Flip the learning

I lived in an age where information and knowledge was a commodity. Certain people owned it, and if I wanted their knowledge, I needed to spend time with them.

That’s not how it works for my children. Knowledge is far from a commodity; it is everywhere and easily accessible through technology that wasn’t available 25 years ago. In many ways, this has been the driving force of a different instructional methodology described as “Flipped” learning. Flipped learning places the ownership of learning with the student, and tasks the teacher with helping students apply that knowledge.


When I think about it, the same type of learning applies to me as an adult. When I needed to do electrical work recently in my home, I looked online, watched a few videos and had to call my dad only once during the whole project. I was pretty excited because I had not only completed the project but had figured it out almost entirely on my own.

Such learning is happening here in the Rockford Public Schools. Hrisi Perri and Zach Frazer are history teachers at Auburn High School who believe our students need to be taught digital skills to excel. They help students learn how to think critically about sources through online tools such as Prezi and Edmodo. Sites like Ted-Ed allow a student to learn the difference between the Antarctic and the Arctic. At KhanAcademy, students can learn complex statistical methods. TedX lets them listen to a lecture by one of my favorite authors, and Udacity lets anyone learn to program a car to drive by itself.

While some people may argue this diminishes the need for teachers, I believe it increases the need. It allows communities to take advantage of the full value teachers bring to their children. This value is no longer disseminating information, but rather helping children learn through coaching, individual attention, and pushing students to higher levels of thinking, problem solving, and creativity.

In this way, teachers aren’t just walking encyclopedias — they can be used to inspire students in transformative ways.

Dan Woestman is an Assistant Superintendent for Rockford Public Schools and oversees technology in the district. He and his wife, Sarah, have lived in the school district for seven years and have three children: Jackson, Parker, and Elly.




  1. Kris Kovari

    awesome! Glad to see that they are using flipped instruction. I agree we need more teachers like Hrisi and Zach.

  2. Jay Larson

    They are two amazing Auburn teachers!

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