COETAIL  for  Kevin

4.3 Flipping and Gamifying

April 28th, 2014  |  Published in Online Education  |  2 Comments

Sahar Biniaz (Miss Universe Canada 2012) by Reza Vaziri, Flickr, Creative Commons

Sahar Biniaz (Miss Universe Canada 2012) by Reza Vaziri, Flickr, Creative Commons

I had a beautiful experience this week teaching and learning with COETAIL, many threads came together. This series of readings created the perfect storm, awakening me to the power of the flipped classroom and flipped learning. This is one of the most powerful, clear and succinct videos describing the flipped experience that I came across last week.





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I have begun to post my core Library Media Centre content on YouTube videos, flipping the classroom. My first lessons also applied a remix, so I can make the somewhat boring content – the Dewey Decimal classification system – somewhat more engaging. When I introduced the content and concept to my Junior High class, they viewed the first video and gave me a sincere round of applause! They understood the usefulness of this approach, which allows teachers to use class time for collaborative and to develop thinking and deeper understanding; the flipped approach also meets the needs of differentiation, as the above video amply illustrates.

Here is my first lesson on YouTube, which combines remixing, the area of content I just covered with the Junior High kids. Practice what you preach! I share the videos with the students via GDocs. Now, this video is just over 14 minutes long, but if you watch the first few minutes you will get the idea.


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I keep track of the tests on a leaderboard framed in the language of the hero’s journey, and students must advance by mastery, so a 100% score moves them forward; the leaderboard, an application of gamification supported by flipped instruction, represents a marriage of these two beneficial ideas. Mastery learning – used in Japanese martial arts training and common in the high performing Japanese educational setting – has a lot of merit and research support.

Intermind is a phrase coined by Harvard psychologists Wegner and Ward to describe the advent of a new intelligence in the world today, one not anchored to a physical brain but partnered with the Internet so that some of the brain’s resources may be directed away from simple memorization of facts and funneled into more rich, productive thinking and innovation. We do not lose our identity in this process but merge with something greater to form a transactive partnership not just with other humans but with an information source more powerful than any the world has ever seen (Wegner and Ward 2013, 61). In his 1993 groundbreaking book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, the great educator Howard Gardner pointed to this process, already in clear sight, in his use of the phrase “distributed cognition“, an extension of human intelligence through digital tools such as email and PCs.

In November 2009, 14 Danish upper secondary schools used the internet to complete written examinations; an audit in 2010 confirmed the success of the trial. Why don’t more schools do this? Our schools should resemble the outside reality, not exclude it. With this in mind, I allow the Junior High student to use the internet to complete their mastery Library tests. When I began teaching in 1991 on the First Nations’ Easterville reserve 500 kilometres north of Winnipeg, I used open-book tests; I have used them more recently too. Internet supported examinations are really an extension of open-book tests in the new setting, the teacher simply needs to adjust the test design to suit the circumstance.

Chess with Champagne! by Tristan Martin, Flickr, Creative Commons

Chess with Champagne! by Tristan Martin, Flickr, Creative Commons

Computer games are great, but sports like the Olympic Games (the gamification of physical activity) and board games such as chess have a head-start, and still provide a great learning platform in a gamified classroom. As David Price (2013) comments, the social media so alive on the web gain their strength from our human nature as social mammals; its all about the social opportunities provided through such media. Board games, common to my childhood, prior to the advent of PCs, work brilliantly in teaching by building student engagement and knitting the social fabric of a united, inquiry-based classroom while delivering key content; we should not throw the baby (traditional board and card games) out with the bathwater in moving towards the application of online or video games with educational value.

Stuart Brown M.D., author of ‘The Dangerous Book for Boys’ a best-selling book that advocates old-fashioned games for boys like folding paper airplanes, suggests that while video games do have some play value, a true sense of ‘interpersonal nuance’ can only be achieved by a child using all five sense in the real, 3-D world. (Henig 2008) Related is the concept of neoteny or the retention of childlike attributes in adulthood: wonder, idealism and experimentation. In the new online world, the Director of the M.I.T. Media Lab Joichi Ito advocates that we must retain such childlike attributes and also teach the next generation to retain such traits so they can help reinvent the future. (Ito 2011)

 Work Cited

Wegner, Daniel M. and Adrian F. Ward (December 2013) “How Google Is Changing

Your Brain” Scientific American. New York: Nature America, Inc. (58-61)

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  1. Hi Kevin,
    Great blog I like how you are weaving together the idea
    of flipping the class and gamification. I really enjoyed that video on being a librarian .
    During the edcamp in Tokyo
    at YIS the idea of flipping came up and with it came the idea of how
    long should a video be used for flipping. The group consensus was no longer than
    5 min or u lose the students. Basically like a short mini lesson.

  2. Profile photo of Kim Cofino Kim Cofino says:

    Great to see that you’re testing out all of these ideas! Thanks for sharing the flipped class video you created! I would echo Dwayne’s comment above, that the maximum length for a flipped class video should be no longer than 10 minutes – shorter being the ideal – short & to the point :)

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