A sneak peak of SOFLA – first random thoughts

 Last year (2020) I had everything ready to flip one of my pronunciation courses. Material had been prepared, ideas were organized, the institutional platform designed and almost ready ... when the quarantine kept us all locked in. What could I do? I was suddenly forced to flip ONLINE! 

I did my best mainly through trial and error, because I did not know there was an approach called SOFLA: Synchronous Online Flipped Learning Approach, full of tried and tested ideas, tools and strategies to make teaching and LEARNING significant, motivating and succesful! 

As I am now delving into this approach, I can say that its eight basic steps which form a cycle of learning provide a clear framework to organize lessons and it is useful for both teachers and students, who would know what they are doing, why they are doing it and what comes next (not a minor detail in today's context so full of uncertainties).

The cyle of learning in SOFLA (Marshal and Kotska 2020)

In 2020 we teachers had to teach online to students who had not enrolled in an online course. I believe that made a world of difference. Students were not ready - psychologically or technologically - to suddenly be faced with a completely different environment which required a change of attitude on their part, which required them to become more active and in charge of their learning. In my case, I assumed the famous 'digital native' would know how to manage technology, but I was wrong. They did not know how to learn with technology. They barely knew how to send an email attaching a file, So, we taught technology, we taught how to use apps and sites so that then we could move on to teach them the content we were supposed to be teaching. (And the fact that many teachers had to learn all of this first adds a further hindrance which deserves a post of its own). 

There is a lot to do for pre work - interactive video, collaborative reading, etc - and there are many activities to adapt to online synchronous meetings. The change takes time but I personally believe it is worth its while. Still, in my own context (La Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina) the poor internet connectivity - or its expense! - and the lack of devices (both for students and teachers) are key obstacles that do not depend on us (the educational community) but which need to be solved if we are to avoid deepening the divide between those who access education and those who don't. Or in any case, we might need to develop a variety based on SOFLA but without the compulsory synchronic component... we'll see. 


Marshal, H. and Kotska, I. (2020) Fostering Teaching Presence through the Synchronous Online Flipped Learning Approach. The Electronic Journal for English as a Second Language. (24 - 2).