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MOOCs and the Flip Classroom/Flip Teaching in Medical Schools

Posted Oct 05 2012 12:00am

I believe that massive on-line open courses (MOOCs) will inevitably be broadly deployed in medical schools in upcoming years (see: Why Online Higher Education Is Both Useful and Necessary ). In fact, many medical school lectures are already being recorded and available for students on-line accompanied by faculty PowerPoint files. One of the dilemmas I encountered when I wrote this note about MOOCs was that I was unsure of exactly what role the current medical school faculty would fill if their lecturing role was diminished or even turfed to faculty in other schools. 

The answer to this question is now clear in my mind and involves an understand of the flip classroom and flip teaching. Here's an excerpt from the Wikipedia about this topic (see: Flip teaching ):

Flip teaching is a form of blended learning which encompasses any use of Internet technology to leverage the learning in a classroom, so a teacher can spend more time interacting with students instead of lecturing. This is most commonly being done using teacher created videos that students view outside of class time....The traditional pattern of secondary education has been to have classroom lectures, in which the teacher explains a topic, followed by homework, in which the student does exercises. In flip teaching, the student first studies the topic by himself, typically using video lessons created by the instructor or shared by another educator....In the classroom, the pupil then tries to apply the knowledge by solving problems and doing practical work. The role of the classroom teacher is then to tutor the student when they become stuck, rather than to impart the initial lesson. This allows time inside the class to be used for additional learning-based activities including use of differentiated instruction and project-based learning.

So, in the case of the medical school curricula, the role of the most on-site instructors will not be to deliver lectures but rather to work collaboratively with the students in small sections on, say, patient case histories. In so doing, they will help the students apply the knowledge that they have gained viewing web-enabled video lectures outside of the classroom. Such sections will also be of value in getting medical students accustomed to the team approach that is the norm in hospitals for patient diagnosis and care. I am not sure whether flip teaching will draw more medical students back into the classrooms given the availability of their lectures on-line. However and for me, small teaching sections run by clinician-tutors and focusing on clinical problems might turn this tide. I also think that medical school MOOCs with lectures delivered by charismatic, content experts might also provide an incentive for medical students to absorb more of the didactic lecture material prior to the applied, small, live sessions.

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