Flipping That Classroom

Beginning this week and continuing through October and November, I’m facilitating a nation-wide series of change management master classes for ICT professionals. I’m excited because we’re trying a flipped classroom approach. At the PCMA Education Conference this summer, I attended a seminar that tried this delivery method.  It wasn’t as successful as it could have been, but it did start an interesting dialogue among participants and continued the one I had been hearing brewing online from folks like two of my tech-savvy, former ASCD Scholars,  Eric Sheninger and Steve Anderson.

The premise of this idea is that flipped classrooms turn the concept of learning into a stronger two way street. You’re given many of the guiding materials before you get to the “classroom”. The materials range from chapters in a book to instructional videos. Then, once you join your classmates and teacher, you use the time together to focus on more hands-on activities like help solidify the theoretical concepts you first learned through your pre-work, rather than listening to more lectures. As an instructional practice, there are definitely pros and cons. Your students need to be motivated and have enough focus and drive to do the work prior to, otherwise you spend classroom time reviewing concepts when you could be continuing the learning through your practical applications. However, it does allow those students, especially adult learners who need to be able to bring those practical concepts back to their offices sooner rather than later, taking advantage of this part of the digital learning revolution has got some interesting hooks.

In a strange connection, as I was developing the content and concept of these workshops with Michael Reardon from Blackbaud, I had a business trip that I flew Southwest Airlines for. Who but Judy Willis, from my ASCD days, was featured in an article about this very concept. I was excited to hear more about how technology and education were thinking through ideas to integrate. And I especially loved this quote:

“Justin Reich is a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and the founder of EdTechTeacher, a professional development consultancy that trains teachers to use tech effectively. The goal of flipping a classroom, he says, is not to bend education to the digital proclivities of kids, but to maximize student-teacher interaction during the most demanding lessons. “It’s about how we use our time more than how we use our technology,” Reich says.”

“It’s more how we use our time than how we use our technology” If I could stamp this on the front page of every strategic ICT presentation I give from here to tomorrow, then I still wouldn’t have used it enough. Our society has grown so used to being able to access what we need, when we need it, how we need it. We’ve built in flexibility and differentiation to help us process the world around, usually aided through a technology tool. And the driving factor in doing most of that is to help us live more efficiently and effectively with the time we have here on Earth. While getting “flipped out” might grow out of fashion, I’m glad and excited to try this fall, ways to help our adult learners continue getting the PD they need in ways that hopefully help grow their time and impact for the work they do.

Read the SW article or better yet, attend a master class and let me know what you think of the experience.

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