Flipping helps faculty get more personalized support, provides community

flipped-PD-facultyThe recent focus on flipping courses for students highlights the multiple benefits this method of teaching and learning can provide. However, faculty, otherwise known as perpetual students, can benefit from this method through professional development (PD).

But how do you actually flip PD? In much the same way a professor would flip course material, with a few slight adjustments; for example, in offering IT or other departmental specialists on-hand for expertise and support.

By looking to flipped PD experts, as well as multiple resources on the subject, this article examines why flipping PD is beneficial to educators, especially when learning to implement different education technologies.

Skipping the more general characteristics of ‘good’ PD—making sure your WiFi connection works, providing an exit survey—you’ll learn about 6 keys that craft a great flipped PD session.

Have tips or advice of your own? Be sure to leave your comments in the section provided below, email me at mstansbury@ecampusnews.com, or find me @eSN_Meris on Twitter.

(Next page: 6 tips on how to flip PD)

1. Complete busy work before the session.

Many PD sessions today require logins to different types of software, a process that should be completed pre-session.

Also, knowing how you’re going to group participants based on skill level and/or subject taught, as well as the design of content in the PD session, should happen pre-session.

Many times, novice flipped PD instructors think that the openness of the session means simply answering questions in person, but a structure should be in place that includes actual practice for the participants, which is the true perk of the flipped model.

2. Pre-session material should be multimedia-packed.

Prior to the PD sessions, instructors should provide an agenda with multiple resource links, including various interactive media (videos, digital tools, et cetera). This can not only provide a more personalized learning experience for the participant (see tip #3), but can help the participant to see how the tools they will learn about can be used.

“One of the goals I had for creating the agenda was to use digital tools from the start,” said Laura Conley, PD facilitator at Clarksville High School, creator of the Flipped PD website, and weekly moderator of #flippedPD chat each Thursday evening at 8 central time (@lconley86), in an article for Getting Smart. “I wanted to be able to model the use of these tools and maximize the time we had with each group. From the feedback in the emails, I decided on creating an infographic and making it interactive by linking the items on the agenda to videos, websites, and other digital tools. [Participants] would have the opportunity to take a look at what they would be learning in their workshop by simply clicking on the links in the agenda.”

3. Digital tools/resources should be personalized.

In most cases, there’s a multitude of multimedia resources available to teach your subject, but choosing high-quality and highly-specific videos, infographics, interactive photos, and more, is important.

“Coaches [should] provide teachers with personalized digital content that is relevant to their personal goals, whether they are tutorial videos, website links or other digital assets,” explained Kristin Daniels, education technology consultant for TIES in St. Paul, MN, for EdSurge.

Daniels recommends technology tools that make it easy to create a collection of customized resources, such as Google Docs/Sites, BlendspacePinterest, and LiveBinders. She also recommends Screencast-o-maticSnagit for ChromeExplain Everything, and MoveNote for creating content in-the-moment.

“Teachers enjoy watching digital content that is clear and concise. Videos should not be longer than 5 minutes, and some even suggest 2 minutes,” she noted. “The exploration of digital content has brought interesting and unique uses of digital content, as well. For example, coaches can provide links to a Google Hangout On Air recording, archived Twitter chats, or captured conversations.”

Daniels’ incredibly ambitious district in MN has its own groups of personalized videos for PD. The district produces four types of videos:

  • “Proactive” videos are tutorials covering the basics of the district’s most-used technology tools
  • “Reactive” videos are created in response to a specific request
  • “Spontaneous capture” videos document best practices, project ideas, and success stories
  • “Individual backpack” videos are raw, unedited snippets created on the fly to answer specific questions.

(Next page: 4-6)

4. Context matters.

Part of offering flipped PD means making the experience more personal, and, therefore, more productive and meaningful. Part of personalization means catering specifically to content area of focus for faculty, course objectives and personal interests.

“We don’t come in dictating what they’re here to learn and work on,” Daniels said. “When they realize they’re being given time to think about what they want to be doing, and to grow at their own pace, they’re absolutely relieved. And there’s been a remarkable shift in attitude toward personal growth because of that.”

5. Have experts/specialists at the session.

Having time for practice in the PD session means participants can also have access to tool/technique experts, or specialists from the campus that can help.

For example, if a faculty member needs to work with an IT specialist for implementation of a MOOC, have the IT specialist there to answer any questions.

6. Create community for post-session

Just like with online learning, having a community of learners interested in the topic helps to not only cement what was just learned, but continue to motivate those interested in learning.

“Teachers are greatly impacted by the work of their colleagues,” said Daniels. “The shared stories, projects and reflections of one teacher are often the ‘sparks,’ or starting points, for another. Learning is collaborative in nature, and flipped PD provides authentic opportunities for collaboration based on grade level, content area or interest.”

Daniels also noted that PD instructors can guide faculty into these collaborative opportunities or other appropriate professional networks.

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