A new hope

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the world forever. Even the ivory tower of academics was shaken. All of a sudden, many faculty members at research universities realized that high-quality teaching was part of their job responsibilities that was mostly taken for granted. We strive for excellence in research because, the truth be told, this is the main criterion for merit and promotion at our schools. Maintaining an active competitive research program requires a lot more time than our official university contract usually affords. This leads to a natural tendency to devote a second-rate effort to our teaching responsibilities. But now everyone sees that we have become complacent about our teaching methods despite recent giant leaps in technology. Did you feel uncomfortable—and perhaps even lost—when you had to instantaneously switch to the online delivery?

You are not alone. I have taught both face-to-face and online classes, and I know that designing and building an online class takes a serious time commitment. It was simply impossible to switch a class originally designed to be a face-to-face class to online delivery in less than a week and maintain the same quality of teaching in the spring 2020 semester. Some shortcuts had to be taken, and it was not to the benefit of our students.

Yet the solution was there a long time ago. This solution is the flipped classroom. There is a body of conclusive evidence-based research that flipped classrooms result in better student learning outcomes. Moreover, flipped classrooms can easily be converted to online delivery because they already contain extensive (video) content for pre-class activities. Anyone who already adopted this leading approach was probably quietly smiling ready to confidently face the teaching challenges brought to light by the pandemic.

The only way to make it through the hyper-competitive academic market is to be a superachiever. We never give up—those who do simply fall through the cracks and never come back—and we can work harder than anyone. We can also learn quickly and adapt. I declare that now is the time to adapt to a new teaching paradigm. The knowledge and tools have been available for a long time. We just need to recognize and embrace them.

Today I declare my commitment to start switching my teaching to a flipped classroom approach. It is going to be a long and difficult journey. I will undoubtedly face many challenges on my way. Yet I embrace this challenge, and I will succeed! Are you ready to take this journey with me? I will document all my steps along the way, and I hope that this blog will encourage those of you who are still on the fence to make the right choice. I learned a long time ago that if you want to change the world around you, then your should change yourself. I will lead by example.

To the new hope!

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