Colorado teachers Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams were some of the first educators I learned about who are leveraging the power of podcasting, screencasting, and video sharing to “flip” the traditional model of lecture in class and homework at home which predominates in many schools today. In his article “Think Tank: Flip-thinking – the new buzz word sweeping the US” last month for the UK Telegraph, Dan Pink coined the term “the Fisch Flip” for this model: “Lectures at night, homework during the day,” detailing Colorado educator Karl Fisch‘s use of this model. Karl received a spike in blog traffic last month as a result of this mainstream press coverage. These are all superb developments, because EVERY educator as well as student should understand the power of “the Fisch Flip.”

Today I had the opportunity to spend time visiting with teachers and students at Holland Christian Schools in Holland, Michigan. One highlight of my day was the following five minutes of sharing by Holland Christian Schools’ chemistry teacher Dale Eizenga. Dale explained how access to a variety of technology resources has enabled him to flip the traditional in-class lecture and at-home assignment model of learning. Using software and websites, Dale records many lessons for students and makes those screencast videos available online and via the school’s podcast channel.

Several things are notable here. First, Dale didn’t read about Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams, or Karl Fisch, online or in print. He stumbled upon this instructional model when his school provided all teachers and students with a robust digital learning environment. That not only includes access to laptops (for everyone in grades 6-12) but also an online learning management system (Moodle,) robust digital curriculum resources, school-supported options for sharing videos online, AND certified educators supporting technology integration. There are a lot of ingredients to this situation, and that’s critical to understand.

Secondly, Dale addresses in the video how some students struggle with this SHIFT to a “lecture at home on video” model. Dale still shares some lectures in class with students. He mixes it up. Dale explains this model forces students to “own their learning” in ways they may not have needed to in a traditional lecture-in-class setting. Dale relates this as “more of a college model,” where students are responsible for THEIR OWN learning. Dale explains his instructional role as one where he surrounds students with learning resources, and then assists students as they access / utilize those resources. When students aren’t “getting it,” he’s able to talk with them to find out if they’ve watched the podcast video which applies to the current topic or skill, and find out what students need specifically to master new content.

Dale primarily uses Skitch and Screencast-O-Matic to create online resources for his students. Instead of uploading screencasts to Moodle, which has file size limits on the server, he is utilizing Podcast Producer (an Apple server product) to upload videos into a podcast channel to which students can “subscribe” using iTunes on their laptops. This has made the screencasts much easier for students to find, download and use as needed.

One thing Dale mentioned after I stopped recording this video was that he’s found students benefit not just from seeing HIM work through sample problems, but also from seeing their peers work through sample problems– especially when they get “stuck,” and he’s there to help them work through to an answer. Those sticking points are often common for students, and it can be great to see how students work through those issues– and that helps others do the same thing. Darren Kuropatwa‘s use of scribe blog posts, explained in detail on the three part podcast series shared by November Learning, came to mind as Dale was discussing how technology can help fill these “gaps” in student understanding.

Have teachers in your school tried the Fisch Flip? The Bergmann / Sams Flip? The Eizenga Flip? It’s less important teachers know the “name” of this model: It’s more important we all understand how it is POSSIBLE and how it can be transformative for student learning. Is it easier or harder to teach when you flip traditional lecture and homework routines? I’m betting it’s harder initially in terms of preparation and work. In the long run, however, it sounds like many educators are finding it more effective and more rewarding. This is an important model to not only understand but also TRY personally. Kahn Academy founder Salman Kahn is demonstrating this vividly with over 1800 free videos now available on his site. While Salman is not a classroom teacher, Jonathan, Aaron, Karl and Dale ARE. The critical question is not, “Is this easier for me as a teacher,” but rather “Can this be more effective for student learning?” That answer appears to be a resounding YES.

Share the “lecture homework flip model” with other teachers you know, and challenge yourself as well as them to give it a try. Join and encourage other educators to join the Teacher Vodcasting Network. Don’t have a 1:1 laptop setting for your students or robust, “just in time” technology support to assist you? Have your administrator give me a call. I’ll be glad to come over and give your school board members a pep talk about why empowering educators to facilitate student learning with these kinds of blended models is essential in the classrooms of the 21st century. :-)

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See the following for more on this topic:

  1. My January 2006 post, “The Synchronous Non-interactive Fallacy,” addressed this challenge as well as opportunity of making classtime much more interactive thanks to video sharing options and other blended learning technologies.
  2. My January 2009 post, “Making homework into classwork with mastery learning” includes a video and more information specific to this model as Jonathan and Aaron are sharing it.
  3. My September 2009 post, “Interactive technology access does not guarantee good teaching and learning” shares why SMU Dean Jose Bowen encourages faculty to “teach naked.” (make in-class learning more interactive, and end power-pointlessness)

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  • http://educationalvodcasting.com Jonathan Bergmann

    Aaron Sams and I are humbled to see how what we started has grown. It is cool to see that somebody else did it without hearing about our experimnent.

    We regularly have folks visit our classroom to see what the buzz is all about. If anybody wants to visit, feel free to contact us. It truly has transformed not only our classes

  • http://thefischbowl.blogspot.com Karl Fisch

    Nice description. Let’s please not call it the “Fisch Flip.” Daniel Pink thought that was a nice turn of phrase, but I’m not the originator or anywhere near the best practitioner of this. Jonathan and Aaron have developed this much more and would be the go-to folks I would recommend.

  • http://see.ludwig.lajuntaschools.org Chris Ludwig

    Dale is right on with his approach to learning, that we need to surround students with resources and allow them to navigate them in their own way that helps them learn. I think some of the resistance to the “flipped” model is the tech side, the “I can’t vodcast” argument. Just remind yourself or your fellow teachers that these resources are often just as available to your students as they are to Dale’s. I send my students to lots of other teacher’s resources because there is a lot of great stuff out there and for me to recreate it would be a waste of my time. So while we are not flipped to the extent that Dale, Bergmann/Sams, or Fisch are, my students are learning from experts, although that expert might not always be me.

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  • http://www.wesfryer.com Wesley Fryer

    Karl, Jonathan and others: What term do you think is best to to describe this – just “flipping lecture/homework?”

  • http://educationalvodcasting.com Jonathan Bergmann

    We have called it the “reverse classroom,” but lately it has been the “flipped classroom.” We just submitted a book propsoal to a publisher detailing what we have observed. The proposed title is: Flip Your Classroom: Learning in the 21st Century. In it we detail how we flipped the classroom, and how we then took it a step (a big step) forward with a full on indiviualized mastery program where all students of all abilities are learning.

  • http://www.wesfryer.com Wesley Fryer

    Awesome, so glad to hear the book is coming too! I’ll use those terms in future posts. :-)

  • http://www.electriceducator.blogspot.com John Sowash

    Hi Wes, nice to see you in Holland. I am using the reverse instruction (my preferred term!) in my high school Anatomy and Physiology class. I put a blog post up about it a couple of months ago: http://electriceducator.blogspot.com/2010/09/flip-your-classroom-through-reverse.html

    You can also view the class wiki page here: https://southfieldchristian.wikispaces.com/Anatomy+%26+Physiology

  • http://www.flvs.net Jennifer Henderson

    I just heard about “flipping instruction” in a training I
    gave in Flint, MI yesterday to the school district administrators
    around the state. I will be providing the one-day initial exposure
    to teachers all over MI who would like to use the Florida Virtual
    School courses the state is providing free to them through a grant.
    This would be an absolutely wonderful pairing of reversing the
    traditional instructional model with online learning in a blended
    classroom and plan on using it in my presentation to teachers. You
    might want to include a part in the book about how well this works
    with online courses since the student has access to the entire
    course day and night. The teacher could be responsible for
    assigning the lessons for the evenings and the student can return
    the next day to practice with the instructor present. If you’d like
    to discuss, feel free to contact me!

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