This week we’re formally launching our beta version of the InteDashboard teaching software for Team-Based Learning (TBL). It’s only fitting that we’re doing this the week of the Asia Pacific Airline Training Symposium (APATS). I am at APATS this week with a delegation of faculty from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and it blows me away to see all the cool gadgets and technology used for aviation training. Seeing the cockpit displays and simulators reminds me of how much rich data pilots have at their fingertips to manage aircraft performance.
Recently, I have been starting my education and technology conference presentations this way: Show a picture of one of my favorite runways in Kalaupapa, a small community on the island of Molokaʻi, within the U.S. state of Hawaii. Then explain to the audience the two critical pieces of real-time data that a pilot needs to land safely:
Am I too high or too low?
Am I too fast or too slow?
In the classroom, speed and altitude are also important. You don’t want to go so fast that you’re losing people or so slow that you are putting them to sleep. Furthermore, the right altitude is also important as so you can teach at the right level of difficulty. When I left my position as a CFO at Skywest Airlines to start teaching aviation business courses (i.e. airline management, airport administration and finance and aeronautical science for management) at Embry-Riddle (the oldest and largest aeronautical university in the world), I realized that many professors did not have the data to determine if and when they were going too high/low or too fast/slow.
Fortunately, the very specific form of flipped classroom teaching methodology known as TBL has the potential to provide faculty with this data. TBL was invented by Larry Michaelson at the University of Oklahoma nearly four decades ago and its efficacy has been well established in academic research, and nearly half of all medical schools in the US use some form of TBL now. I wrote another article about how exactly TBL works, do check it out if TBL is new to you!
I liked the notion of TBL and the well-thought-out structure of its component steps:
- Individual pre-work
- Individual Readiness Assurance Test (IRAT)
- Team Readiness Assurance Test (TRAT)
- Clarification Session
- Application Exercises
But I thought more could be done to make TBL effective and engaging in the classroom. That’s why I spent the last year developing and beta-testing InteDashboard with dozens of professors from the US and Asia.
If TBL is so great, why aren’t more people doing it?
This is a great question. One reason I can think of is that change is hard especially in academia where more than half of US professors are still teaching primarily with one-way lectures. Furthermore, in order for TBL to work well, it requires rolling up your sleeves and putting in some time to craft test questions, discussion topics, etc. But only initially.
Once you’re past planning for the right learning objectives, test questions, and application exercises, you’ll be able to create great learning experiences that can last for many more courses in the future. Then once you get into class, administering and managing the IRAT, TRAT, Clarifications, and Applications of TBL will be a breeze. With automated grading, teachers can spend less time performing administrative duties like collating test scores, and instead spend that time more productively.
3 reasons why I built InteDashboard
- Ease the administrative burden
Many faculty still use numerous processes to encourage group-work in the classroom, not at all like what team-based learning really is. Some still use bubble sheets. Many use physical scratch cards for team tests. And most I have met use flash cards for application exercises. All these methods might have been great at some point in history, but there’s really no need to deal with the paper work hassle of collating test scores, manual grading, and printing out copious amounts of paper! InteDashboard automates all this and streamlines the process, from improving learning, to testing, to collating grades, and analysing data.
- Provide real-time data
Faculty still using manual marking and grade collation processes won’t be able to get real-time data on things like student performance (individually and collectively as a class) as well as his/her own teaching performance. Seeing the results of the IRAT and TRAT while students are completing them allows me to know what the key issues will be and what the problem areas are for most students. I can mentally start preparing how to address them or at least double check the answer key to make sure I didn’t screw it up!
- Deeper level data
TBL generates lots of data. One of my courses will typically generate 100,000 data points on student performance. In the era of big data, there will be ways to optimize learning by analyzing the massive amounts of data mined here. On a macro-scale, this can affect the way in which teachers/course coordinators hope to plan their courses in the future.
Hopefully we can work on the user interface a bit so that in the years to come, the InteDashboard will look just as cool for teachers as modern flight simulators are for pilots!