Stepping Up: Pursuing “the Gold Standard” for Flipped Training

The Community April / Uncategorized / April 2, 2018

-by Errol St.Clair Smith-


Have you noticed how hard it is to do the right things with the wrong people?  No matter what you are driving to achieve, “getting the right people on the bus” changes everything. So says Jim Collins, author of the best-selling book Good to Great. With the right people, great things are possible. With the wrong people, we struggle to achieve “good enough” and today, good enough is increasingly not good enough. No one explains this better than Jim:

“Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great…. We don’t have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.”

Yes, Jim’s words were ringing in my ears during the 2016 conference call with Margo Metcalf and Val Macaulay, our Flipped Learning training partners in Australia. The dynamic duo from down under had already organized and hosted a good, (correction), very good flipped conference the year before. Indeed, it was by far one of the most well managed Flipped Learning conferences ever held. The reviews were good,  the content was good, the quality of attendees was good. So good, in fact, that  it was hard to ignore that growling in the pit of my gut shouting, “Shut up, don’t rock the boat.” But Jim’s words overruled and so began the discussion about how to take our Flipped Learning training from good to great.

The effort started with great news, Margo and Val were the right people. Their training organization, IWBNet, was experienced, accomplished, and growth minded. Most importantly, they were receptive to a radically candid conversation about how we could step up the quality of our Flipped Learning training.  But there were many questions and obstacles. What would it take? What was missing? What did we need to stop doing?  What would we need to start doing? What would we need to continue doing?

Fast Forward

Fourteen months and one flipped conference later we all agreed that stepping up involved at least three things:

— Some level of content standardization.

— All trainers needed to be steeped in the core principles of Flipped Learning.

— Flipped training should ideally be flipped.

That last point really resonated. After all, “if flipped training is so hot, why I am I sitting here listening to you instead of doing something?”  Thought almost everyone who has ever attended a flipped training workshop.

“Flipping” Flipped Training

Flipping Flipped Learning training is one of those ideas that when someone finally voices it, you slap your forehead and say, “Why didn’t I think of that?” The fact is others have, but what makes the IWBNet group extraordinary is that they acted boldly on that thought. Led by Margo’s vision and experience, and supported by a crack team of FLGI certified Flipped Learning trainers, this “Flipped Fraternity” hatched a grand plan to launch 13  two-day workshops in Australia and New Zealand.

Margo developed the agenda for the two days ensuring it linked closely with the standards in the Level-I certification. Aimee Shackleton, an FLGI International Faculty member, and member of the Flipped Fraternity led the team of trainers to help bring the workshops to fruition.

Day One:  The focus was on the Individual Space.

Throughout the day attendees learned a range of strategies to develop rich videos that would provide the content for their students. They got hands-on experience with the various tools available and explored ways to make their videos more interactive, engaging and compelling.

Day Two: The focus was on the Group Space.

Jon Bergmann was invited to Skype into the sessions to speak directly with attendees.

Throughout the day, attendees looked at what they could do with the class time they formally used for direct instruction. They explored how to develop better questioning, assessment, and feedback strategies.

The workshop facilitators were available to give the right support to each attendee when they needed help.

Participant Response

Margo at IWBNet tells us that the first “flipped” Flipped Learning training workshops ever opened to the public were well received by attendees and facilitators.

“I have been delighted to take a lead role to bring this project to fruition,”  said Aimee Shackleton. “I was finding that teachers I work with were able to complete the online certification, but what they really needed was time to follow up in a supportive environment and time to create resources for their Flipped Learning journey. These workshops provided this time for participants to create and also the opportunity to meet and work with a group of like-minded teachers in their own city. Feedback from the participants was highly positive and all appreciated the time to create in a supportive environment. Having participants complete the online course before attending ensured that we were able to start work on content creation from the beginning, and there was no need to spend time explaining what Flipped Learning was or convincing participants the method works. All participants were ready and eager from the beginning of the face-to-face workshops. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with other trainers around Australia and New Zealand to create the best workshops we can and look forward to continuing to improve each workshop as it takes place.”

One New Zealand trainer shared a similar assessment of the workshops. “My experience throughout this process has been amazing. From meeting like-minded flippers to creating content, I have enjoyed every minute. I was excited to be contacted by Margo at IWBNet and asked to be involved in this new initiative. It made me feel proud to be recognized for my work in this area.  Being part of the “Flipped Fraternity” has already opened so many new doors and I am continually being motivated and inspired by amazing educators every single day,” said Matt Lambert, one of the other FLGI certified Flipped Learning trainers.

Stepping  Up

The workshops that IWBNet and the Flipped Fraternity hosted  this month were several levels up on any of flipped training  FLGI has ever delivered in the past:

Fully Flipped: All workshop attendees were given access to the FLGI Flipped Learning Level-I  Course two weeks in advance of the workshop. The 10-hour video course taught by Jon Bergmann is the most comprehensive, self-paced introduction to Flipped Learning. The course is delivered in bite-sized 10-15-minute units.

Standardized and Current: As the core instruction in Flipped Learning was delivered through FLGI’s online training platform, the training was consistent, thorough, and based on the most current global research and global best practices.

Active Learning: The workshops involved no direct instruction.  The entire two-day training session was dedicated to active, hands-on learning. The certified flipped instructors came alongside every attendee and provided the kind of differentiated support not typically available.

Create Time: The workshops solved one of the biggest barriers to teachers considering Flipped Learning, finding the time to learn the tools and create video courses. Every workshop attendee left with tools they could use to start flipping their lessons the next school day.

Support and Ongoing Support: FLGI teacher surveys reveal that initial and ongoing support are two of the biggest barriers to a successful transition to Flipped Learning. Attendees received face-to-face support during the workshop.  To provide on-going support, attendees were enrolled in online support groups at the Flipped Learning Innovation Center (FLIC).

Local Accreditation: The workshops and the online certification course are approved for continuing education credits by the  NSW Education Standards Authority.

Internationally Recognized Certification:   All attendees received the internationally recognized  Flipped Learning Level-I Certification issued by the Flipped Learning Global Initiative.

Closer to the Gold

These flipped Flipped Learning workshops are a quantum leap above what was available just months earlier.  They include many of the v 1.0 Flipped Learning training standards recently adopted by FLGI and 19 schools, and universities around the world.  They are a step away from roll-the-dice Flipped Learning training, toward a consistent standard of training based on the latest global research and global best practices.

Bravo to Margo Metcalf, Aimee Shackleton, Matt Lambert, Beth Lamb, and the rest of the Flipped Fraternity for raising the bar for all of us. They have moved us one step closer to the gold standard for flipped training.

Training Opportunities 

If you live down under and would like to level up your Flipped Learning skills, you can attend one of the flipped Flipped Learning workshops scheduled in Australia and New Zealand through the rest of 2018.  Learn more here.

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Errol St.Clair Smith
I am the Director of Global Development at the Flipped Learning Global Initiative. I joined the education community in 2005, working closely with national education organizations on community outreach and professional development. Over the last decade, I’ve led the development of community platforms for The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE); the Association of Curriculum Developers (ASCD); the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), the International Reading Association (IRA), the National Associations for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the National Association of School Nurses (NASN), the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), the National Parent Teachers Association (NPTA), and the Association of School Business Officials (ASBO). I'm honored to have received four Emmy nominations and an Emmy Award for public affairs programming. In 2017 I co-authored Flipped Learning 3.0 with Jon Bergmann. The book was updated based on the AALAS Global Elements of Effective Flipped Learning in 2019.

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on April 17, 2018

I like the continuous focus on getting better, being great. My question is what’s next? How will the next conference be even greater? I know that it has already crossed your mind. You mentioned that we are one step closer. How will you know when you are there?

on June 26, 2018

Errol, this is a great move to get teachers off to a solid start with flipped learning. Everyone hears the same fundamental information from certification course as prep, and benefits from expert guidance during the workshop. CE credit shows the efforts of teachers who are improving their teaching practice. Ultimately, their students will benefit from an interactive, engaging, and meaningful teaching and learning experience.

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