Flatten the Classroom!

I had heard of flipping the classroom and know of the advantages that are offered with adopting this method of teaching. There seems like there are always new 'Buzz Educational' words cropping up and I was introduced to a new word this morning while conducting my morning reading (referenced below). The concept of ‘flattening the classroom’ was an ideology that I had never heard mentioned before and I thought that I would post an entry on what this style of teaching encompasses according to the philosophy of 'theworkpad'.

Flattening the classroom as the name suggests is about removing the walls that surround the typical classroom and expanding the minds and creativity of learners. Often classrooms can be considered as boxed thinking and with technology used purposefully, the classroom walls are removed and students become increasingly connected to the world around them to aid their own learning and education.

I remember when I was at school our class were provided with the names of students from overseas. We were each given a name and were told we needed to write a letter to the name of person were were given. This ‘pen-pal’ was someone to whom we needed to write. The idea was used by numerous schools to achieve ta sense of globalisation, however, the fact that I cannot remember who I wrote to and also in what year level I was involved in this project probably proves how ineffective the learning was.

The concept of flattening the classroom has five main purposes. The first objective is to saturate learners with Information. Location is the second principle of flattening the classroom. Generation, Communication and Time are the final three aims of flattening the classroom.

Students experience the flattened classroom!

Information – Traditionally teachers and textbooks have been the main source of information within the classroom. This approach is farce as there is welfare of information and knowledge that exist outside the classroom and it is importing for students to learn how to tap into these resources. One way of doing this is to educate students in the use of RSS feeds and how to receive information from people that are generating information that concern a topic that they are personally interested in or will assist with their own project and assignment work. Another method that students can learn is to use the hash tag and connect with communities that are posting information on certain topics. Twitter is a great tool for finding discussions on relevant issues.
Location – Often the idea of globalisation is over emphasised and students miss the foundational principles of connecting with their local community. Students need to become aware of the history within of the local area to respect the land of the indigenous people as well as the customs and traditions of the local area. Students can connect with local libraries; participate in campaign and issues that are impacting the local economy and people. Beyond this students can learn about their state and country and connect with the people at these various levels. Outside of the nation, students can become aware of other countries and learn about their customs to develop a deeper awareness of culture, traditions and faiths. Technology can be used to create an understanding of location and its relevance to their lives and how they are.

Generations – Technology breaks down the walls of generations and enables children to network with others they will have experiment, wisdom and skills beyond their years. Students can learn about history and use technology to record these stories in multiple formats. Having an understanding of the pas can improve the future and make students aware of the various strategies that need to be adopted to reduce carbon footprint and improve standard of living. Furthermore, technology enables classrooms to connect with experts by using webinars and Skype to impro9ve their self-awareness and understanding.

Communication – Email is the basic form of communication and there are other means by which students can communicate with others. Students can learn about wikis and blogs and others forms of communication that are used to address an audience. Social Media can be utilised as a means of developing connectivity and allowing students the opportunity to communicate with peers, people in various locations as well as people of different generations.

Time – Technology can be used to flatten the classroom and create more time to complete other work, tasks and projects. Using apps and various programs may improve productivity and performance. In affect the self-esteem of students should improve and new relationships will be form. Technologies will allow students to generate their own voice and share ideas and opinion that are informed and supported by research. In time, the students will become a source of information that others will depend on and so the cycle of knowledge continues.

Flattening the classroom is perhaps not new. Having ‘pen-pals’ is an old paradigm, but, perhaps we can adopt its foundational principle by connecting with others and share information and knowledge. Technology allows multiple connections and allows the walls of the classroom to fall as the teacher becomes more of a facilitator of information than the gatekeeper of truth.


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