I finished this course a few weeks ago and thought a course review was in order. The title is The Modern Classrooms Project course. I stumbled onto this online class when looking up information on a potential podcast I wanted to do in the future, but will now not be developed. I was surprised when I found this course and hoped it would have a lot of useful information.
You can check all of my assignments for this program here.
So, let’s just jump right in and find out if this course is worth taking….
What Is the Gist of the Modern Classroom?
As I mentioned above, I found this course while researching a podcast on unschooling. When I stumbled onto the site Modern Classrooms Project I was pretty excited that they were offering a free course on what is essentially a flipped classroom. Basically, it is removing the concept of the live lecture element from teaching and replacing it with recorded audio or video (or both) lectures that students watch/listen to at their own pace outside of the classroom. Then, when students do come to class, the teacher has the whole time to devote to individualized mentoring, while students work at their own pace on assignments and proficiency testing.
This is not a new process to me, of course. When I took online courses in my undergrad, it was essentially a flipped classroom, just without the actual brick and mortal building to go to. I could watch lectures when and where I wanted, do assignments and take tests on my laptop and was essentially on my own to engage with the material as I liked.
The same was true, years later, when I started homeschooling my step kids. I knew I wanted to pull them out of school (i.e. indoctrination center), but I didn’t want to just recreate school at home. I eventually settled on a hybrid version of the Robinson Curriculum, focusing on reading, writing, and mathematics and a heavy emphasis on the kids doing their own work at their own pace.
Flash forward another ten years to today, and the kids are gone and I’m finally out of higher education, and I’m looking at the possibility of hanging out my own shingle as a philosophy teacher online, developing my own curriculum to sell through the internet, specifically via workbooks on Kindle. When I first started looking at doing it, I knew again that I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. I didn’t want to develop Bible or Philosophy curriculum that simply repeated what everyone else has already done.
I was hoping this course would provide some insight and some strategies to make my future courses better before I ever began.
What I Liked About the Course
First off, I have to say the course was well put together. The LMS used is nice and the video was well done (I guess). I’m not really certain how an operation like this would make money, to be honest. Surely they can’t generate enough to pay the salaries for the several individuals working there (not sure how many exactly). Then again, I’ve never really be very good at seeing potential earnings in things or ideas. Money is really not my best measure of success.
I do like the concept of no live lectures. I’ve always detested the format. In school, in church meetings. Especially when there are few really good lecturers out there and a whole basket full of mediocre ones. Most often the student has to sit through just bad teaching in general with no other options available. Additionally, live lectures provide no repetition. This was one major draw for me in college when I discovered online courses. Not only was I free to be on my own and independent (not having to rely on anyone else – or have to sit in a room with them for hours on end), but I could watch the lectures when it suited me personally, I could pause them, fast forward them, even repeat them as many times as I needed or desired.
Add to that the ability to supplement my course materials with lectures or books or websites of my own sourcing. Why watch a boring video from a local professor at a community college on a philosophical subject when I can watch recorded lectures from world-renowned professors from some of the best universities and seminaries the world over?
I also liked the alternative form of grading and assessment in the flipped classroom, with individualized pacing, peer help, and proficiency assessment rather than performance assessment goes a long way in providing comprehensive learning rather than peak learning for just a few and substandard for everyone else.
In my future courses I would like to adopt all of these strategies. I would like to leverage what others have already done in the subject matter, especially in biblical and philosophical studies. Colleges already do this by selecting various books as part of a required reading list. I plan to do this for lectures as well. Given the TOS for most online video sites these days, all content is available for free as long as I link to it instead of embed or copy and repost. As long as I’m not distributing the third party material and I’m not willingly linking to pirated material, then I am free of copyright infringement.
Will I generate actual students? To be completely honest, I have no idea, and really don’t care. As I finished this class and the Principles of Biblical Teaching course, I came to realize that I’m not entirely certain I’ve been called to teach in the first place. For the longest time it was the goal simply so I could ditch the low paying, gut wrenching jobs that I hated. But, with those jobs now gone and my current job seeing no end in sight, it is a much harder sell that teaching is my actual vocation.
Then again, it is just as possible that I’ve been called to teach in a different fashion that is traditionally accepted. I’m not at all comfortable speaking in front of people. If I were I’d just be a pastor of a small church somewhere and be done with it. Instead, I’m much more at home with the written word. Not that anyone cares to read what I write. I’m perfectly okay with that because I really don’t write with other people in mind. I write for myself. So, if it is God’s plan that I become a teacher, I imagine writing will have a lot to do with its day to day activity.
What I Disliked About the Course
Unfortunately, there was not a whole lot of actual content in the course. The videos were quite short and surface level, barely providing any real information at all. I suspect the course itself is a marketing gimmick to push their individual mentorship program ($495 / person).
Another problem I had was there was zero mention of leveraging already created, third party material. There was some talk about teachers recording their own content, which, in my view, kind of defeats the purpose of the flipped classroom. We don’t, as standard practice, expect teachers or professors to write the textbook before they teach a given course. Instead, the professor looks to work by experts in the field who have already written books on the subject and they include that material in the course requirements. Typically, students have to purchase a text from the school bookstore or from Amazon, or (increasingly new) the school purchases the digital rights to the book in question so they can give it to the students (a way of justifying the exorbitant tuition).
In my estimation, unless you are teaching in a highly fluid and ever changing subject matter, there is no need to create new content in lecture form. Either use free content already available online (often from people much more skilled at public speaking that us), especially for high school and undergrad.
Would I Recommend?
All things being equal, I would not recommend this course be taken by anyone, unless you have absolutely no idea what a flipped classroom is or how one would create a course utilizing the approach. Instead, I would recommend free videos online by Sal Kahn or any number of Ted Talks on the subject.
Until my next course review….
Excerpt from The Light Aurora:
The door’s lock released and Dr. Lewis looked around at each of them. “Stay close, and be ready for anything. I’m not sure if they’re all in the Command Center or if they are trying to secure Level 4. Hell, they could all be evacuating.” He stared at Scott as he came up onto the landing. “Let’s go,” Scott said. Dr. Lewis pushed the door open and walked out into the hall, followed by the others – in ones and twos. Level 2 was similar to the other level, with a long corridor, doors on either side, all with security displays recessed into the wall next to them. But, as they entered the corridor, Scott’s breath caught in his throat. As he stood there with the others, he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. In front of them, probably no more than a few yards away, were three bodies lying on the floor. One was sitting up against the wall, the side of his face melted, exposing his right eyeball and a good portion of his right skull. Another one was laying face down, his entire back opened up at the spine, as if his spinal cord had been ripped out of him from behind. The last one was a few more feet away from the others, on his back, his eyes seared from his head, black, burnt flesh where his eyes used to be. The intercom came back to crackling life. “Professor?” Derrick said over the intercom. “Don’t worry. You can answer,” he said. “I can hear you.” Scott looked up, then fixed his gaze on the security camera at the end of the corridor. “Yes?” Scott finally asked. There was a pause, static. “What are you doing, Derrick?” he asked. “Did you do this?” “Indeed,” Derrick said, coming back on. “Why?” “They refused to help me.” “What are you trying to do, Derrick?” Scott asked. There was another pause. “I want to go home, Professor,” the boy said. “Home?” “Yes,” Derrick said, his tone soaked with some other-worldly confidence that did not belong in an innocent, ten year old boy. “I want to go home, Professor,” he said again. “Would you be interested in coming home with me?”
Buy the entire story The Light Aurora today and get ready for the thrill ride of a lifetime! What is this foreign and hostile place these strangers find themselves in? What does it all mean? Will all of them survive? Click here and grab your copy today! All three books in one! But, trust me when I say, reading this book will change your life forever.