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Peer-instruction online community is up

This semester I’ve been experimenting with a variation on “peer instruction” in the law-school course I teach (advanced contract drafting and -review). I’m still getting the hang of it and having to do extra work to develop good class-discussion questions, but the approach seems to be working well, and the students really like it.

Proponents of the approach have recently started an on-line community at www.peerinstruction.net. A Harvard University press release summarizes the approach thusly:

The PI technique relies on the power of the ‘flipped classroom.’ Information transfer (i.e., a teacher transferring knowledge to students) takes place in advance, typically through online lectures. In short, students study before rather than after class.

As a result, the classroom becomes a place for active learning, questions, and discussion. Instructors spend their time addressing students’ difficulties rather than lecturing.

While originally developed for [Professor Eric] Mazur’s introductory physics courses, PI is now used across multiple disciplines, from the sciences to the humanities.

Of course, this all presupposes that the students will actually do the reading in advance, which is not always a given ….