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Thanks @Northcentral! Goal Accomplished!

It’s been a few months since I last posted a blog entry.  The end of the semester brought a flurry of deadlines.  I participated in the online ACS ConfChem where a paper about Flipping at an Open-Enrollment College was presented (more on this in upcoming blogs).  More importantly, I ran my statistics on the data from my dissertation study.  Over the summer months I revised the dissertation, and yesterday I defended and earned the title of Dr. Butzler!

When I began my journey towards a doctoral degree, I researched a variety of institutions.  I was looking for a degree in education with an emphasis in e-learning or online learning.  Most importantly, I needed a degree plan that was flexible and convenient and ONLINE.  Surprisingly there were few institutions that offered such a degree.  I found Northcentral University located physically in Arizona.  I was apprehensive, but as I dug deeper into the degree structure, I knew that this would be a good fit with my busy schedule.

I started in April of 2011 taking courses in 12 week intervals.  I could overlap courses; start a second at about week 4 of the prior course.  I could end early and pick up more classes.  A year and a half of course work was followed by comprehensive exams.  Then came the dissertation courses.  Although frustrating at times, this experience was PERFECT for my busy life… full time job and 4 kids!  I applaud Northcentral for designing and offering degrees that are tailored for adults like me.  I learned so much and as a result, I am a better educator and researcher.  And writer!

Online learning is not for everyone.  A doctoral degree is not for everyone.  You need to be self-disciplined and a self-directed learner.  Above all else, you need to be humble.  The mentors, chairs, and committee members know more than you.  Take their advice and learn from it.  Thank you Northcentral!  My goal of obtaining a doctoral degree has been accomplished!

#Flipclass Week 2: I am a Learning Coach

Week 2 of flipping…. I’ll start with Forensics.  I have two sections where one has 8 students and the other 15 students.  I feel the flipped classroom is working great in Forensics. I gave students the opportunity to give anonymous feedback on a note card.  Almost every student said they really liked it.  They liked being able to ask me a question immediately.  One student did not like that some students were not coming prepared.  From my point of view, students are spending more quality time answering the questions.  I anticipate huge improvements on test scores.

My gen chem class has a different dynamic.  There are 50 students in one class.  I also have students at VERY different math levels.  Some are in calculus while others just completed remedial math.  This has always posed a problem in Gen Chem.  Trying to teach to all levels is difficult.  In reality, I should adopt #Mastery Flipping, but the structure of higher ed is not conducive to this approach.  Labs are completely separate so students could not complete labs after mastering content.  I would like to hear from my #highered colleagues who have adopted the #flipmastery.

I also only meet with them two days/week.  This poses problems establishing a community of learners.  I just don’t get to know them very well and the students certainly don’t get to know each other.  As a result, I asked students to give their feedback on note cards.  I also asked them to tell me what concepts were still confusing (muddy points).

After reading their feedback, I was able to address most of the issues in an email.  Honestly, most students felt overwhelmed with what was expected of them.  Between “vodcast” assignments, vodcast quizzes, Connect homework, and a new LMS, they were disoriented and very concerned they were not going to be prepared.  I made a conscientious effort to streamline all assignments. This new way of learning AND teaching takes some time to adjust.  I have to admit I am spending MUCH MORE TIME preparing for the flipped classroom.  Lecturing is easy after 15 years.  All I had to do is walk into the classroom, pull up a ppt, and start talking.  As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t even need a ppt.

Today’s class went much better!  I gave them a chapter quiz.  I did a bit of “lecturing” and “flipping”.  Good questions were asked by students which allowed me to focus on the “muddy” concepts.  The students were loosening up and relaxing.  They seemed more willing to talk to their partners and help each other.  I am going to use the chapter quiz results to restructure the partners/groups.  OR I even thought about identifying some “peer tutors” and have them roam the room with me.

Overall, I think this is going to work.  I just have to be patient and not get frustrated.  I have to remain positive and encouraging towards my students.  I will take the approach of a motivating coach or parent.  Find the positive in each student’s progress and encourage them to find the learning that works for them.  You can now call me Coach Butzler 🙂

Week One #Flipclass

I am pleased with how the first week of flipping both forensics and gen chem went.

A few quick observations:

When I entered the forensics classroom on Friday, the students had already gotten into their groups and were working on the questions.  Wow!  (I wasn’t late either).  It was great to see them moving naturally into this collaborative learning experience.  I did ask them if they would rather work with a partner instead of groups of 4-5.  They all said that this arrangement worked.

Regarding my Gen Chem class…. I have found them to be mostly on task and prepared for this learning experience.  BUT, I had one student not able to find the vodcasts after I showed the class where to access them.  I also have several students who have not even logged into the LMS let alone view the vodcasts.  I think we need to realize that even though this is the “Net Generation” not all students are digital experts.  I made a quick Camtasia screencast that showed how to navigate the LMS to find the vodcasts.  Worked like a charm!

More to come this week as we enter Week 2 of flipping.

My First Blog…

I need more time.  I am pulled in different directions.  I want to collaborate more with my colleagues.  However, finding the time to do this is a daunting task.  Many of us email and text, but have little time to share ideas about what we do in the classroom.  Some of my best pedagogical practices come from sharing ideas with my colleagues.  It is my hope that through this blog, I can share current ideas found in educational journals, books, and blogs.

Here is my first link on the Flipped Classroom.  It is touted as a “magic bullet” for education.  It is founded on the constructivist theory of learning (more on that to come!!).  The Flipped instructional model moves knowledge acquisition to outside the classroom and moves engagement and collaboration into the classroom.  I conducted a pilot study in my organic chemistry class during the Spring 2012 semester.  It was a great learning experience which I plan to share.