Channel Change: A flipped classroom for technology skills?

(COETAIL Course 5 Project Proposal)

Hey folks,

I’d like to share a little project idea with you. I’ve been thinking hard about what strengths I bring my classroom and how students respond to the lessons we do at school. How might I leverage these strengths to further engage students and challenge myself as a learner? First, I needed to address two issues that have been nagging me throughout my Technology Coach journey.

One: I’ve received feedback from a wide variety of teachers in informal discussions as well as formal feedback during workshops I’ve run and attended such as Tosca Killoran’s Rebrand session at this year’s Learning2.Asia conference. One of the things that stuck with me was repeat feedback that my enthusiasm for the work that I do doesn’t always come through on first inspection of my digital footprint, my previous websites and portfolios being carefully cultivated as professional self promotion rather than a window into my work. It just wasn’t “honest”, wasn’t “me as a teacher”.

Two: I’ve been struggling with some consistent student feedback: there is never enough time in school for their favourite technology skills and tools. Since we follow a technology integration model at our PYP school (something I am a firm believer in), it means that technology is rarely the focus of a lesson… merely the medium we use to inquire into it. That focus has drawbacks for those who wish to take their experience further, extend their learning, or improve its quality by exploring more deeply into these tools. I am frequently contacted by students and parents requesting assistance to access these skills and tools outside of school. Though they are optional for our learning engagements, I am loathe to see eager students limit their passion for learning to a single area.

My  students have a bubbling passion for internet video. They want to learn more about the games and apps we use at school. They want access to them at home and continue to question me about them long after units and planned lessons have moved on to other things. I’ve been asked more than a dozen times this year if I have a YouTube channel, and those that have sought me out on YouTube are disappointed at my boring videos about pedagogy. Here is something that students and parents want, and time-poor teachers can use, that represents my true passion for educational technology… and it’s staring me right in the face!

With a YouTube channel featuring content supporting in school learning, I can flip the skills-based technology focus to YouTube, freeing up more time for student inquiry at school, and providing resources for student extension and parent involvement. I can bring my teaching style and enthusiastic voice to these projects, and hope to create entertaining content as well as resources for learning. I’m pretty excited about it.

But I do have a few concerns!

I’m an amateur video editor, and ran into lots of delays and troubles with a recent video on Games-based learning, so the process I use for creation and the quality of my content needs a significant boost to be engaging. Engagement is key, and if the videos don’t cater to student interest, their optional nature in our curriculum can leave a lot of my time and effort stagnating on the internet. With such a public performance-based concept, what is it going to say about me to others, including future schools or employers? How to balance relevance to in-school learning with external entertainment?

This concept requires a shift in my pedagogy as well, in that I am used to teaching with a focus on unit content rather than tech skills, but it’s also an opportunity for me to “geek out” a bit with kids on topics that we don’t normally have time to explore. The biggest shift here will be finding a balance between entertainment and education, an act that is necessary to engage students who will not be required to use this additional learning to be successful in the school curriculum, even when it can elevate their performance.

I’m excited. I’m intimidated. I’m going more public than ever before. I’ve tried to fit this ongoing, multi-grade, multi-unit plan into a UbD planner to provide an overview of goals and learning outcomes within a six-week trial framework. I’d totally owe you one if you had time to give it a glance, and leave me some feedback on this overview in the blog comments.

(Link to Course 4 UbD Project Planner – Draft: Channel Change)

Is it worthy of a COETAIL final project? Do you think this will enhance student learning? Do you think a flipped classroom for boosting skill can help tech integration in the long run?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!


Follow @matthewdolmont

3 Replies to “Channel Change: A flipped classroom for technology skills?”

  1. Hello, Matt.

    You’re brave. This is a bold choice—but incredible. I love your first two understandings, that learning can happen anywhere, and that there is more to a lesson than fits into class. This is true for so many lessons, and it’s great that you are building it into your UbD. I like the autonomy you are affording learners.

    I don’t teach the younger grades, so forgive me for what may be a silly question. Will you focus the grasps to explore as a collective what “useful” might be? Or is this structured to be part of the inquiry process?

    The green screen project seems like so much fun. Hopefully your students (and their parents) will appreciate that you are also learning throughout this process, and that it is all a work in progress. I appreciate that in your earlier (but added later) post you made about game-based learning you are able to express the challenges of the learning process. I don’t quite agree that you look like a zombie, but I admire your humility. It will be great once your channel is up and booming to reflect back on your earlier videos as a place marker of how far you’ve come.

    I look forward to following your project—it is an exciting endeavor. Best of luck to you, and please keep us posted on how it’s coming along.



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