Working in the fish tank, back in the late '80s, was a life-changing experience, it turned my life upside down, it got flipped, for the better though! Quiksilver was at the time, one of the surfwear industry leaders in the world. The fish tank was the name given to our glass-walled office in our headquarters in Huntington Beach, California. There, along with a small team of friends and co-workers, we used to operate with what was at the time "state of the art technology", the "Micro Dynamics System" for pattern making, grading, and marker making for the apparel industry. That 's how, Laurel Murphy, my boss at the time, described the software to Australian actor Mel Gibson, while he kept looking at my screen over my shoulder. It was, really incredible. The things we were able to do with it would have probably taken us several days to complete manually, the way we used to it before. We were then able to digitize our work and send it across the world, via modem, to our production plants in Asia, to be printed and used to produce the thousands of garments that would eventually arrive at our warehouses a few months later. It was the kind of thing I used to watch in movies and read in books and magazines as a kid growing up. It was a dream come true. Ever since, learning how to work with new technologies, sharing, and learning with others has been a fundamental part of my life.
A decade later, having changed career paths, I found myself working for the local government at a Colombian public educational project. It was a rather difficult task at the time. I struggled to convince others that English and educational technologies were essential for our future and that we needed to change our mindset required to do that. Thankfully, the world was changing rapidly and Colombia was not the exception, just like now. A new generation was getting ready to help us get where we are now. PC's, laptops, and internet access were finally part of our everyday lives, and language learning computer labs started to be used widely. With the countless possible learning scenarios when using multimedia content in our classrooms, the era of eLearning had officially arrived. Soon after that, we were all talking about Web 2.0, exploring, learning, and collaborating with others to design and use educational websites and apps. Once Android and iOS smartphones fell into our hands, yet again, life was never the same. In the years after that, HTML5, Shareable Content Object Reference Model - SCORM standards and specifications, project Tin Can, and other major developments in technology augmented the possibilities of learning and teaching in virtual and blended environments.
Now that we find ourselves amidst an eLearning, or distance education revolution due to the coronavirus (COVID19) pandemic crisis, It's imperative that educators and professionals of all sorts are able to shift their efforts and take advantage of working with others, to share and learn essential eLearning practices. It may not be easy if you try to do it alone or with others who lack the experience and knowledge to actually help you in a proper manner. A well-organized initiative with a community of master practitioners around the world providing resources, support, training, and certification, is the Flipped Learning Network. Carolina R Buitrago, one of its leaders and promoters in Colombia, recently accompanied us for a lengthy and pleasant conversation about Flipped Learning and their Global Initiative, how to get started in it, her recommended list of books, experts to follow, and detailed advice on how to use one her favorite strategies, Hyperdocs.
You can follow Carolina R Buitrago on Twitter @crbuitrago.