Friday, May 9, 2014

Applying #Flipclass to Conference Presentations: a Post #TWT14 Reflection

As I finalized my presentation for the Teaching with Technology Conference about flipped learning, previous whispers of doubt started to scream too loudly to ignore. "You are planning to do exactly what you hate about professional development." I'm embarrassed to admit I almost took the easy way out:  a traditional lecture on a nontraditional teaching practice consisting of slides of me yammering about my flipped class, without applying the lessons that I learned from #flipclass. 

Despite the wonderful things I learned at FlipCon13, I wondered why the conference wasn't flipped. I remember asking Jon Bergman and he admitted this was a common question. Fast forward almost one year, I proudly receive an email reminding me to finalize the flipped assignment that accompany my presentation during FlipCon14. Surely, the best way to learn about flipped learning is to experience flipped learning. 

Lodge McCammon gave a wonderful keynote address about flipped learning. He covered most of the same introductory ideas I planned to present at the Teaching with Technology Conference. The video of Lodge presenting in front of a live audience caught my eye. I quickly realized that the entire presentation wasn't a video playing in front of an audience, rather Lodge ingeniously decided to prerecord direct instruction about flipped learning and used the rest of the live presentation to interact with the audience. Between these flipped videos, Lodge used pair-sharing, collaboration, invited audience members to create videos that summarized their group discussion and even reflect on their videos. Lodge applied what he learned from flipclass to his presentation. Direct instruction, which could have taken an hour to present live, was condensed to just a few minutes in video format. The retrieved time was reallocated to interactive activities that transformed the typical zombie audience into critical thinkers, consumers into producers and passive watchers to active participants. 

After viewing Lodge's keynote "presentation", I was unable to follow through with my initial plan in good conscious. I reworked my presentation. I recorded separate videos outlining the key ideas I wanted to convey. Between these videos, I engaged the audience in critical thinking, experience elements of flipped learning and reflect on their learning. Because of this offloading of direct instruction to condensed videos, teachers were able to identify benefits of flipped learning, predict obstacles, offer solutions and ask and answer questions. I also picked up some nuggets of wisdom. In fact, more than half of my presentation were teachers discussing ideas. The most important benefit was the audience experienced how a flipped class could transform a class.

While I'm happy that this was more of a discussion than a presentation, there are a few things I would change so far:
  1. A few timing quarks - the last video went through some important content a bit fast. I wish I'd stress the links on the introductory slide a bit more and gave some time for folks to copy the link to the presentation and session notes. I also let an early discussion take more time than I should have. This eliminated the feedback time at the end.  
  2. Format - I could've changed the format of each pair-share and discussion. Varying the engagement activities could have displayed more innovative uses of a flipped class.
  3. Practicality - I wonder if my session was too theoretical rather than practical. I mentioned some tools and briefly why/how I used them. This session was more about making the case for flipped learning and sharing models above the limited media definition of flipped learning. (I suppose the title was consistent with my workshop.) 
Despite some of the possible tweaks, I'm grateful that I stumbled on Lodge's video, he reminded me to be true to myself. Thank you!