Types of flipping efforts
Posted September 15, 2015on:
As I survey local flipped classroom and flipped learning ventures, and work with educators involved with these efforts, I have observed at least three patterns. There are the:
- Lone wolves
- Pockets of innovators
- Coordinated efforts
The lone wolves are the most common. They are mostly energetic and fairly informed individual who chose to work alone or do so under the circumstances. They do this because they are the peripheral innovators and/or they do not have support.
Every organization has lone wolves and innovators, but they are not the same thing. I am referring to flippers who are both. They work faster and are willing to try and make mistakes alone.
But this asset is also their greatest liability. The run the highest risk of burnout or moving from one cool thing to do to another. They also risk being socially marginalized in their organizations if they are perceived to be aloof or too clever.
I have noticed lone wolf flipping die out within months. Most efforts are not sustainable because there is only one battery and bulb in a very dark room.
The pockets of innovators may or may not include lone wolves. They might be led by a former lone wolf. These are best represented by group of three to five teachers who share a common academic interest.
These pockets are likely to have the support of higher ups and their flipping efforts revolve around lesson planning and preparing videos for students. They might work semester to semester or have year-long plans. They deal only with their content area and for a selection of classes (rarely an entire level).
Managed and supported well the pockets of innovators become coordinated efforts. The innovators might share their stories with others within their school or to a larger audience. Others buy in or are roped in by a school leader.
The flipping efforts cross academic subjects and involve entire levels of students. If ambitious enough, a coordinator of such flipping efforts might implement plans for other levels of students.
Such coordinated efforts are few. Even fewer are successful stories. Larger teams might mean more complex innovation because the small team efforts do not always scale up. A wise coordinator will realize this and manage pockets with a larger fabric.
There is a variant of coordinated efforts that could involve more than one school. This is practically non-existent as many schools here operate like Apple and Google. They do not share secrets.
This is a shame because schools do not have to be like that. Fortunately, there is an emerging level that is higher than that takes advantage of the first two categories. Educators on social media already connect on Twitter with hashtags like #flipclass or visit any of the repositories on flipping to learn from each other.
I might seem to imply that there is a better way to manage flipping efforts, but the different circumstances shape what different educators do.
The only thing I can say with certainty is that most focus on flipping their classrooms instead of flipping the learning. The latter is better   because it nurtures the truly independent learner, changes pedagogy, and leverages on technology powerfully and meaningfully.