The Next Hurdles to Overcome in Flipping Your Class

pic1By Jon Bergmann.                  

I have been leading flipped class workshops for many years and as I have worked with thousands of teachers, I have identified several hurdles that need to be overcome for teachers and schools to implement the flipped class model in their schools.  In a previous blog, I talked about the number one hurdle: that of flipping the mind of the teacher.  We must rethink what class looks like.  If this hurdle is not overcome the rest of the hurdles will not matter.  In this series of posts I will highlight the other three hurdles, which need to be overcome before you flip your class.

We’ve addressed the first hurdle to flipping your class here, which specifically deals with class time. Once teachers have flipped their thinking about class time, the second hurdle they need to overcome is the issue of technology.  Many teachers are not completely comfortable using technology.  The thought of creating or curating video content for their students is a daunting task.

My experience is that technology often is too complex.  There are too many buttons and too many steps for most educators.  They have been trained in child psychology and development, pedagogy, content, and technology.  The problem with technology is that it is always changing.  Keeping up with technological change is overwhelming for most educators and they need simple solutions so they can get to the important part of education, which I believe is interacting and connecting with their students.

How do we overcome this barrier?  First, I call upon the makers of educational technology to make their products “crazy-easy” to use.  Manufacturers should design their products with the end-user in mind.  Teacher end-users may not be “techies,” so please think through the design.

What do you minimally need technologically to flip your class? I see two types of software you need to learn to use.  Since most teachers flip their classes with videos, they need both a way to create videos and a way for students to access videos.  I have seen effective use of video cameras to flip your classroom.  If you want a video, then you might use your smart phone or a dedicated video camera. The other video creation category is screencasting programs where videos are made of your computer or iPad screen and at the same time recording your voice.  My recommendation is that you find one tool that works and you learn to use it well.

You can also mix and match tools.  See my post about how I used Doceri, Telagami, and iMovie for the iPad to create a video.

The second technology piece to master is hosting and posting your videos on the web so your students can access them.  If YouTube is not blocked, you can create a YouTube channel and post your videos there.  There are other sites on which videos can be hosted, such as screencast.com, vimeo.com, and teachertube.com.  Each of these platforms have advantages and disadvantages.

If you really want to make accessing your content easy for your students, which you should, I recommend that a school invest in a learning management system.

The Third Hurdle to Flipping Your Class

This post is a continuation on my series of the Four Biggest Hurdles to Flipping Your Class.  I began the series with a discussion about the biggest hurdle:  Flipping the thinking of the educator.  Before a teacher flips, they must be convinced that there must be a better way than the didactic method of lecture, notes, test.  You can read more about this hurdle here.  The second hurdle is the technology hurdle.  Teachers must have the knowledge, training, and expertise to navigate the technology hurdle.  You can read about that here. The third hurdle to flipping your class is TIME.

I get it, teachers are overworked and do not have enough time to do the things assigned to them now.  When they first encounter the flipped classroom model, many feel that it will require too much.  It seems like one more thing to do.  They have to not only grade papers, create engaging lessons, call parents, meet with students, and attend meetings, but now they’re supposed to create and/or curate all of these flipped learning objects (usually videos) too.  Argh!

To this, all I can say is yes, it does take extra time.  I realise that I am encouraging teachers to work harder and longer.  But the rewards will be great.  Students’ learning will increase and they will become more engaged.  You will get to know your students better both cognitively and affectively.

That said, and this is where I see administrators can jump in and help.  There are ways for a school to give teachers time.  I have seen too many schools with too many initiatives.  Some call it Initiative Fatigue.  If a school were to really embrace flipped learning, the built in staff PD time could be focused on implementing flipped learning.  If a school has Professional Learning Teams, this would be a great use of that time.  See my post about Flipping the PLT time. Another way administrators can give back time to those teachers who want to flip is to hire substitute teachers for a day.  What if your principal hired two substitute teachers and you and a colleague spent the day creating flipped video content? There are also other ways to “give” teachers time.  Do you need two teachers in every room when you are doing state testing?  Could teachers be released to work on flipped learning projects?  If there are two teachers who are implementing flipped learning, could they be given common planning time to work and prepare the content?

Aaron Sams and I once worked with a district, which won a grant whereby teachers who were paid extra money if they worked for the grant.  The grant was to implement mastery learning (especially the flipped-mastery model).  They realised that time was the critical variable.  So each teacher who was in the program clocked their hours making flipped content and they were paid some extra money for their work.

Ultimately, the issue of time comes down to priorities.  What a school emphasizes is what gets done.  So, for those administrators reading this, I encourage you to make flipped learning a priority and then you will find ways to give teachers the time necessary to implement this with excellence.  And for those teachers who don’t have that luxury, all I can say is that if you invest the time, you will reap great benefits.

For those of you who have flipped your class, how have you overcome the time hurdle?  Answer in the comment section below.

The Fourth Hurdle to Flipping Your Class

So here is the Fourth Hurdle to Flipping Your Class, which is the final one in my series. To review:

  • Thinking: Flipping the thinkingof educators about how to maximize class time by implementing flipped learning. Read the full post here.
  • Technology: Helping educators navigate thetechnicalaspects of Flipped Learning. Read the full post here.
  • Time: Timeis such a big issue for our overworked teachers. Read the full post here.

Training is the fourth hurdle. Many teachers and schools need professional development in the area of Flipped Learning. In the fall of 2012 the “Speak Up” survey polled teachers and 3% of them stated they had started to flip their classrooms, but 18% wanted to start. 27% of administrators reported that they were interested in starting some sort of a Flipped Learning pilot.

John Diamond from Harvard conducted research about what influences teachers to change their practice.  It can be summarized in the following chart. Essentially, teachers change when they hear from other teachers, not from administrators, or even the standards.  Bringing in outside experts is not always the best idea and is often met with skepticism and resistance.

I believe that for the most part, if you want systemic change, you need coaches who can come alongside teachers and provide necessary training. This is especially true with Flipped Learning. It is a new teaching method with a limited number of practitioners and many schools don’t have enough teachers who have flipped their classes.

I believe that a train the trainer model is the best way to address this issue.  Get a small group of teachers to flip their classes and then expand the program using the success of your pilot. So, how do you train your trainers?  There are several options:

  • Bring in a teacher who has successfully flipped his or her classroom, and has been trained to help others do that successfully.
  • Send teachers to Flipped Learning workshopsor host one at your school or in your district.
  • Send teachers to the Flipped Learning Network’s Annual Conference -FlipCon14 – June 22-25, 2014 near Pittsburgh.
  • Lead a book study of Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day.

If you are looking for outside help, I have a solution. Aaron Sams and I have re-unified our efforts and have formed a consulting firm in which we are offering quality on-site and virtual training to teachers, administrators, schools, districts, universities, and corporations to meet the demand for training. Our team has conducted countless workshops and presentations about Flipped Learning since 2008, working with a wide variety of groups. Our website is flippedclass.com and we encourage you to go there to learn and to reach out to us for your professional development needs.

So my questions for you today are:

  • Do you feel you have adequate in-house trainers to prepare your staff (or you personally) to implement Flipped Learning?
  • For those of you who are using Flipped Learning, to what extent did outside experts help you as your flipped your class?

To see Jon Bergmann in action with Aaron Sams, register for FlipCon Australia 2015 which will be at Saint Stephen’s College, Coomera, QLD, on 22, 23 and 24 October 2015. For more information and to register, go to: http://ereg.me/FlipConAUS15

 

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