And just like that, as quickly as it began, FlipCon was over. As I indicated yesterday, the conference offered quite a lot for those unfamiliar with more contemporary buzzwords, though it was not significantly different from any sort of Gamified/Flipped/Project-Based/Mastery Presentation I've seen in the past. In fact, as compelling as some of the ideas were today, I can see just how easy it is to over idealize them, and get caught up on terminology and buzzwords.
For example, today alone I heard about "Flipped 101", "Flipped-Mastery". "Explore-Flip-Apply", "Peer Instruction", and "Just-In-Time". I'd heard all of these words before in the abstract, but it turns out these are all separate denominations of the Flipped Philosophy. If you're going to join the "movement", you can start on "traditional" flipped but then you ultimately must choose which method you'll follow when you grow up. Some people have even started to merge these methods leading to hybrid models!
While the buzzwords are fine, they certainly do no harm, I think it's very easy to overlook things as we enslave ourselves to certain methods. No single method is going to be adequate for teaching all things. Project-based learning is excellent...but it's tough to incorporate difficult, specific, time-intensive background content. Gamification is my personal favorite...but anything with mastery can lead to time management issues. Even Flipped Learning in general doesn't automatically make school engaging, exciting, fun...and honestly, maybe that's ok. I heard a quote today "if students aren't excited to come in your door and participate, that's on you. That's your fault". I understand the message (make school student centered, dynamic, and engaging), but I think anyone in secondary will know that not everything can be science fair explosions, or filming a video. Sometimes school, and life HAS to be a little boring. Sometimes there will be students who, for no fault of their own, just won't like English. I think of myself: I was a pretty good student in high school, but I did not care at all about Calculus. I wanted an "A", I settled for a "B", but ultimately, I knew I was just renting the content. The teacher was excellent, she explained the content well, the class was engaged...but Calculus is hard! While I cared about it... I never cared about it that much. I don't think if it had been more "fun", or if I had been tricked into doing math problems in order to bake a hypothetical cake, I would have liked it more.
I think the biggest thing to take from a conference like this is that ultimately, you have to be yourself. Take a few tools, a few ideas, and a few techniques...but it's impossible, and likely counter productive to do everything. We all want our classes to be perfect, and we all have a way of presenting the better sides of our experiences...but teaching never goes as planned. Time to start processing the information...and taking it from theory to practice.
English Teacher | Instructional Technology Specialist | 2014-15 PBS Digital Innovator | Gamification Researcher | Marathon Runner | Ph.D RMU 2015