This morning, I was reading Times Ten's newest book, Hacking Flex Teaching, and I couldn’t help but smile as author Hollie Woodard describes her initial struggle, even rejection, of educational technology. She explains the root of that struggle – which most of us can relate to – fear.
Fear of being replaced, irrelevant, and losing connection – all the stuff of anxiety.
Her vulnerable and insightful words about her evolution in thinking, along with her humor and fun examples, make this an excellent book for any of us who still look at the impending digital future and correlated demand for flexible models of teaching (flex teaching) with a bit of a side-eye, distrustful look.
Hollie talks about the fight-or-flight response many folks have in response to not just technology, but change. Comparing the protagonists’ choices in the Terminator and The Matrix, Hollie writes:
I could choose to be the protagonist in Terminator, John Connor, who pushes back against the all-consuming power with the ultimate goal of destroying it before it destroys us. Or, I could choose to be the red-pill-enlightened Neo, played by Keanu Reeves, in The Matrix. He uses his efforts not to fight for the extinction of technology but to stay in Wonderland and learn as much about it as possible to control it. I’ll take the red pill, please.
If you also choose the red pill, Hollie’s book helps you embrace and excel in a world where flex teaching is no longer an option but an imperative to provide equitable access and inclusivity of all students.
What is flex teaching? It is a teaching model and mindset rooted in adaptability and equity that has been readily embraced by many innovative universities, even pre-pandemic, like The University of Kansas and Duke University.
In Hollie’s words, “Flex teaching is the understanding that education is now fluid, and the educational models created to meet the needs of pandemic teaching and learning are here to stay. Flex teaching is also the understanding that your professional growth, adoption of technology, and twenty-first-century best practices are essential to education’s survival.”
But before you let our old friend fear cause you to reach for your comfort blanket, know that flex teaching does not require a complete set of new skills or a ton of additional professional development.
Hollie’s book helps you understand that it’s simply good teaching through the thoughtful lens of how we can use technology to support engagement, the gradual release of responsibility, students with special needs, and more. All things you already do.
So along with picking up a copy of Hacking Flex Teaching, I encourage you to take the red pill, look at your fear and anxiety, and repeat the immortal words from the Terminator – “Hasta la vista, baby” -- as you embrace flex teaching.