The concept of “flipping” the classroom has been around for a number of years but it hasn’t been widely adopted as a professional development strategy. Why is this the case? In a traditional face-to-face course, students are required to attend classes at a certain time in a specific classroom so their schedules are predictable. Professional development workshops for faculty are typically not as predictable. Scheduling workshops for teachers can be a difficult task because of after school activities, department meetings, office hours and a host of other obstacles.
VoiceThread can help trainers at all levels overcome these obstacles. Over the last few years, we have worked with a number of Instructional Designers and Learning Support staff to create and deliver flipped workshops. In the past, trainers may have been able to cobble together tutorials and documents to share with teachers, but VoiceThread makes organizing materials and follow-up discussions easier. Instead of compiling half a dozen links to YouTube videos, webpages and in-house materials, you can upload all of your content to one place. You can narrate over slides, share screencast videos and have an open Q&A all on a single VoiceThread.
Because VoiceThread is asynchronous and web-based, there is no need to schedule, reserve meeting space and deal with all of the logistics that go along with professional development. Many teachers want professional development, but those obstacles can get in the way. A teacher may have time to learn at 10pm on a Thursday, or early in the morning on the weekends, and VoiceThread allows these teachers to enjoy the benefits of PD without having to upend their schedules.
As teachers work through the material, they can easily record their questions at any time of day. The facilitator of the VoiceThread workshop can then review the questions on their time and respond. If the answers are complex, the facilitator can upload a new slide explaining the answer in greater visual detail to that same VoiceThread. You can eliminate the back and forth of text-based emails and maintain a record of the questions where everyone can hear them.
There will always be a time and place for meeting with someone face-to-face to work through issues, but VoiceThread gives you the freedom to decide when that is necessary and when it’s not.