Reverse learning – a structured approach to blended learning
Bhavik Patel, PABS (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Motivation for Change
Within the school of Pharmacy and Biomolecular sciences, I have been utilising electronic tools to teach chemistry and pharmaceutical science content. I decided to make changes to the way I lecture due to a number of reasons, such as (i) decreasing student attendance, (iii) reduced engagement with content, (iii) students are now actively recording lectures, (iv) limitation in the time available for delivery of the content and (v) most important of all, poorly structured guided study.
For this reason I decided to provide students with an ‘online e-learning package’ which consisted of a lecture which covered key concepts, an online blog and messenger to allow students to post questions and comments on areas of difficulty. Ultimately, I was providing students with all the content that was covered during face-to-face lectures to work on during private study. Students would have to spend 50 % of their time using online material created using Camtasia, which was placed on StudentCentral. Students were told to work on this material prior to the face-to-face session. This was carried out, so that I could focus on applying the knowledge learnt electronically and deal with areas of difficulty students faced within face-to-face ‘taught lecture workshops’. By applying the theory in the face-to-face session, the degree of student engagement was greater. You could say that I was lecturing the students on material they would have had to work on during private study and they were learning the lecture material in their own time. This is the concept of reverse learning, where the traditional model of lecturing is flipped on its head. After extensive questionnaire based feedback from 7 case studies, student attendance, engagement, satisfaction and grades all markedly improved.
The major benefits to students are that it allows them to focus on the material in their own time, and give them an emphasis to study that given material, or the taught lecture workshop will provide limited relevance. Students also get more opportunities to work with fellow students and better engagement with the academic. On a personal note, this format of teaching provides me with vibrant challenges, as every session is different and personalised to the student’s requests. More important gives it gives me scope to assist groups of students within my ‘split’ classroom to their particular needs. Most importantly it provides a platform to discuss and disseminate the relevance of theory, which is often not delivered due to time constraints.
The challenges are all associated with creating the right blend of electronic technologies for the student to utilise. This takes time and so does creating the vast body of online information. For students the challenges are often associated with differences in learning methods, as some students do not prefer learning off screens. The most difficult issue is trying to find a medium that allows for students to ask questions and we are still working on this. Ultimately new learning approaches often suffer plenty resistance and I have had to deal with that, but the positives in this case outweigh the negatives and as long as you’re willing to listen and adapt, students will jump on board.
Reverse learning is a means of freshening up the approach to lecturing. So, if you know of taught material that students have struggled with during face-to-face contact or you feel like you’re always behind in the delivery of the content, then this mode of lecturing gives you something you don’t too often – scope.
More about the technologies used: