In Conversation: Hybrid Learning for Energy Business and Economic Development with Professor Philip LaRocco

Professor Philip LaRocco is reimagining his Energy Business and Economic Development course with digitized lecture materials, collaborative assignments, and real-time feedback. With funding from Columbia University’s Office of the Provost, LaRocco teamed up with the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning (CCNMTL) to build a learning environment more conducive to the world in which his students currently intern, and plan to work in post-graduation. He is following a “flipped classroom” model—filming some of his lectures and making them available to students prior to class meetings—making way for more elaborate group review, discussions, and other collaborative assignments during class.

In the following video interview, Professor LaRocco describes his experience with “flipping” his class that he has been teaching at SIPA since 2007. He discusses how he has enhanced his course materials—case studies, readings, and expert interviews—with tools including Camtasia, Socrative, and Wikispaces.

I. Activating the Classroom
What does activating a classroom entail? Professor LaRocco describes how he chose Socrative for activating student feedback and greater discussion loops.

II. Student Reaction
As more and more courses become "hybrid," it is critical that faculty create opportunities for students to react and respond to the changes implemented. Here, a few of LaRocco’s students react to using Socrative.

III. Reflecting on Process
In this video, Professor LaRocco reflects on the limits and surprises involved in redesigning his course. Implementing the blended learning model has more moving parts because one must unbundle traditional teaching practices.

Professor LaRocco’s advice for other faculty who are considering blending their courses: ”As you think about taking apart what you think you know for a blended learning course, remember the pleasure is in the experience. Go in with an open mind, get as much help as you can and don’t be intimidated by the tools, and get help, also from your students”. Professor LaRocco hopes to continue to develop even richer hybrid course materials, ones that are accessible to all students, scholars, and the general public.