The rationale for this project design outlines the use of a web based learning platform, Edmodo (www.edmodo.com), to facilitate a flipped classroom model for a professional development course module – Negotiation Skills for Lawyers.
The setting for my project is Professional Skills training for lawyers. The project could be a module on the Law Society’s Professional Skills Course (which trainee solicitors must complete) or could be a continuing professional development (CPD) module. Students are likely to be working in a legal setting, however, the learning activities could equally be applied to any business education setting. It is envisaged that students will have a high degree of academic ability and motivation. For legal professionals there is a CPD requirement to complete 16 hours of training every year, the employer would be expected to facilitate (and pay) for the appropriate training either in-house or through a course provider. This learning activity is designed to address the problem of CPD training being costly and time consuming through provision of a cost-effective blended learning course which is delivered largely online and assessed through classroom based activity.
The project has been built using an Edmodo platform which can be accessed remotely by students to work on activities, assignments and collaborative projects. In the design of the activities, I have considered the Biggs’ Constructive Alignment Principle (Biggs, J.B., Tang,C.S., & Biggs, J.B. (2007) whereby ‘all aspects of teaching and assessment are tuned to support high level learning, so that all students are encouraged to use higher order learning processes. The types of higher order learning processes that would be practised in the classroom would be, for example, reflection, hypothesise, solve unseen complex problems, generate new alternatives, etc.
The activities that the students need to complete are designed to be learner centred so that the student can access the resources and released activities at a time to suit themselves. The activities require a certain amount of independent learning through private study. The project aims to provide a combination of both e-learning and classroom based activities utilising a flipped classroom approach whereby student engagement with course learning materials happens online (either in the workplace or wherever the student chooses), and the higher order skills are allocated to class time. In this way, the design project has incorporated Bloom’s taxonomy (1956) in allocating the activities between private study, classroom based activities and assessment. Research by Strayer (2012) found that where the flipped classroom approach was used, students learning was deeper and they participated more in class based activities, for these reasons, the structure of the learning activities and assessment in the project are following the flipped approach.
The structure of the learning activities was modelled on Gilly Salmon’s 5 Stage Model (2000), see diagram below, with activity 1 being at the base of the model at stages 1 and 2 providing access and motivation to the course, familiarisation and online socialisation. Activity 1 directs the students to engage with a simple online forum and to post a comment introducing themselves to the group and to comment on other students’ posts. A link is provided to twitter.com to facilitate online socilisation, however, the students could equally choose a different method of communicating that they are more familiar with or prefer. It is possible to provide a link to a blog tool to facilitate students’ engagement with each other through blog tasks and encourage students to share ideas through that medium, however, this course is designed to be a short course, which if ran face to face would last for approximately 4.5 hours, and so reflection on an ongoing basis does not seem appropriate for this particular learning activity. However, for a longer course, it would be a useful facility to incorporate a blog and to encourage students to share thoughts and ideas as this is considered to be an important contributor to knowledge construction.
Assignment 2 is modelled onto stage 3 of Salmon’s model, Information Exchange, as it facilitates completion of the task and is supported by use of the project’s embedded learning materials. At the moment, there are two resources in the edmodo library facility which the students can use. The library can be added to with further resources but the student is not limited to only the resources included in the library. This activity also maps onto stage 4 of the model, Knowledge Construction, as the student constructs the knowledge required in completing the quiz to identify their own negotiation style, and reflect on their own performance by sharing comments in the online forum. A further development that would enhance this learning activity would be to include videos of negotiation roleplay exercises – these could be used in a variety of ways, such as asking students to identify the negotiation styles being adopted in the roleplay.
Stage 5 of the model, concerning development, provision of links outside closed communities and e-moderated support, is addressed throughout the design project with the establishment of the online forum and the embedded interactive messaging facility. The message facility allows asynchronous messaging between the students and the e-moderator (teacher); a further development that would enhance the experience for learners would be to have ‘open’ times whereby messaging would be synchronous or to embed a conferencing facility.
Salmon’s 5 Stage Model
Biggs, J. (2003) Aligning Teaching for Constructing Learning
Bloom, B.S. (ed.)(1956) Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals
Salmon, G. (2000) E-moderating: the key to teaching and learning online London: Kogan Page
Strayer, J. F. (2012). How learning in an inverted classroom influences cooperation, innovation and task orientation. Learning Environments Research, 15(2), 171-193.