An Open and Connected Course for Faculty Development

Flexible Environment

--Originally published at Flipped Classroom

At first, this title came to me a little akward since mostly we, as teachers, tend to give guidelines an deadlines for submission of papers or other kind of homework and activities the students must hand in. In part, we tend to do this because it keeps track of the daily work they must be doing in order to keep up with the course, since some students must be guided very closely, or they can be easily lost in the course.
Usually these activities help the students focus on important aspects of the material being seen in class and help them be aware that the course keeps flowing and that time is precious.
On the other hand, this also helps the teachers have a schedule for grading activities and helps one focus on areas that you find specially difficult to address for the students, as they reflect this on the activities they hand in. Therefore, the teacher is able to insist in important data or processes that the students did not get really clear in the first place.
After seeing several videos on how to make videos for flipped learning, I came to the conclusion that the students can have different paces for learning and different motivations and feel atracted to different things in the course. Therefore, it is important to give them the opportunity to chose from a variety of activities that share common goals, and to give them a flexible way of handing them in. There are students that prefer to elaborate mind maps while others prefer tables. This is just an example, but clearly opens the door to flexibility and therefore helps the student decide what kind of material works best fot him and results more useful for individual use.
Another thing, is that the flexibility in the deadlines can also favour their responsibility. Nevertheless, there are some students that need a closer coaching and must be encouraged continuously to start with the activities, in order to be able to complete the tasks. Identifying these students can take some time, and could be deleterious in these students if the teacher is not constantly "on his back".
I think that being flexible is a bin step for me since I usually have things very well scheduled and with specitic goals to be achieved with each activity. I think it is very important for me to try and open up a little the repertoire of activities and experiment with leaving deadlines more open. This will give me the opportunity to evaluate what can be flexible in my courses.