?

Increasingly, education’s value-add is and will be in the coaching and troubleshooting when students are applying their learning, and in challenging students to apply their thinking to hands-on learning by doing and teaming… We know that collaboration is a critical skill set which can’t be developed easily either on-line or at home alone– let’s have students learn it with us in our classrooms. Let every classroom be a collaborative problem solving laboratory or studio.

Another great outcome of the online learning is the appearance of MOOCs. University lecturers can now be held more accountable to student standards. What I mean is this. University lecturers for years have been about talking to huge audiences. These people (the talkers) know their stuff, no doubt, but do they know anything about teaching? For that matter, do they care? Blah, blah, blah… go away. Now, as this BBC video suggests, if students don’t get it from these people, they can get it elsewhere and, (me now) increasingly, they will go there. Accountability to the consumers at last!

So how many people will actually sign up?

You might be surprised…

OK, my due diligence has been done referring to other people’s work. Perhaps this little video will add further insight into my take on the subject. This was an Elevator Pitch devised by Sunita Devadas, Susan MacIntosh and myself for our last COETAIL meeting, Saturday, My 19, 2012. I slapped a few iMovie touches on it for presentation here.

DISCLAIMER: This breaks many of the rules of good presenting. We read from the board, used too much text, frankly, we used creative commons images but didn’t cite them. We had a short time frame so did what we needed to to be prepared for the presentation. I just felt this would be a good way to use some of our work here in this post and start trying out iMovie on my new laptop. Enjoy.


About Sean Thompson

Sean is an educational technology specialist at Sacred Heart International School in Tokyo. He travels extensively across southeast Asia speaking, presenting and participating in discussions regarding the effective integration of technology in an educational setting. In 2014 he partnered up with DEEP Learning to support the team with the development, promotion and execution of professional development conferences for teachers worldwide. Sean is also an Apple Distinguished Educator, an International Baccalaureate Educator Network Workshop Leader , a Google education Trainer and a Certified Google Educator available for professional development at your school.
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1 Response to Back to the Future (again): Return of the Master

  1. The idea of a student as an apprentice is an interesting one. And I do think the issue of accountability for classes is an interesting one, in terms of MOOCs and Flipped Classrooms. I’m not in love with video lectures, but if they find a way that engages the learner, then we will be seeing something amazing

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