“Flip thinking”: Turning business and education models upside-down

In an Telegraph article from 12 September titled Think Tank: Flip-thinking – the new buzz word sweeping the US, Dan Pink tells the story of Karl Fisch, a math teacher-turned school district technologist-turned math teacher again (due to budget cuts). In the article, Pink tells the story of how Fisch is taking a novel approach to teaching in his public school classroom. Pink certainly wastes no words in this article, packing it full of ideas for a wide range of industries.

I have been consistently inspired by Pink’s thought-challenging and easy-to-read writings in A Whole New Mind, Switch, Drive, and Johnny Bunko. And I’ve watched Fisch’s famous viral video Did You Know? (updated version here) – which outlines key cultural changes ushered in by the social web – dozens, perhaps hundreds of times over the past three years. I’ve showed it to nearly every social media class I’ve taught because it so nicely illustrates many of the contemporary web technologies that are shaping the way we connect, work, and play.

What most caught my attention in this article was the introductory story of Fisch and how he is “flipping” the traditional educational model that needlessly wastes precious face-to-face time between students and educators by forcing them to silently listen to lectures. Instead, Fisch sends his kids home to listen to his recorded lectures posted to YouTube. He then uses class time to walk his students through guided activities.

This approach has many natural (and obvious) benefits. Fisch doesn’t have to give the same presentation over and over since it’s recorded. His students can pause and rewind the lectures they watch at night. And the exercises that most teachers would assign as homework? Instead of struggling through them, possibly reinforce wrong ideas, and have to wait to find out where they went wrong, Fisch is able to identify issues as they unfold and correct them in real time.

But Pink doesn’t stop there. He provides suggestions for various other industries, including movies and publishing, that could revolutionize both. He then challenges the reader to examine what processes could be flipped. Read the whole article and then leave a comment if you think of something you can “flip.”


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  2. Raymundo Milner · November 6, 2010

    Outstanding post! Awesome information on the subject. Definitely a fresh bookmark.


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