RMIT Vietnam NewsFlipping tasks, not classes

Flipping tasks, not classes

Monday, April 27, 2015 - 14:40
English Language Educator Robert Ongcoy

English Language Educator Robert Ongcoy is on a mission to flip.

“That is, educator expectations and apprehensions about blended learning,” he added.

Having just delivered a presentation on the topic at the second RMIT Vietnam Teaching and Learning Showcase at Saigon South, Mr Ongcoy said he hopes he’s begun to do just that.

“The buzz words floating around teaching circles are the ‘flipped classroom’,” he explained.

“It’s a form of blended learning based on a simple premise: students receive teacher instruction before class online, and do ‘homework’ in class.”

This iteration of blended learning attracts educators with equal measures of curiosity and trepidation.

But Mr Ongcoy’s message is simple: learning first; tool second.

As an educator for RMIT Vietnam’s Centre of English Language, Mr Ongcoy carefully selects task-based learning activities for his Intermediate Level English class and then modifies to better align with the learning outcomes of the course.

Why task-based activities? 

Mr Ongcoy said it fosters experiential learning, or learning by doing, which is an effective face-to-face learning experience for students.

“In our English classes, we see our students 20 hours per week,” he said.

“If we tried to flip all four hours of content each day, what would we do with the class time?”

Once he identified and modified the tasks, Robert differentiated between what students needed to know versus what they needed to do. 

By selecting a few online tools, he moved the 'need to know' online, so that students could spend more time on the task.

But was it a success?

His answer is an unequivocal yes.

“We shifted learning into online space,” Mr Ongcoy said.

“Students saw the purpose of their weekly learning activities and they demonstrated autonomous learning practices. 

“We shifted learning online and gained time,” he said.

“It’s a lot like the proverb about giving the man the fish.

“When we shift time towards student-centered learning, we’re allowing them to learn how to catch it.”