Thursday, January 16, 2014

The flipped classroom

This semester I'm taking two classes with flipped classrooms, in two different departments.  The first is Theoretical Ecology and Evolution with Dr. Samuel Flaxman, in the Biology department.  We read articles and the textbook at home, and then spend the class time discussing our reading (what was clear or not, questions about the assumptions the authors made). We spend the rest of the class coding up different models in Mathematica in teams of 2-3.

I'm also taking Intro to Machine Learning with Dr. Matt Wilder, in the Computer Science department.  CU has a deal with Coursera, so we are responsible for watching lectures from Dr. Andrew Ng's most recent Machine Learning course at home.  The lectures then reinforce and expand on the material from the Coursera videos. 

This is my first semester with this kind of course structure, and so far, I really like it.  I love the idea of using MOOC videos to supplement lectures, especially since I often find that I need at least two exposures to a concept before I really understand it enough to implement (of course, we get homework assignments to see if we really understand something enough to code it up -- the best possible test of comprehension).  I also really like having a combined seminar/lab style theory and modeling class.  I have always found it super useful to code with other people or in teams.

Higher education really is innovative, even at University of Colorado. I feel lucky to have such committed teachers.

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