Should You Flip Your Training?
I once was a trainee at a course given by a famous trainer. The course was pretty expensive and I was excited by the subject matter, so I took their suggestion of reading a whole book before going to the training seriously. By the time I entered the training location, I was enthusiastic, ready to learn more and eager to interact with others that had come to the training. Only later did I realize that this was a simple, yet powerful (low-tec) example of flipping the classroom or, as we might call it, flipping the training.
Flipping the classroom is a concept that has a growing following in education. It refers to moving the consumption of more or less passive instructional content such as listening to lectures out of the classroom. The teacher stops lecturing and starts providing videos and other material for at home and uses the time in the classroom for more interactive work.
The term flipping the classroom was coined or at least made famous by science teachers Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams. I once enjoyed this video by Aaron Sams, explaining what it meant. Bergman and Sams have gone on to become flipped classroom evangelists and the founders of The Flipped Learning Network. Last year they published an official definition that stresses the fact that simply letting you read a book or watch a video at home, might be flipping a classroom but isn’t enough for their notion of Flipped Learning.
“Flipped Learning is a pedagogical approach in which direct instruction moves from the group learning space to the individual learning space, and the resulting group space is transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment where the educator guides students as they apply concepts and engage creatively in the subject matter.”
And why? First of all: flipping the classroom saves expensive group time. Any trainers client will love the notion that time and money is saved. For professional trainers, it’s all not only about flipping the training location ( the classroom) but actually about flipping the whole training, i.e reorganizing the individual learning and group learning processes so that it’s all done at the right time for lowest cost and highest gain.
It all comes down to only doing things in a group space, which cannot be done more effectively in the individual space. Having said that, it’s important to realize that there is really no point in recording a long presentation and forcing trainees to watch it a home. You might be flipping something, but you’ll be wasting more time than ever, as your learners will find it hard to keep motivated. It’s a well-known fact that Moocs (massive online open courses) have massive amounts of drop outs– and I suspect that the main reason is that it’s tedious to watch lectures on your own.
So when you’re designing a blended training course you need to carefully consider each learning element. Online or Offline? Individual or Group activity? Can I use the group space for “applying learned concepts and engaging creatively with the subject matter?” Do I move direct instruction out of the physical group space or does the group need to be motivated by basking in the light of the famous trainer or motivational speaker? To flip or not to flip.... it’s not a single decision but a series of detailed decisions that will profoundly affect your training product. Good luck.