Pedagogy, Instructional Strategy and Backward Design for a Flipped Classroom

Any course first starts with a curriculum – what needs to be taught in the course and with how much time and score weightages need to be structured into the curriculum. The curriculum is then becomes a guideline for teachers. (What I write in this blog is specifically using my experience in teaching-learning of science using 21st century tools and technology.)

Curriculum is all about what we are going to teach. Pedagogy is about how we teach it.

Curriculum and Pedagogy

When implementing some curriculum content, it is important to use a range of pedagogical strategies depending on the learners’ abilities, the type of content to be taught, and the time allotted.

Instructional strategies are a subset of pedagogical strategies. Instructional strategies include all approaches that a teacher may take to actively engage students in learning. These strategies drive a teacher’s instruction as they work to meet specific learning objectives and goals. Effective instructional strategies meet all the development needs of the learners in the class – it is closely associated with the leaning experience, and can be measured by assessments of students.

Some of the instructional strategies can be as follows:

  1. Presentation – direct talks and lectures
  2. Exhibits and demonstration
  3. Drill and Practice, tutorials (problem based)
  4. Games and simulations
  5. Role-playing
  6. Discussions and debates (Socratic method)
  7. Hands-on (inquiry based)
  8. Field Trips
  9. Case Studies
  10. Internships

Each of these instructional methods or teaching solutions falls into 4 types: direct, indirect, interactive and experimental. It is important to note that instructional methods or teaching solutions will also depend on the types of content to be delivered (facts, concepts, principles, etc.)

In terms of the ed-tech environment of the 21st century, these 4 methods of instructions can be said to be

  • Receptive instructionis characterized by a lecture or an Internet site where the student is merely provided with information. (indirect method)
  • Directive instructionis characterized by a computer-based tutorial where information is presented, the student responds, feedback is provided and this tutorial learning cycle is repeated. (direct method)
  • Guided Discoveryis characterized by a computer simulation that allows the student to manipulate some device or environment. (interactive method)
  • Exploratory instructionis characterized by an open learning environment in which the student is provided a rich, networked database of information, examples, demonstrations, and exercises from which the student can select whatever is appropriate to their current needs and mental models.  (experimental method)

Effective implementation of any of these teaching methods will depend on assessment strategies as well. When planning, it is advisable to use a ‘backward design’ since method curriculum, pedagogy (teaching and instruction) and assessment are all interlinked.

There are four steps that need to be followed:

  1. Begin with the curriculum in order to determine the desired outcomes from the learning objectives.
  2. Create formative assessments that can indicate to you if learners are learning or otherwise!
  3. Then create summative assessments to map the learning objectives.
  4. Lastly create a pedagogical instruction that is required in order for the learners to meet the desired outcomes. If not change your instructional approach.

The backward design is very useful for a flipped classroom!

The flipped classroom is a pedagogical model in which the typical lecture and homework elements of a course are reversed. Short video lectures are viewed by students at home before the class session, while in-class time is devoted to exercises, projects, or discussions.

The value of a flipped class is in the repurposing of class time into a workshop-style interaction where students can inquire about lecture content, test their skills in applying knowledge, and do hands-on activities. During class sessions, instructors function as coaches or facilitators, encouraging students in individual inquiry and collaborative effort.

Although the idea of a flipped classroom is straightforward, an effective flip requires careful recording of lectures, , and out-of-class and in-class elements must be carefully integrated for students to understand the teaching/pedagogical model and be self-motivated to carry on to learn.

Flipped Classroom

Schools and Colleges of the Future

The teaching profession is in a complete limbo……………! Why? There are many reasons for it. Some of them, as I see and experience in India, are:

1. It is a poorly paid profession. It is almost looked down upon, as non-existence. In our societies, where power and authority means money, teachers are at the bottom!

2. It is taken up by those who have no other options elsewhere in industries, very few are genuinely passionate about teaching (and are prepared to learn and upgrade their profession).

3. Quite a few teaching positions lie vacant due to various sorts of political and administrative meddling, therefore ad hoc teachers are hired on temporary basis; they can be hired or fired at will, and hence mostly filled with people (mostly women, unfortunately), who may treat this profession not as a hard core carrier option.

So what is the future of schools and colleges?

Wither chalk and talk? Wither brick and stick?

No, and there is hope! Smiley(And aren’t I glad about it!!)

There is hope because real teachers will teach and genuine students will learn!

But now it must be taken into account that the process of teaching- learning is changing rapidly in an era in which technology is changing everything.

For school levels – almost all sorts of topics are available on the internet. School curriculum designers can easily build a curriculum out of these internet resources for free! Many new technologies and tools (interactive animations, games, and problems) can absolutely help to make learning more engaging and more productive.

For college levels – it may be a little esoteric, but great content from various US colleges are available on the net (for example OCW from MIT, etc.) and again a curriculum designer can pick and choose what is available and build a curricula!

Teacher's role

A teacher can be viewed as a facilitator or a ‘filtrator’ (!!) who provides guided learning, and strategies for learning to be a skilled and competent professional.

Content and learning on the internet is bringing learners, teachers, and experts all together in a virtual learning space.  And the good thing is that everyone is benefitting!

It is changing the way we teach and learn.

I imagine the future schools and colleges to be like this:

1. Students accessing a lesson online (anywhere, even in a classroom). An admin or a teacher is monitoring everyone remotely, not necessarily in the class room. They provide adaptive learning components – to boost slow learners, and enhance competent learners.

2. Teacher or a facilitator comes in only during tutorials, problem solving sessions, lab work or for guiding a project. Teacher can assess a student’s progress and accomplishments and provide feedbacks.

3. School and college time is spent on other human social aspects such as elocutions/debates, some internal competitions, networking, sports, discipline, some social activities such as festivals, proms, etc.

4. Course content accessible to anyone with a computer and an internet can self-educate him/herself, appear for a standard exams and get a certification and a qualification!

This hopefully will bring down fees, and make education accessible to all………….that would indeed be a paradigm shift in education, and social change. There will not be any expensive and snooty college degrees for anyone – all will be equal (and in a way truly democratic)

I look forward to this future……………..

(Aside: when I see on the evening news about young children ravaged by war and displaced in refugee camps, the future schools and colleges that I mention here, is the only way to give them a chance in their lives!!)