David Neville, assistant professor of German and director of language learning technologies, is working to maximize in-class, language-learning opportunities for his students through flipped instruction.
Flipped instruction, or a flipped classroom, is a pedagogical model in which a professor reverses his or her usual lecture and homework components in a class. For example, a faculty member who practices flip teaching typically introduces a new concept or topic by asking students to view short video lectures or to read course materials outside of class. Then, in-class time is devoted to discussions and engaged learning.
As for Neville, he recently began flipping his language courses, so he could provide more chances for in-class, language practice to his students.
“Because language professors typically teach on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, our contact with students is limited,” he said. “So, by asking students to watch YouTube videos outside of class and by offloading that type of instruction, it allows us to maximize the amount of time we have in class to practice. By flipping our classes, it allows us to be efficient because we are not wasting time in class rehashing grammar.”
Neville created a
YouTube channel of instructional grammar videos for his students, so they can view clips to learn more about the language. At the time of publication, Neville’s channel had 31 videos and 108 subscribers.
The channel hosts both short and long instructional videos, with the shorter videos averaging between two and four minutes in length and the longer clips averaging between eight and 10 minutes in length. Each video focuses on one learning objective, and in order to accomplish that objective, professors lead students through the process of foreign language construction.
“I encourage my colleagues to break each video into granular sections to make them as simple as possible,” Neville said. “It’s best to spread a simple idea out over several slides.”
Because of the universal availability of the instructional videos, Neville feels his students are able to benefit from these resources regularly.
“Because [the videos] are accessible 24/7, they help to minimize cognitive overload because students can revisit the videos as often as they’d like,” he said. “[The videos’] flexibility is their strength. As long as you avoid including too much information and design them well, they can be very beneficial.”
Because of the channel’s international reach, too, Neville has received feedback from individuals both inside and outside of the Elon community. He said, mostly, viewers have responded positively to the content.
“Not every student uses all the resources available to him or her, but some have said, ‘Dr. Neville’s online videos literally saved my grade,’” he said. “Generally, the feedback has been very positive. Students seem more comfortable clicking on videos. I don’t see these clips as things that will replace me but as tools that will augment students’ learning styles.”
Neville said flip teaching has allowed him to improve his lesson plans, too, as he can now assess students’ understanding of the material by administering short assessments of three or four questions to them online. Then, after analyzing the results of those assessments, Neville constructs his lesson plans to address students’ weaknesses.
“We can look at the data and gauge the pulse of the class,” Neville said. “We can see where the most problems are through evidence-based data online.”
If you are interested in flipping portions of your own course and would like to learn more about this model of teaching, contact Teaching and Learning Technologies at 336.278.5006 or firstname.lastname@example.org.