Presentation from ICM 2014

I was able to travel again this year to Germany to attend the Inverted Classroom Model (ICM) conference. Last year, I spoke about teacher approaches to Flipped Learning. I tried to cover all of the content areas to give ideas of how teachers were approaching content and using class time more effectively.

This year, I was able to come and share student responses to flipping. In my last post, I asked for help with a survey, and you all came through! I had over 100 responses (making it a little more legit), with nearly 80% of those coming directly from students. I was able to pull out six major themes to lead a discussion with German educators from all levels. The hour was fantastic, and even included two current university students who were able to speak directly to a group of professors about class time, grading, and the pressures they feel in the classroom. I’ve got some notes I need to digest from the hour we spent together.

There are three things in the folder linked below:

  • The Google form I used to collect responses.
  • You can read through the spreadsheet or use the “View summary” tool in the form itself.
  • The slides from today’s discussion

The images I used in the slides are attributed in the notes for each.

Get the Folder

Finally, I referenced a study completed by the University of Michigan and Michigan State University which questioned whether or not students would use screencasts if there were no external requirement. The Casting Out Nines blog post analyzes the data and includes a link the the published PDF. I wanted to call it out here because it has deep implications for how we approach creating and sharing digital content.

Help! Another Survey!

This Sunday, I’m jetting off to Germany for a one week, three city, two-conference tour with fellow TechSmithie, Anton Bollen. Part of my trip is speaking with German educators about Flipped Learning, and this year, specifically about student responses (both good and bad) to flipping. If you have five minutes to spare, I would really appreciate your help in gathering some very unofficial stories.

There is a section for students and teachers. So, if you’d be willing to share it with your students as well, that would be some great evidence to share next week. Just like the last survey I did, you can fill it out below or on the form itself.

If you’d like to share the form with friends or colleagues, please use so I can track the clicks on it.

Thought Traps

Another cross post, somewhat edited, from a recent MAET assignment. Below is a short reflection (slightly adapted for the post) I wrote comparing Missional Thinking (big idea, goal-based) and Instrumental Thinking (short term, tool-based) in education.

You can see the entire assignment response in my Google Doc

Problem of Practice

Schools are facing a variety of problems, especially concerns over annual budgets. Competing internal and external factors carve up the funds available faster than the Thanksgiving turkey, often leaving very little behind to explore new areas of possibility. Free tools, as a result, are (ironically) at a premium in the education world. Google Apps for Education is, without a doubt, an extremely powerful suite of tools available to schools at no out-of-pocket expense. Budget issues aside, the allure of “free” and what Google Apps offers can lead to narrow thinking and a loss of larger opportunities when it comes to classroom use.


This was a tough assignment for me because the lines between instrumental and missional thinking are so nuanced. At first, I thought the two were woven together, with missional thinking directing the instrumental decisions. Now that I’ve taken nearly a week to think about it more, I’m not so sure that’s the best description. If you’re working as a missional thinker, your decisions will always support the larger goal of the group or organization. If you’re working with an instrumental mindset, the decisions you make will be for your own benefit. There are significant parallels here between the way an Alchemist and Opportunist work.

At first, I thought the two were woven together, with missional thinking directing the instrumental decisions.

I chose the problem of deciding to implement school-wide tools for two reasons. First, I think it is a decision that could fall easily into either camp…it isn’t as clear cut as some of the other ed tech discussions happening right now. Second, Google Apps should be leading to larger discussions of school culture and how technology will influence that, but I don’t hear those very often.

If you open a conference program, you will see no less than 10 or 12 sessions on Google Docs, but rarely a session on how the use of the platform has contributed to meaningful, systemic change within a class or across a district. I struggle to connect or find deeper discussion when tools are simply picked up because they’re free. This discussion could have a lot of great ideas as well as some individual anecdotes, but I wouldn’t expect much more meat than that. The only exception could be a discussion on collaboration, but (and I may sound pessimistic or cynical) “collaboration” is the new term of endearment for student work. Using Google Docs for the sake of collaboration (I honestly think “cooperation” is more descriptive thanks to some thoughts from Dave Tchozewski) is the same as using Google Docs because they’re free.

When having discussions about systemic change, it is so easy to include the name of the tool you’re considering, and I think that would shift the missional thought process into the realm of instrumental thinking. The missional discussion should consider larger truths of digital learning and forward-thinking organizations. They consider the desired behavior rather than the potential tangible or economic benefits of a particular tool. The people in this conversation are dealing with deep philosophical issues around education. Technology needs to be part of the discussion, but it shouldn’t be off in its own category. The other big differentiator is that any number of tools can be used in a plan to answer the questions asked. Each would serve their own unique purpose, and when combined with one another, serve the mission of the organization much more thoroughly and effectively than any instrument alone.

I Need Your Help

I’m not in trouble, though.

I mentioned yesterday that I’m leading a conversation at Saturday’s NovaNOW conference in Grand Rapids. The topic: Flipped Learning pros and cons. I can pull from my experience, but one sample does not a study make (or something like that).

I sent a short survey out on Twitter already, but I’m posting it here in case anyone who subscribes isn’t on Twitter. If you’re a flipped educator, I would really appreciate your contribution. It won’t take long, 5-7 minutes tops. You can do it right here on the blog or visit to bookmark it for later or to share it with your friends.

Sharing is caring, folks. Here’s the link in case you missed it at the top:

Flip Flops and a GIMP Bump Map

I was working on a graphic to use as a promo for my debate this Saturday with Nate Langel at the NovaNOW conference in Grand Rapids. (sidebar – if you’re in the area, it’ll be a great conference. You should come).

Here’s the final image:

It's too cold in Michigan for sandals, put on some shoes

If you’re wondering what the topic of the debate is, well…it’s Flipped Learning. And perhaps debate is the wrong word…we’ll be discussing the pros and cons of flipping from our viewpoints. I’m going to try and make sure the whole thing is recorded so I can post it later.

Anyways, this took me way longer to make than it should have, but through that time, I learned a lot by making a ton of mistakes.

So, first, I needed a background image. I just did a quick Google search for some flip flips and picked an image that was top-down showing both sandals so I could put the text on each foot.

I pulled the JPEG into GIMP and got to work. First, I looked for a summer-ish font and landed on Bauhaus 93 mainly because I think it’s something Old Navy used to use. And they’re always having fun in their jorts and sunglasses.

The text gave me a hard time. GIMP, for whatever reason, gives you three or four interfaces for editing text, but not all of them work. The best way I found to edit the text was to make sure the “Use Editor” option is selected with the text tool.

So, I had some flat text on the flip flops and I knew that there was a way to add some texture in the GIMP menus. Canvas is a great one for old-timey book covers or for faux paintings, but it wouldn’t have worked on this one because the sandals have some larger bumps. After doing some research, I came across the Bump Map. That allows you to take the texture of any layer and apply it to a layer sitting on top, letting it come through.

This is where it got tricky for me. Lesson #1 – make sure the layer you want to texture is the same size as your image. You can do this by right clicking on the layer and selecting “Layer to Image Size.” It makes the mapping much easier.

In the dialog, you have some options. In the dropdown, set the textured layer. In other words, this is the layer you want to use to apply the texture. For me, it was my base flip flop image.

You can see that the text now has the same texture as the flip flop, making it look like it was printed rather than digitally added. It isn’t perfect, but it looks better. I also played with the Azimuth, Elevation, and Depth controls to make it look like it was the same grit as the rest of the shoe. I also filled the text with a 60% opacity to make it look a little faded…it let some of the orange of the sandal bleed through. The last thing I did was take the eraser and select a brush tool to create some fade marks. They’re hard to see, but it gives a little more authenticity to the text.

One thing I need to work on is fading the edges of the text to match the texture a little bit. Right now, they’re too clean, which ruins the effect a little bit. If anyone has tips on how to do that, I’d love to see how in the comments.