The Hidden Costs of Active Learning — from by Thomas Mennella
Flipped and active learning truly are a better way for students to learn, but they also may be a fast track to instructor burnout.
The time has come for us to have a discussion about the hidden cost of active learning in higher education. Soon, gone will be the days of instructors arriving to a lecture hall, delivering a 75-minute speech and leaving. Gone will be the days of midterms and finals being the sole forms of assessing student learning. For me, these days have already passed, and good riddance. These are largely ineffective teaching and learning strategies. Today’s college classroom is becoming dynamic, active and student-centered. Additionally, the learning never stops because the dialogue between student and instructor persists endlessly over the internet. Trust me when I say that this can be exhausting. With constant ‘touch-points,’ ‘personalized learning opportunities’ and the like, the notion of a college instructor having 12 contact hours per week that even remotely total 12 hours is beyond unreasonable.
We need to reevaluate how we measure, assign and compensate faculty teaching loads within an active learning framework. We need to recognize that instructors teaching in these innovative ways are doing more, and spending more hours, than their more traditional colleagues. And we must accept that a failure to recognize and remedy these ‘new normals’ risks burning out a generation of dedicated and passionate instructors. Flipped learning works and active learning works, but they’re very challenging ways to teach. I still say I will never teach another way again … I’m just not sure for how much longer that can be.
The above article prompted me to revisit the question of how we might move towards using more team-based approaches…? Thomas Mennella seems to be doing an incredible job — but grading 344 assignments each week or 3,784 assignments this semester is most definitely a recipe for burnout.
Then, pondering this situation, an article came to my mind that discusses Thomas Frey’s prediction that the largest internet-based company of 2030 will be focused on education.
I wondered…who will be the Amazon.com of the future of education?
Such an organization will likely utilize a team-based approach to create and deliver excellent learning experiences — and will also likely leverage the power of artificial intelligence/machine learning/deep learning as a piece of their strategy.