Get to Know Knowmia, the Flipped Instruction Tool

So much of what we teach during a typical IL session are the lower level skills that serve as a foundation for information literacy. While students absolutely need those foundational skills, it’s the higher order thinking skills that we really need to be concentrating on in order to help students become independent learners so that they can become lifelong learners.  Flipping library instruction can remedy that problem. (See my previous post of flipping the one-shot session.)

Flipped instruction can be valuable, but is often done entirely wrong. Many instructors make the mistake of believing that by merely providing students with videos to watch outside of class, they’re ‘flipping the classroom.’ NO. That’s called ‘extending the lecture.’

Flipping the classroom requires interactive lessons to take place outside of class. Students need feedback in order to learn. And instructors need to know what students are learning. How do you know what students are learning if they’re just watching videos?

That’s where Knowmia comes in. It’s a great tool that helps you design flipped instruction the right way.

Knowmia allows you to combine video lessons with assignments  to develop a truly flipped approach to learning. You can upload a screencast or YouTube lesson, or create your own using Knowmia’s Teach app for the iPad. Then you can intersperse your lessons with questions (open-ended or multiple choice) using the Assignment wizard. You get notified when students have completed an assignment, at which time you can provide them with feedback. They can respond back to you.

And Knowmia is good for more than flipped instruction. It’s ideal for distance education and embedded librarianship. And it would also make a great online library orientation tool.


Flipping the One-Shot Library Session

You are probably familiar with the concept of the flipped classroom – it’s currently one of the hottest trends in educational technology, thanks in part to Khan Academy. But, have you ever thought about flipping library instruction?  I think there’s real potential in it when done well. “Done well” is hard to define though, as just about everyone can offer you a set of best practices. In this post, I will cover the basics of some of those best practices and tie them into the specific issues that librarians face with the one-shot session. Here it goes:

BEFORE you flip: Flipping the one-shot library session has the added complication that you are being invited into someone else’s classroom. Of course, this means that the instructor has to be on board with you. You will also need to take into consideration how much the instructor utilizes his or her course page, and whether or not s/he is willing to grade the students on their completion of the activities prior to the library session (participation points can be very motivational). Flipping won’t work if the students rarely use their course page, and it will probably be a waste of your time if they don’t have some motivation to participate in it.

What NOT to do: The number one mistake in flipping instruction is posting a video or two for the students to view before coming to class. That equates to nothing more than an extended lecture, which is not the purpose of flipped instruction.

What to DO: Flipped instruction should not only be active, but also interactive (see my post on Beyond Active Learning). If you do post videos – screencasts included – you will also need to create some sort of activity to go with it. Whether this is through the use of discussions, games, quizzes or something else will be entirely dependent on the needs of the students and input from the classroom instructor. The bottom line is that the flipped part of the instruction should be designed to include feedback and/or assessment in order for you to tailor the in-class instruction to the learning needs of the students. Above all, flipped instruction should be learner-centered.

Process vs. Procedure: Limit the outside class activities to teaching procedural tasks (how to do) such as how to navigate the library catalog, how to do Boolean searching, etc…  In my own experience, I have found that librarians spend far too much time on teaching procedural tasks in one-shot sessions. I believe the one-shot session should focus more on process (how to think) such as strategies for source selection, source evaluation, etc… If we were able to solely focus on process during library instruction, we might make more progress in developing deeper learning in our students.

Project-Based Learning (PBL): Project-based learning is ideal for flipped classroom instruction. In PBL, you take on the role of “guide on the side.” You are there to facilitate learning, not lecture.