The Flipped Classroom – Real Potential or Educational Fad?

I read an article in the Globe and Mail recently. The article mentioned Graham Johnson, a teacher at Okanagan Mission Secondary school in Kelowna, B.C., who has given up “lecturing” his students and instead turned to delivering basic instruction using pre-recorded video lessons which could be accessed from a student’s home. Essentially, Mr. Johnson has turned to the “Flipped Classroom” model. As many educators know this model essentially removes the teacher as the “sage on the stage” and has them instead act as a true facilitator of learning.

In this model, students work at their own pace and take control of their own learning, while the teacher acts as a support – guiding students on how to best use resources, providing them with information to extend their learning and ensuring they remain engaged. Basic lessons are delivered through the use of multi-media, and the teacher can concentrate on working directly with students. The flipped classroom is described in more detail in Clayton Christensen’s book, Disrupting Class. I just purchased the book  and hope to find the time to give it a read soon.

I’m not sure if the Flipped Classroom is the way to go. However as a former administrator at a secondary school where students learned following a highly successful self-directed model, I know the real potential of empowering students to take control of their own learning by providing them opportunities to learn at their own pace. The Flipped Classroom may prove to be yet another educational fad, but its core premise of allowing students to direct their own learning has real merit. The world has changed and as educators we need to recognize this change and adapt accordingly. These days I find myself often hearkening back to the old Chinese proverb, “Do not confine your children to your own learning, for they were born in another time.”

Wise words remain wise even when the times have changed so radically.

A Radical Approach to Teaching Students in a Digitial Age

Disrupting Class

Infographic on the Flipped Classroom


Principals and Twitter

Tomorrow a colleague and I are running an information session for a number of Principals interested in exploring the use of Twitter in their school communities. When I was a Principal of a high school I started using Twitter on a limited basis to communicate with parents, teachers and students.  My Twitter feed was embedded in the school webpage and it allowed me to send quick announcements, congratulatory messages or real time updates–and I could do so from just about anywhere thanks to my Blackberry. It was a way to inform the community and celebrate the school.

Recently, I read an article about Eric Sheninger (@NMHS_Principal), the Principal at New Milford High School in New Jersey. Mr. Sheninger’s use of Twitter as an educational leader left me greatly impressed and put my own modest efforts to shame. I used Twitter as a means of simply sending out information. He uses Twitter to make connections and develop a dialogue.

For most educational leader Twitter still has an egocentric reputation as a medium used by individuals who want to let everyone know they are walking the dog. The power of Twitter as a tool that can be used to enhance educational leadership is a concept that for the majority has not yet been full realized or even explored.

Tomorrow’s session will be an introduction to Twitter for most in attendance. Below are some resources that will help in our efforts.

Dowload Official Blackberry Twitter App

    21st Century Learning – Not Just About Technology

    This week I had the pleasure of attending a gathering of about 30 teachers who are using IT to do some pretty innovative things with their students. I had another meeting early that morning, and by the time I arrived the session was well on its way. What I saw impressed me immediately. The presentations were over and teachers were spread around the room–facing each other and sharing promising practices. They were using laptops, blackberries, iPads and tablets. They were processing what they had learned from their colleagues, and were discussing ways to take that knowledge and adapt it for their own classroom. They were moving from group to group and adding to different conversations. They were working collaboratively, sharing and building knowledge and innovating all at the same time. In other words they were collaborating, communicating and creating. What I saw was not dependent on technology, but the technology was helping to facilitate knowledge building, communication and community. And I knew that once they left, they could leverage that same technology to keep the conversation alive. This was truly 21st century learning in action.
    21st Century Learning

    Twitter In Education

    More and more, educators are starting to see the value of using Twitter. With teachers, it opens up all sorts of possibilities with their students. With Educational Leaders, it offers opportunities to communicate with their community, provide information to their staff and engage others in dialogue and research. 50 Ideas for Using Twitter in Education is an article that provides some helpful hints for educators thinking of joining the Twitter Universe. I look forward to your tweets!