Let’s be clear: the flipped classroom is a great teaching tool that takes advantage of emerging technologies. Flipping education should be our real goal, and it has less to do with technology than with mindset.
This new word “flipped” in our common education lexicon is both useful and appropriate, but what does it really mean? With respect to classrooms it means using precious face time resources on those learning tasks that need face time, and spending alone or computer time on other learning mechanisms. This is the same flip that our educational ancestors undertook a couple of hundred years ago when they got access to the new technology called “textbooks”.
Let’s leverage our new slang and its image up a level. “Flipping” is really about significantly altering an existing model that no longer most efficiently and effectively aligns our resources with our objectives. When we now say “let’s flip our faculty meetings” or “flip our board meetings”, I REALLY hope we are not talking about just emailing the materials in advance or creating a podcast to be viewed outside of the meeting. Those are good tools, but they are just tools. We need to flip how we approach the problem of how we learn, create, transfer, and manage knowledge in the process of education.
Flips for teachers will include re-drawing the teacher-student-knowledge relationship from teacher to learning-centric; designing the learning stream around questions instead of answers; engaging student passion through the creation of dissonance rather than standards-driven curriculum; teacher and student-created course materials as a replacement of textbooks; learning outside the physical classroom, in a design studio, a local business, a research lab, a village in a developing country, or a community garden.
For administrators, cross-functional job responsibilities are a flip, as are intensive inter-scholastic or intra-scholastic PLC’s; management 2.0 practices; customer-centric program development; assessing teachers based on their learning; creating organizational innovation structures.
These flips are not technology-focused; they are value-focused. They more effectively and efficiently align resources with our new understandings and goals, just like flipped classrooms do. Great teachers and administrators around the world, too numerous for shout-outs here, are engaged in all of these today; others merely have to access the knowledge base and engage themselves. Let’s not stop at flipped classrooms; let’s use that model and mindset to completely line up our precious resources of time, money, people, and brainpower with our timeless learning goals.
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