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Filtering by Tag: memes

The Curious Case of the Flipped-Bloom's Meme

(This is the sequel to 'Anatomy of a (Flipped) Meme')

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Last post I dug up the history of the Flipped Classroom idea. In this thrilling conclusion I look a variant: the "Flipped Bloom's Taxonomy" meme, which isn't even a meme yet, although in the last three weeks it has looked to get enough traction via one very influential blog post.

Do a google image search for Bloom's and see what shapes you get:

The very first image has been FLIPPED upside down! This image has been around for years, but it's only the last few days that Twitter has lit up with the NEW Flipped-Bloom's MEME!!


Never Meant to Be One Way


Of course, Bloom's taxonomy was never meant to be linear or sequential.  

The version I always knew was a pyramid:

But as with the general flipped learning meme, if you look you can find plenty of examples dating back years.

This looks like a flipped pyramid right here, dating from 2001:

And the taxonomy was revised in 2000 by Loren Anderson, who also appears to have turned it upside down, although I can't get a really good reference for this. This is the upside down graphic that comes up first when I run a google images search for Bloom's: 

Much criticism has been levelled at Bloom's, but although "a more radical approach would be to have no taxonomy at all" (2003), human beings LOVE a taxonomy, especially one with a one-syllable name and a nice stable pyramid under it!

Don't get rid of Bloom's, just swivel it 180 degrees! 


May 5 - A Conversation with Aaron Sams


Aaron Sams mentioned the Flipped Bloom's idea to us when we met him a few weeks ago: "The other thing is just trying to find different models in the way this whole flipped approach works because it’s not just one way to put them."

"So, the idea is how do you approach Bloom’s?  Do you go from the bottom up, or do you approach Bloom from the top-down?  If we can minimize the remembering and understanding stuff, you start with the project, so project-based learning starts top and they tap down as needed versus starting at the bottom with content and climbing your way to the top and, hopefully, you get to a culminating it in to your project."


May 15 - Enter Shelley Wright


So, dear reader, imagine my surprise shortly after returning from my pilgrimage to my leafy Australian home, to come across this post: http://plpnetwork.com/2012/05/15/flipping-blooms-taxonomy/


Except that, I didn’t read it there, I read it on the Mindshift blog where it was republished: http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2012/05/flip-this-blooms-taxonomy-should-start-with-creating/ 

Her original post was on May 15, and the Mindshift clone was May 17. 

Which of the two sites has a larger readership, I do not know, but the little bunny-meme went virile. An excerpt search shows the blog being linked to in 454 other sites as of today, May 26.


This is a fractal jump in scale, but it doesn’t count as full-blown viral, yet. It could be a flash in the pan, a blip on the radar.

I've been counting the tweets mentioning 'Flipping Bloom's' each day since then:

16 May - 10

17 May - 2

18 May - 80 (Mindshift blog is a super-node?)

19 May - 70 (Mindshift blog is a super-node?)

20 May - 30

21 May - 30

22 May - 22

23 May - 21

24 May - 29

25 May - 6

26 May - 19

You can just feel this new virus striving for life, pushing, pushing to jump up another order of magnitude or two into fractal viability.


So had Shelley Wright Spoken to Aaron Sams?


I logically concluded Shelley Wright must have heard the idea from Aaron Sams. So I asked Shelley, but she's never heard of Aaron! 

Detective hat on, I bounced back to Aaron and asked where he heard the idea from. He couldn't recall hearing "Flipped Bloom's" from anyone else, but said he'd been using it for about 6 months in his presentations.

He did, however, point me to Lorin Anderson's "inverted pyramid" which I've mentioned above.

Further searching by yielded another interesting find: 

Back in 2009, we have "Inverting Bloom's Taxonomy".

"INVERTING!?" PEOPLE! How many times must I tell you! Don't say 'invert', say 'flip'! The punters want 'flip', they don't want 'inverting'. 

This 2009 version got little traction.

Let this be a lesson to everyone: if you turn something upside down, and want people to pass around the idea, choose your keyword carefully. 


Inevitable Ideas


"There is nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come."

Victor Hugo


It's all context.

Bloom's taxonomy pyramids floating everywhere, sunny-side up.

Then an inverted graphic from 2001.

"Inverting Bloom's" in 2009.

Still all quiet on the western front. 

Then the "FLIP" engine, lurking in wings, catches the wind in 2010. 

How long could it be until someone connected the FLIP-engine to Bloom's pyramid? How long until someone thought "that ain't just inverted, that's flipped!" 

Was this inevitable? Aaron Sams and Shelley Wright seem to have been saying it concurrently, unaware of each other.  

And will Shelley Wright's post with its beautiful graphic be enough to tip the equation up to the next level?

I really hope so. I like Bloom's the other way around.


Project-Based Learning in a Soothing Package 


Flipped Bloom's is remarkably close to Project-Based Learning. But you try saying "Project-Based Learning" or even "PBL" a few times! Sounds a leetle beet hard! A leetle beet threatening!

It tells me I've been basing my learning model on the wrong thing. "Try project-based learning" implies "You have been basing your understanding of learning on the WRONG FOUNDATION." Aggressive!

Not a bad meme, PBL, for the revolutionaries. We might need to repackage the idea for the punters.

"Flipping Bloom's" is more diplomatic, and seductive.

"Don't worry, we're just taking something you aleady know and love, and we're putting a fresh angle on it!"

"Hey, anyone can turn something upside down! Just turn it upside down!" 

I hope that the Flipped Bloom's meme travels up the fractal scale dimension. I hope it continues to get traction.


Variant Graphics


Some crazy radicals, even since Shelley Wright's post, have been doing OTHER things to Bloom's that cannot be summed up in one cute syllable.

I give you Kathy Schrock's interlocking cognitive processes. She uses cogs:


And Edna Sackson dares suggest learning is not linear, and uses steps and ladders, and little people who appear to be dressed in Bloom's triangles (coincidence I think)!

(Edna has said since that this dates from 2010 - http://whatedsaid.wordpress.com/2010/05/18/constructing-meaning/. In that post she quotes Jay McTighe as advocating 'turning Bloom's taxonony on its head'. HA HA!! SO CLOSE TO 'FLIP'!! Imagine that: "so, Jay, you're saying we should... so to speak... 'flip' the taxonomy?" But in 2010 Pink and Khan had not pushed the term to its current giddy heights.)

But can anything compete with the flipped romance? As Edna Sackson says, 'Flipping is the new black.'

A Flipped Romance


'Flip' is  like the puppy dog version of 'change'.

Change growls, flip purrs.

Change threatens, flip seduces.

Flip implies something can be freshened, not made reduntant. It can be redeemed, invigorated, reborn, without a change in substance or identity. When you flip something, you don't rip out its heart, you look at it from a reverse angle.

'Flip' comes without a surgeon's knife. It knocks at the door like a showman, and offers to teach you a magic trick. Just put this here and that there, and tadaaaa!

No damage done.

So all the debating, blogging, playing with the language, is really giving people a paradigm that sits between death by stagnation and death by assault. From experience, stuck between that rock and that hard place is actually where I normally do grow, but if 'flip' can get in there first and tempt me out with some bread crumbs and the promise of a better world, I shan't complain. 

Australian readers may recognise the advertising equivalent, 'Don't stop it, just swap it', and recognise the limits of this method!



If Flipping Meets Occupy 


I predict this won't be the last thing we see flipped. 

In one conceivable future, the occupy meme will meet the flipped meme. If that happens, all bets are off! 


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Anatomy of a (Flipped) Meme

(See also, part 2: The Curious Case of Flipped-Bloom's)


You know the 'Flipped Learning' meme? 


Flip it?

The Flip?

The Flipped Classroom? 

Okay then, smartie, have you noticed its new iteration, 'Flipped Bloom's'? It sprung like a bolt out of the blue not 3 weeks ago.

Out of nowhere? And why now? Why traction, now?

Curiouser and curiouser. Flipped Bloom's next post, first a prequel:


The Prequel: 'Flipped Learning'


Earlier this month I had the pleasure of meeting Aaron Sams in Denver, and picked his brains over the history of the "Flipped Learning" meme. 

Sams told me, "Dan Pink ran an article in 2010, November, and he called this whole shifting direct instruction out of the class on video the 'Fisch Flip' referencing Karl Fisch.

"Karl said, 'Hey! You got to talk to these guys down in Woodland Park because that’s who we talked to.'  So we immediately got stuck to the term."

Sams and his friend Bergmann were about to publish a book on podcasting, vodcasting etc, but with Pink using the term 'Flip' they reworked the keywords in their book and called it 'Flip-Mastery'.

They put in their book for publishing in February, 2011. As it happened, not two weeks later the illustrious Sal Khan gave his Khan Academy TED talk. In the talk he says "And the teachers would write, saying, 'We've used your videos to flip the classroom.'" He uses the phrase 'flip' like it was already old news. 

So Salman Khan heard teachers using the word 'Flip' before 2011. Maybe they'd read Dan Pink's article from the UK newspaper, the Telegraph? (Or a much earlier article - see below)

Pink + Khan seems to have made the idea go high-level viral. Khan in particular acted as a 'super-node' in the network, and ideas can jump fractal scale dimensions when championed in a space that has everyone's attention.


What's in a Meme?


That which we call a rose...

A meme is an idea on wheels. It has its driver's license and its off around the world, thanks!

It can only drive Class A vehicles, and they don't take many passengers. If it's going to go viral, it can't carry much with it.

This is both the strength and weakness of the 'Flipped Learning' meme.

To my mind, mainly strength.

The literal meaning 'Swap the activities of school and home', is in itself a delightfully, scrumptiously, subversive, disruptive message; just the thing to sweep out cobwebs, challenge some thinking just where it needs challenging, because for the love of all things kind and sweet we do not need any more teacher talk, thanks universe. Swap the stuff OUTSIDE this rattling cage for what's IN IT. Amen, brother. 

THAT meaning is, of course, a parody of the term anyway, but parody is where the magic begins. 

I don't know any teacher who has so crude a view of learning that they hear 'Flipped Learning' and immediately think to literally flip class activity and home activity, lecture and application, end of story, and slap their hands together and say 'mah werk heah eez dun!' 

Rather, what happens, and I think this goes to the way the meme works, is when you first hear it and understand the literal implication, you envisage the caricature, but then, and this is magical, you bounce of the caricature into something more nuanced.

So, in a funny way, the meme works really nicely.

Step #1 Teacher hears the meme.

Step #2 They react against it as a caricature and formulate their own more balanced model.

Step #3 They pass on the meme, often in the form of criticism of it. 

('Can't talk honey, I must blog, someone on the internet is wrong!') 

Just go to google blog search and search for Flipped Learning to see this effect. 100s of blogs trying to correct the straw-man notion!

Aaron Sams told me, "I mean, I’ve been playing defense on the internet primarily because of misconceptions of people trying to pitch in whole lots, [saying] 'is it just this?'". 

"It’s 'Think about what the best use your time with your students face to face is and if you can shift something out of that time so they can access it asynchronously.'"

The meme begs this question, and it's a question it doesn't hurt to ask. 

Sams isn't locking into any model! Nor are his students or their friendly robot. 

Like every buzz-word, to travel it has to be hopelessly simplified.

The phrase, "Think about what the best use of your time with your students face to face is and if you can shift something out of that time so they can access it asynchronously"-classroom doesn't roll of the tongue.

Miraculously, the simpler phrase "Flip" unpacks itself in each brain it encounters, through an automatic unfolding mechanism called 'critique'. This story is archetypical.

In computing terms, the 'flip' virus invokes our reliable critiquing apparatus, allowing it to travel light, and poses as straw-man to intensify traction. Watch the edubloggers all take to Wordpress, one giant army, to correct the misconception! Clever meme!

It knows! 

It smiles to itself. It beckons: "unpack me, then copy me and pass me on!"


An Idea Whose Time Has Come


So Dan Pink writes about the 'Fisch Flip', Sams and Bergmann write a book, and Khan gives a TED talk, and KABOOM! The idea explodes, and the rest is history.

I hear you say, "Steve, flipped learning goes way, way back before 2011."

...and was being applied instinctively and intuitively all over the place. I was applying related concepts in 2002 via a website called 'Nicenet.org' and when Moodle arrived in 2005, I went ballistic. I dare say you did too.


Prehistory of a Meme


If you had your ear to the ground you'd know the poorer, clumsier, older brother meme, the veritable proto-meme, the (Baker's Saturn to Khan's Zeus):

"Be the guide on the side, not the sage on the stage."

Too many syllables for the proletariat, but the phrase gathered traction, and when I heard it from MrsAngell a few years ago it stuck with me.  Wikipedia tells me the proto-meme came from a conference paper in 2000 "The classroom flip: using web course management tools to become the guide by the side" by J. Wesley Baker. This is pre-Web 2.0.

He even uses the word 'flip' in the title, but that didn't seem to travel at the time. 

Our attention spans were longer before Twitter came along. The brevity of 'Flip'; the sheer economy of character spaces, was not a crucial advantage. A cost of 4 units, versus the 47 of 'Guide by the side instead of sage on the stage' now makes all the difference. It's all pure-poetry now, and nimble memes exploit efficiency to dominate. 

Ha ha! 

Other authors in 2000 were referring to 'Inverting' the classroom. Yah, not so catchy. Try saying 'invert' out loud a few times, then say 'flip'. Now, which one gets a girlfriend?

The Wikipedia article pushes further back into the 1990s and Eric Mazur. Would the idea have ever bunny hopped up the fractal scale dimension without that long beginning?

Why pause the time machine there? Why stop with the internet? 

The difference between an interactive video and a textbook is only a matter of degrees.

If a 1960s teacher said 'read about calculus tonight in your book and tomorrow we'll use it to do something crazy', how is that not Flipped-Learning?

The internet just a really big book, on a continuum since some Sumerians got sick of counting sheep, grabbed a chisel and a rock, and composed one of the world's earliest web-pages.


Collective Brainwaves


So it's not that the idea is new, ain't nothing new, it's all just short shorts.

I'm just fascinated at the turn of events that lead to its fractal-jump in late 2010, from rumbling in the background to a edtech popculture icon.

You can have a great idea, but you can't force traction.


It's Fractal


When I say it's fractal I mean the meme jumped a level of magnitude in late 2010, early 2011. A google trends analysis on searches for the phrase 'flipped' seems to support this:


A Joke

Have you heard the joke:

Q: What's the difference between teacher-talk and a video?

A: At least you can turn a video off.

For this much we are grateful.

...to be continued. In Part 2, the meme spawns a child: "Flipped Bloom's"