I have been teaching the same introductory German sequence for, oh, 8 years now and yesterday I finally came to the conclusion that I need a change. Really bad. I want to spend more time in class actually working on important skills – speaking, writing, discussing cultural artifacts – and less time on covering grammar. I decided that a “flipped classroom” approach would let me realize this new course configuration. I also decided that my current course textbook and online workbook is too expensive, which led me to consider some other open education resources (OER) that are currently out there. I found a really excellent German textbook – Deutsch im Blick – which is available at University of Texas-Austin. Ten chapters over two semesters works out to five chapters per semester, which is certainly manageable.
So, I am in the process of converting my first-year sequence totally into a flipped classroom approach and developing my own OER to support it. The German Grammar Videos I have developed so far have been good, but I found myself talking too long, and in too great of detail. Why stretch it out, if I can say the same thing in under five minutes? And thus the idea of the 5-Minute German Grammar series was born:
This project should take me several months to finish, but once it is done I should have some high granularity learning objects that I can use in other blended learning contexts. And putting them out there on my YouTube channel will certainly help other people … as soon as they find them.
In addition to developing the flipped course on our own learning management system (LMS), which sits behind the university tuition paywall, I am also planning to develop the course as a MOOC on Canvas LMS at Instructure. Why not get it out there for as many students – secondary and post-secondary – to use? Canvas makes this easy: Just export the whole course from Moodle as a backup file, upload to Canvas, and unpack. Done.
I found that keeping the video under five minutes really helped me focus my instructional approach, cut the frills, and discuss only the most pertinent material. That’s good. I wasn’t too happy with the old intro, however, so I came up with a new one:
A little more polished, but it still has a minimalist feel to it.