Five weeks now into my MA on Online and Distance Education with the Open University in the UK and it's already making me rethink my methods of teaching. Am I doing too much telling, or am I allowing my students enough room to actively engage with each other and develop their own learning strategies? Am I working too teacher-centric or is there an appropriate balance between teacher-student and student-student activity?
Admittedly the balance sways according to what I am teaching and whether it's online or face-to-face.
Nevertheless, I believe it's important as teachers to keep in mind that part of our responsibility is to motivate students to become autonomous learners, to become interested in following up what they've learnt in the classroom and being able to make sense of it in the outside world. Although authenticity alone isn't a guarantee that students will comprehend what you are trying to teach, at least it signals that you are taking an interest in them and adapting material to suit their needs.
As a part time adult student I like to be prepared before any online discussions with my peers and use this line of thinking with my students. I send them audio-visual material via mail or texts and images etc, in order to prepare them for the next English language lesson. This means that when we come together, we are already a step ahead, as they have had time to internalize the material, so the lesson grounds what they have learnt and acts more as a reinforcement.
I was browsing the Web today and found a name for what I have already been doing for quite some time: The Flipped Classroom. It may not be the solution for every learning/ teaching situation but perhaps by just being aware that there are various pedagogic models at our disposal, it may help us create new pathways of thinking about our own teaching strategies.