Empowering Flipped Classrooms with Reflect for Microsoft Teams
With the learning landscape evolving, many educators concur that monodirectional, teacher-to-student instruction doesn’t always fully prepare students for an increasingly complex world. Although lectures, note-taking, and instructor-centered teaching have led the way for centuries, critical thinking and knowledge application are gaining importance as core elements in school curricula.
This gave rise to the idea of flipped classrooms. In flipped classrooms, students are asked to learn from assigned materials prior to a lesson, and the lesson itself would be dedicated to other activities that require higher-level thinking (such as collaborative active learning, think-pair-share, discussions, or games that encourage knowledge application). It is centered around the philosophy that direct instruction is a departure from critical thinking and knowledge application, both of which are as essential, if not more essential, than knowledge transmission itself. In a modern setting, there is ample evidence that flipped classrooms can help learners thrive, especially in a post-pandemic world.
Flipped Classrooms: What Technology is Needed?
Since material preview is necessary for flipped classrooms, this means that a well-built technological platform is needed for students to access the learning content. Moodle, for example, is an educational platform used widely for all school levels and it facilitates this foundational step in flipped classrooms.
It is important to remember, however, that school doesn’t solely concern knowledge transmission, application, and critical thinking. Social-emotional learning (commonly known as SEL) – the development of self-awareness and emotions in school – is also a pivotal aspect to consider. There is evidence suggesting that when schools factor in social and emotional dimensions into the curriculum, grades, and attendance can rise by 11 percent. In a flipped classroom especially, where students are required to preview materials at home by themselves, learning can appear overwhelming and lonely. Social-emotional expression, therefore, becomes a critical yet overlooked aspect in flipped classrooms.
It is hence pivotal for educational technology to explore student wellbeing in contexts of flipped classrooms. One emerging application tailored particularly to this is Microsoft Reflect.
What is Microsoft Reflect?
Developed especially for educational purposes, Microsoft Reflect is an application that facilitates “connection, expression, and learning”. It draws on the concept of social-emotional learning and delves into complex layers of one’s emotion board when learning.
How can Microsoft Reflect Empower Flipped Classrooms?
Reflect is an educator’s supportive AI assistant. From conducting regular check-ins with students, to monitoring students’ feelings and absorption of the class material, Reflect is there to help in a timely manner. Grounded in the idea of creating a space for safe, judgment-free communication, it allows students to communicate how they feel with each learning activity. Students can, for example, indicate how they feel by choosing among 60 different emotion-related adjectives. It also takes into account different personalities and neurodiversity– for students who are unable to articulate their emotions verbally for any reason, emojis and other icons are available for them to express how they feel without being forced to “speak up” in a traditional way. With adorable “feelings monsters” to represent the app, Reflect also presents itself as a platform where learners are encouraged to engage emotionally.
Microsoft Reflect’s focus on emotions also acknowledges a critical topic in education: different learning trajectories. In a busy classroom, it is challenging for the teacher to attend to every student’s moods without some degree of timely support. With Reflect’s data, teachers would have a clearer idea of how each student is coping, therefore empowering them to effectively tailor emotional support for each individual. The collection of emotional data can be live, or collected at other specific times, which gives teachers some flexibility to incorporate the app into their lesson plans.
Combining Hardware and Software for an Enhanced Flipped Classroom Experience
Hardware can just be as important as software in flipped classrooms; therefore, in addition to the Reflect app, teachers would ideally have devices designed for educational needs. Acer’s Travelmate B Series is a line of products tailored specifically for educational needs, especially when communicating with students remotely. Featuring a built-in webcam, Acer PurifiedVoice, AI noise reduction technology, and privacy-protective camera shutters, the series presents a reliable space for video conversations with students. When distractive noise is reduced to a minimum and audiovisual quality is good, students would be able to feel safe and well-heard in virtual conversation with their teachers.
Building Courage to Learn with Microsoft Reflect and the Acer TravelMate Series
In a rapidly developing education landscape, both teachers and students may find themselves struggling to catch a breath and communicate their emotions in the classroom. Microsoft Reflect is here to lift the weight off learning and teaching just a little less daunting. Free to use through Microsoft Teams, it is readily accessible and doesn’t require a separate installation of the app. Check-ins can also easily be embedded with Microsoft Class Notebook, making data simpler to integrate for educators. Similarly, Acer’s TravelMate series is also carefully designed for teachers to create an effective, safe space for important educational mentoring.
Before your next lesson, download the Microsoft Reflect app and consider exploring the technology that Acer has built for education. Experience for yourself how it may enrich your students’ education in meaningful ways that you’ve never envisioned.
Esme Lee is a science writer and editor in the UK, carrying a passion for tech copywriting. She has a background in educational neuroscience and holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge.