This is a really interesting example. In a case like this, an instructor might not ask students to put together something concrete like an imager right away. Instead, he or she could choose a complex calculus problem related to it, and have students work on it together during class time. This could, in turn, lead to discussions of how it might be applied, long before students would be expected to assemble something physical. Problem and inquiry-based learning can still be firmly embedded in theory. In the case of a flipped classroom, the difference would be that students would be expected to reason through it themselves (with the guidance of an instructor), and would be evaluated based on their ability to problem solve on their own.
But I don't buy this notion that the theory can be applied immediately. Sometimes it simply isn't so, but the theory must be learned anyway. Honestly, this topic seems to devolve into simplistic notions too often.
Here's today's example for me. I was watching this interesting piece on Russia Today, about how a research institute in Moscow is developing a cool holographic approach for heads-up displays. The holographic image is focused at infinity. They explained that this requires a film on part of the windshield, then a split laser beam that is used to project the image, and separately the reference beam, to the film. The driver would see the 3D image way further ahead, so the road doesn't go out of focus when the driver is reading the HUD.
This should be familiar territory for EEs, right? It's much like demodulating single sideband signals. But if you haven't learned complex calculus, the system appears to be black magic.
Now, how exactly would someone learn complex calculus at home one day, then go to the classroom the next day and expect solder together this holographic imager? (I know, a little overstated.) Some theory just takes a long time to master, and the soldering iron isn't part of the process.
That's why it's called "hard work." Sometimes, you just can't pretend that a daily dose of a fun lab is all it takes. The time spent on the theory has to outweigh the practical lab time many times over, if one expects to graduate in 4-5 years with that BS.
One of the basic flaws of teaching theory in classrooms is that , instead of concentrating on the the theories in vogue, many times the focus is put on the how a theory evolved - that long history makes learning theory a boring and fruitless exercise for the students.
For example when I was learning computers , the teacher would start from the time when ENIAC was designed . That kind of history of computers is worthless for an engineering student.
If the classroom theory is limited only to the currently in-practice theories, and if the history part ( the theories that were postulated and got rejected over time) is kept for the students to explore from the web content then a lot of useful theoretical learning can be achieved even in the classrooms and these theories can be immediately applied to solve the current real world problems by the students.
I love and strongly believe in aura and halo of university campus. Classroom is a small part of it. But interacting with friends and living together for four to five year is like knowledge exploration. You make life long pal and may be life partner. You discuss problem not only from your branch but from almost all other branches too. You mutually help each other and learn. You paly music and play games. Make fun and remember for life.
Online study is good sometime. But too much is hazardeous to once development.
Four years of engineering classroom in university are the most wonderful years of life.
I don't see this as a "flip" as such - it's too strong a term. It's maybe just altering the balance between theory and practical, although for students it's taking some of the theory part and doing it in their own time (I can see students groaning about that) so that there is more time for practical and one-on-one questions. It's probably a better use of the instructor's time - no standing at the front of a class and droning on when half the students aren't taking it in and the rest probably have "got it" already.
I've done a bit of correspondence learning recently and that's in much the same vein - I have to study the learning materials in my own time and submit assignments - but I have an 1-on-1 instructor available via phone or email if I have any queries. I get a supervised exam and maybe a practical session at the end which carries a fair bit of weight, so if I have not learned the stuff I will come short.
As above, I'd be happy with this model, and I think for good instructors and keen students it will work well. Lazy and disinterested students will find it a lot more work.
When you are in grade school, you have field trips, in which you learn about the real world and perhaps get some hands-on experience about what you have been reading in your textbook. Field trips were always flippin' awesome, except the part about getting back to the classroom and having to write a report on what you learned. Darn that.
It seems like having something analogous for higher level schooling is a good thing. Solder some components. Learn how to blow up a capacitor by exceeding its voltage rating. Go to a compliance testing lab and see how EMI or ESD tests are conducted. Help assemble a product. Learn about injection molding. Visit a power substation. All of these things contribute to a well rounded engineer. It could be a 1 credit class. It wouldn't overshadow the theory, but rather complement it. It would be separate from a senior project. Once you get a job, a good company might introduce the new employee to the different aspects of their operation. But some companies do not do this, and trying to learn more than the little bailywick you have landed in can be a difficult process as each segment of a company can sometimes be it's own castle with moat and drawbridge included.
Please, not another article about flipping the classroom. This idea is not a new one. Educators have been flipping the classroom for years; and educators have been mentors and facilitators for years. Oh, I forgot; now that we have digital videos over the Internet, we must come up with another term, but the substance of the package is the same. Well, I am so glad engineers did not flipped the classroom years ago. If they did, we would not have accomplished nor achieve all of the milestones that we have in the area of engineering and computer science. Good engineers, and the best one that I have met to date, are those that have received real-world, problem-based instruction. There's nothing wrong with the implementation of technology into the curriculum, but we need to make sure that future engineers develop those primary skills like problem solving, critical thinking and collaboration skills. Flipping the classroom is good for middle and high school students; but it falls short when it reaches the college level. I don't hear any MIT Professor talk about flipping the classroom or writing a textbook on this topic. Flipping the classroom is a model that doesn't work for every environment. But it is an option just to change the teaching environment once in a while. But please...
@Dave "these days training is "competency based" - as long as you demonstrate you're competent, you pass"
WPI had a required "Competency exam" that you had to pass to graduate. It was instituted around 1973 when the cirriculum changes to more of a project -based path.The requirements varied by department. In EE (no ECE at that time) you were given a design problem and sent home. The next day, you had a meeting with the chair of your review committee (3 professors). You handed in your design two days later. then a day or two after that, you met with the full board and had to defend your design. They were really looking to see how well you understood the basics and how well you could apply them.
I went through "The Comp" and passed on the first try (some needed 2-3 tries). Six years later, the exam was dropped and I agreed with that decision. The reason cited was that if you proved to could do the classroom work and your projects, you were good enough to graduate. In reality, all it did was give you a false sence of security when you screamed "I'm competent" upon passing. When you reached the real world, you realized that were not so competent after all.
As you've noted, dealing with those who "just show up" takes up valuable teaching time, and is annoying to other students. I'm not sure what to say about policies against asking disruptive students to leave, but I can say that many (not all) institutions have done away with attendance marks for this reason, so that no one gets marks for filling a chair. The old adage "You can lead a horse to water..." comes to mind. The best instructors out there will still have a handful of pupils who just aren't keen to participate.
The pass/fail system you mention is definitely related to motivating students. Although I'm not keen on making learning exclusively about numbers and grades, I do think it's necessary to have some sort of range in assessment. If an instructor makes criteria for grading clear before an assignment or project is given, and is consistent in their use of the criteria, then a student gets a better idea of how they can improve. There's never any guarantee that using a grading system will make all students want to do better, but at least those who put in the effort are recognized, and those who don't know where they've fallen short. As someone who's hired interns and recent grads, I don't insist on straight A's (if we get to see grades at all), but a consistenly good academic record does seem to speak to a person's work ethic. At the very least, it gives me a little more information than just pass/fail.
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