News From the Front Lines

I received an email with this title over the weekend from Barbara Durham.  She was updating me on how her first in-class sessions in our new reduced seat time format went.  I got a similar note from Cameron Ford a few days earlier.

Mike Tyson once famously said that everybody has a plan until they get hit in the mouth.  These were our first forays into having 200 students all in a room doing a group activity, but the early returns are promising.  Both Barbara and Cameron reported very similar experiences with noisy rooms filled with mostly engaged students who had done what they were supposed to have done in preparation for the class activity.  Those who had failed to prepare for the class activity stood out, got the message that they were slackers and paid the price. Cameron recorded the video below to give us a sense of how it felt.  Barbara described her room as electric.


Now for the punch in the mouth part, both faculty mentioned the need to soundproof the room and that some students clearly had not watched the videos they had assigned prior to coming to class.  Barbara estimated the number that hadn’t completed the work necessary to do the in-class activity to be around 25 percent, but she went on to note that many students didn’t watch lecture capture videos or keep up in class under the old format either.

While the bureaucrats call our new approach reduced seat time, that doesn’t really capture the goals or benefits we seek.  Given the video and the feedback from Barbara and Cameron, I’m inclined to call it “crowd learning.”  That term has come to mean: learning by interacting with each other and is certainly consistent with our culture of engagement.  Anybody got something better to call it?

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5 thoughts on “News From the Front Lines

  1. An aside: Some things don’t change. I graduated from UCF in 2003 and had Mrs. Durham for Intro to Managerial Accounting and the lecture hall in the video looks just like one of the large lecture halls in the BA building back then. Suddenly I don’t feel nearly as old.

  2. Now the next step is to rip out all those old stadium seats and replace them with movable mini tables and whiteboards as far as the eye can see!

  3. In Integrated Business we call it a “flipped classroom” and once our students experience it, almost none of them want to go back to the traditional lecture.

  4. Love the whiteboard idea! Short-term solution might be to place whiteboards on the walls in the lecture hall and have smaller rolling whiteboards in the back. It’ll take several years to get approval to remove the stadium seats. 🙂

    Might also be worth a follow on blog post to explore the future of this reduced seat time model. This site doesn’t do it justice https://cdl.ucf.edu/support/student/modalities/.

    It’d be interesting to hear how the quality of the collaboration is assessed and how cross team engagement is encouraged. With ~50 groups, it doesn’t seem practical to have the groups share with the wider audience in the classroom. Do groups post videos / content to a forum with the result of their in class work?

    As for the name, I’d go with *CoLab Learning* which includes online and in-person collaboration elements. In others words, cover the basics of the activity online and then in the in-class time it’s a discussion on the open items from the online work (similar to the business environment today).
    By setting a clear deliverable for the in-class work….it’d also encourage that pre-work is done and the in-class time is maxed out.

    p.s. great energy in the video!!

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