Rationale | I. Flexible Learning Spaces | II. Learning Community | III. Intentional and Incidental Learning | IV. Personal Learning Network (PLN) | Video Archive | | Open Courseware | Hashtags


Expressed as the four pillars of the flipped classroom, I list below how I frame the four facets of a flipped classroom: flexible learning spaces instead of flexible environment, learning community instead of learning culture, intentional and incidental learning instead of intentional learning, and purposeful learning that reveals itself in the form of a personal learning network (PLN) instead of professional educator.

I. Flexible Learning Spaces

Flexible learning spaces relate to one of the four aspects of differentiated instruction: learning environment. Differentiating learning environments offers flexibility to learners as to when and where the educative experience might take place. As with any educational setting, the role of the educator in offering such flexibility comes from being a didactic leader (learner as dependent), facilitator (learner as independent), and coach (learner as interdependent). Thus, the value in thinking in terms of flexible learning spaces comes from the degree with which learners become aware of how these spaces facilitate the learning process, creation of products, and retrieval and creation of content based on a set of educational and personal learning objectives. Within a formal education context, the teacher-student relationship exists from having a perpetual feedback loop that is reciprocal and iterative that over time takes the learner from being dependent, to independent, to finally interdependent. With flexible learning spaces this process becomes more ubiquitous.

In a flipped classroom, having flexible learning spaces is using physical and online educational resources in a way that offers the greatest chance for student achievement.

II. Learning Community

A learning community stems from both student collaboration and student cooperation. Student collaboration focuses more on the we, and centers around having common goals and best practices. Collaboration requires participants reaching a consensus in how they work together and to what end. The downside to student collaboration is possible coercion. In contrast, student cooperation focuses more on the I, and is the assigning of individual responsibility around a particular task based on one's individual interests, strengthens, and background; then managing those individual interests, strengths, and backgrounds as a collective whole. When students cooperate, there may be a common goal that brings people together, but individual goals take precedent. A possible downside might include individuals putting self-interests over helping others. If the goal is helping learners become more interdependent, then student cooperation has certain advantages over student collaboration. Regardless, both have advantages and potential drawbacks, and both can be incorporated into the overall educative experience so that students learn to work in different ways.

From a pedagogical standpoint, educators need empathy, perspective, and metacognitive strategies to rallying together enough educational stakeholders to promote an open and engaging learning community.

III. Intentional and Incidental Learning

Within a formal education context, intentional learning oftentimes overshadows incidental learning. Understanding the written, taught, and tested curriculum (WTTC) means understanding the what, how, why, when, etc. of intentional learning. But the emergence and ubiquity of incidental learning in spite of the WTTC is also a key part of the flipped classroom. What might educators or students do when incidental learning emerges? How does incidental learning relate to intentional learning? How do intentional and incidental learning meet given a particular purpose?

Another consideration to intentional and incidental learning is making the distinction between behavioral and expressive objectives, the latter allowing for a more natural emergence of both kinds of learning. Intentional and incidental learning promote the development of different kinds of knowledge: declarative (knowing that...), tacit (knowing how), and strategic (knowing when and why), and collectively tend to be better articulated in terms of expressive objectives.

When thinking in terms of intentional learning, the tendency should not be that all learning processes follow some predetermined natural order. Perhaps there is room for both intentional and incidental learning to emerge.

IV. Personal Learning Network (PLN)

Professional learning is to become self-aware of one´s personal learning network in how it contributes to a particular experience, a self-awareness process that is purposeful. A PLN is having the self-knowledge of how learning spaces, groups and networks, and all forms of learning come together at any particular moment and how they adopt and adapt over time. A PLN is about understanding ideas (beliefs, opinions, thoughts, etc.), materials (objects, technologies, etc.), and human relationships (uni/bidirectional communication, strong and weak ties, etc.) not as isolated notions, but as associations that are influenced by each other. In a flipped classroom scenario, a learning network can be viewed at any level: individual, pairs, small groups, whole class, domains, institution, district, community, global, etc., but what makes a PLN personal is that the power and prestige (from a network and not a sociological perspective) are revealed through the understanding of how all ideational, material, and human nodes connect and surround the individual (e.g., student, teacher, etc.). Thus, the individual remains the unit of analysis but cannot be taken out of context. Understanding a PLN (i.e., a learning network at the individual level) becomes a prerequisite for understanding a learning network at the group level, for instance. Understanding a learning network at the classroom network is to understand the learning networks of various groups, pairs, and individuals, etc. Within the context of formal education, an educator has a responsibility in bringing about awareness of student PLNs as well as one´s own PLN. An expert learner is one who has a high level of self-awareness of a purposeful PLN at any given time and how it adopts and adapts over time - a PLN is at the heart of understanding what a flipped classroom is; how it is employed; and how effective, efficient, and engaging it can be for both learner and educator. In order to become adept, one needs to adopt and adapt a PLN.

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