I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at FlipTech East Coast 2018 last weekend and in all honesty, I’m still processing everything. The conference was put together by the great folks at the Flipped Learning Network and to my knowledge, it was the first one they have had on the east coast.
Before I dive into the conference itself, I want to talk about flipped learning or the flipped classroom in general. If you have never heard of it before a quick rundown of flipped learning can be stated as
video lessons recorded by the teacher and assigned to the students for homework. Then in class, the students work on their traditional homework with the teacher there so that they can get instant assistnace.
I’m a very big believer of the use of video to aid classroom instruction and to help guide student success. I’ve been recording video for my students since I started teaching eight years ago but I’ve never gone full flip. I think that’s about to change.
To begin with, it was a small conference. I have attended PETE&C for the past eight years and that conference has around 3,000 educators attending. By contrast, FlipTech was around 125 educators. And it was perfect. The smaller size made sure that you were able to attend all of the session that you wanted and that you got the chance to interact with everyone attending. I’m a big fan of smaller conferences.
FlipTech was spread over two days that were presented very different. Day one was a traditional conference with planned sessions, and known topics of discussion. Day two was an unconference were conference attendees decided on topics that they would like to discuss and then participated in discussions on the things that interested them. I’ve never been part of an unconference before and I really liked it. Getting to focus/propose topics that are interesting to you instead of picking from a pre-prepared list is a wonderful way to dive deep on a topic.
On the first day, the keynote speaker was Aaron Sams, the godfather of flipped learning. He shared his journey through flipped learning and how/why he is doing what he is doing today. I’ve heard Aaron speak a number of times and I’ve been in 3+ hour workshops lead by him as well, but this keynote stands out. It was honest, entertaining, and above all, informative.
On the second day, Kelly Walsh talked about different technologies that are coming out along with edtech successes/failures. He works in higher-ed and it’s always interesting to hear how “they” do things. We also learned of his passion for music and how he worked himself up to self-publishing an album. The example of determination and quest for growth were both inspiring and a bit of a call to action.
A Few Takeaways
1. The Community
The flipped community is awesome. Everyone was very welcoming, willing to share ideas, and talked thoughtfully on education. I’m truly thankful to have met some likeminded people who are will to try new things in the name of their students.
2. The Experts
There were some people a the conference who have had their classes flipped for years. The knowledge that they were able to share was invaluable. It’s very reassuring to talk to someone who has already walked the path that you want to begin. The small tips and tricks they were able to share make my path less painful than theirs, and I truly thank them for that.
I wasn’t sure what the crowd would be like at the conference. I was expecting to be one of the few who had not flipped yet, but boy was I wrong. There were a lot of people who have never flipped and really wanted to learn about it. The participant makeup was excellent and mixed well, which allowed ideas and knowledge to flow more easily.
As I said above there are a lot of people who want to flip, or are at least interested in the idea, but they don’t think they have the skills necessary to do so. The Flipped Learning Network does a great job of providing the framework for flipping (see here) but the nuts and bolts of flipping still seems to be more of a free-for-all. I would like to see some more action in bringing the newcomers on board so that the disparity in tech skills can be closed if not eliminated.
As I sit here, two days after the conference ended I’m still allowing a few ideas to marinate. But I do want/need to flip my classes. I am working on outlines for the topics that I need to cover and how to cover them so that I can produce the content needed to flip.
I also really want to work on closing the skills gap. I may not have flipped before but I am comfortable shooting, editing, and producing video content. I already do lots of video work for my students and online courses but I would like to expand. I think there is a need for tutorials on how to create videos for the classroom (both simple and complex) that anyone can digest and use. Most of the time that I was talking to people at FlipTech was spent helping them get up and running with shooting and uploading video from their phones. If that process could be documented and placed online it should prove to be a valuable resource.
I really want to thank the FLN for putting on this conference. It was the most valuable professional growth activity that I did this school year. I have ideas, a rough plan, and new contacts that can assist me in what I want/need to do. I hope that I was able to provide a little value to the conference but I feel like I took away a whole lot more than I gave.
My presentation at the conference is below. If you have any questions please let me know and I will be happy to answer them.