One of the leading topics in educational technology over the past five years has been the idea of using video to flip your classroom. This involves the teacher creating a series of videos that students watch at home. These videos explain the content and are viewed in place of traditional homework assignments. This allows the teachers to work with the students during class time to work through assignments together rather than students struggling alone when they might not understand a concept.
What has only received limited attention is the idea of using this same strategy with teachers to deliver effective professional development. It is well documented that professional development is more effective when teachers have the time to practice with the tools alongside their peers and being actively engaged (van den Bergh, Ros, and Beijaard, 2015). The ‘Sit and Get’ method of professional development just doesn’t engage today’s teachers.
One strategy that deserves significant attention and trial is Flipped PD. Teachers are assigned videos to view and/or articles and other materials to read and review at home. Allowing these professionals to complete these activities at a time and location that best fits their schedule is, among other things, a sign of respect to these professionals. The traditional faculty meeting and workshop time can then be dedicated to guided practice with experienced colleagues. Teachers can use this time to create useful products that will immediately translate into resources for their classroom. Particularly with experienced Instructional Technology Coaches leading these ‘working’ sessions, the gains that teachers could make in the integration of technology, or any other professional learning delivered in this manner, could be revolutionary.
Figure 1: Educators collaborating to Flip learning during EdCamp
Will there be those teachers that do not complete the assigned activities and arrive unprepared? Of course, but this is the same situation as if a student came unprepared to class. A student repeatedly coming to class unprepared is a discipline issue. Conversely, a teacher coming unprepared is a personnel issue. An effective administrator should be able to mediate this situation and convey the importance of teacher preparedness.
A wide variety of tools exist to make to help coaches and administrators effectively integrate flip PD into the professional learning activities of a school. Various screencasting tools are available that allow for the quick creation of how to videos. More creative efforts can be produced using tools such as GoAnimate4Schools. GoAnimate is a fun and engaging tool that can be particularly useful for conveying the relatively boring and mundane policy updates that must be covered throughout the year. The animated characters and conversational nature of these videos can model the effective implementation of policies in a way that will be humorous but effective for the adult learner.
Each of these tools could be partnered with existing Learning Management Systems to verify completion by teachers and even to follow the videos with required assessments. This strategy would fulfill the requirements of accreditation agencies but would also provide an alternative for those dedicated teachers that are also struggling to fit in all of the preparation for their classes while meeting the needs of their families. Show your teachers respect by giving them the opportunity to stay abreast of the latest educational changes while also enjoying their family life.
Keith George is the Educational Technology Specialist for the Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative, a program of the Alabama State Department of Education. He is an educator with over 20 years in the field. Keith blogs at www.bigtechcoach.com and you can follow him on Twitter @bigtechcoach.