Game – Development Program Goes Online with New Flipped Classroom Method
For many of us, YouTube acts as a platform for a source of daily entertainment, various learning opportunities, and more. Now, the site acts as a classroom for many of the students within the Game – Development program. Program Coordinator and Professor, Brian Sinasac, has filmed and uploaded numerous lectures for three of his courses, as part of a flipped classroom strategy in response to the COVID-19 protocols restricting in-class learning for the time being. Knowing that students are at home, with some who may be in different time zones and different parts of the world, Brian wondered how to best handle this situation so that his lessons could be easily accessible. That’s when he thought of the idea of uploading material that would normally be taught in-person, on YouTube for his students (and anyone else interested) to access at any time, any place. “I created everything asynchronously with the attitude that my students will be responsible for consuming that content and then participating in an online discussion of some kind. I’ll put up some discussion questions and then the students will take their time and asynchronously discuss it through an online survey or an online chat board offered on eCentennial,” he explains.
Having asynchronous material was important to Brian, particularly because of the adjustments many have had to make due to the pandemic. He says that students could be taking care of someone at home, only have certain hours available in a day, or have to work to help their family during this time, all of which could be accommodated by having the material available on a platform like YouTube. He also mentions that a lot of the content that is taught can already be easily accessed on the Internet, but he says it’s the “Professors that have more to offer; they have the experience, and they have the opportunity to utilize their own personal experience to make things broader.” This is why having the content available to anyone interested in watching, is not an issue. He says, “It’ll be a deep dive into the material where my students will have consumed the base material and then they’ll have this discussion, hopefully amongst themselves and with me, and then when we eventually get there synchronously, we’ll talk about what they want to talk about and we will personalize the education to their needs and to what they don’t understand. It’s my hope in this flipped classroom idea, where they are consuming the content and then visiting me, rather than me giving the content and then afterwards asking questions, there will actually be a deeper dive into the material itself. It’s my hope that they’ll get more.”
It was Brian’s original intention to have about an hour’s worth of content per class that students would be able to watch repeatedly, which he says is important when it comes to technical videos, such as coding. “The students can watch that over and over again if they want to until they really get what’s happening,” he says. He also explains what a typical week would look like- “I would assign the video material at the beginning of the week, and they would have until Wednesday to participate in a discussion board. Then we’d meet on Wednesday for about an hour and do some kind of practical exercise that focused on the material. Then on Friday, we’d meet for about an hour and we’d go over the discussion questions that they had.” However, this schedule is not something Brian has solidified, as he truly wants his students to be able to pitch ideas and decide on a schedule that would work for everyone. “There’s nothing that’s stopping us from adjusting our schedule, as we’re not sitting in a classroom. If I’m free and they’re free, and we all agree, then we can meet whenever they’d like,” he says.
Game Theory 1, Development Concepts, and Lighting & Rendering are the three courses Brian has created video content for. Within the course Game Theory 1, one of the main assignments is to create a board game. Brian explains that every week when classes were held in-person, he would discuss what it means to design a game and important things to consider. Then, the remainder of the class would allow students to create and submit a board game. With this flipped classroom technique, Brian has found a way to still keep this assignment by finding a board game simulator that lets you build board games online! “In the classroom, I used to just give them a bunch of materials, such as dice and paper, and they would build their game, but now they can’t do that,” he explains. However, learning how to use the board game simulator requires some practice, which is where Brian’s video lectures can be used. By making a video series explaining how to use it, it allows his students to prepare beforehand so that they’re ready to actually use the software. “A lot of the videos are just to catch the students up to the point where they’re now ready to start school, and then there are videos for school as well,” he says.
This flipped classroom method relies immensely on the accountability of students, as well as providing the freedom to rearrange and restructure material, something that in-person lectures did not necessarily always allow for. Brian says, “I’m depending on them to be responsible for their own time. It’s important that they are still able to properly handle their own agenda. If they come to class and they haven’t done any of their work, or they don’t participate in the conversation, then they are not going to get anything out of it. With this flipped classroom method, we actually will have a deeper education and a more thorough education, and if this works, I will continue this even if we go back to school.”
With these changing times, it’s important to adjust accordingly, while still fulfilling the commitment of delivering quality content to students, and this new method Brian has put forth emulates that to the utmost degree. To take a look at the videos Brian has uploaded thus far, you can find them on the YouTube channel: CasanisPlays
By: Alexandra Few