27 November 2017

Top 10 Things Training Professionals Need to Know About Flipped Learning

  • Digital Immersion
  • Flipped Classroom
Author: Bindi Clements

If you’re involved in training and development, you’ll have heard a lot about flipped learning. Quite simply, flipped classroom involves taking learning content that would traditionally be imparted to your learners by a trainer, reformatting it in some way, and giving this material to your learners to study outside of the training room.

This approach frees up contact time so learners and trainers can dive more deeply into key issues, practice skills, and share knowledge and expertise. It also allows for a more personalized approach to learning, with your employees being able to have more control over what, when and how they learn. This means their learning can be tailored to just what they need to work on, saving your company hundreds of hours of wasted training time.

Sound good? It is! But as with any learning trend, you’ll find a lot of training providers jumping on the bandwagon of flipped learning without grasping what it’s really about. In order to help you understand how it works and be able to judge good flipped learning from bad, we’ve put together the top 10 things we think every training professional needs to know. Read on to bust some myths about flipped learning and to find out how to make it work for you.

 1.    Flipped Learning Is Not Self-Directed Online Learning

Flipped learning isn’t about moving all your learning content into online courses, and expecting learners to complete these courses on their own, online. Fundamental to the flipped learning approach is contact time with a trainer so that learners can explore the material they studied before they came to class.

Well-designed flipped courses will also utilize online contact between the learners in some way out of training room time (e.g., using online forums, collaborative projects, etc.).

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 2.    Flipped Learning is Not About Replacing a Trainer with Videos

One of the most common myths about flipped learning is that you’ll mostly be replacing live training sessions with videos. Yes, some of the material you give to learners before class may be video based (more on this below).

But the videos are not the main focus of flipped learning. The trainer still has a crucial role to play. Instead of mainly delivering content as with a traditional training model, the trainer’s role is now to facilitate the training sessions and help the learners to practice and develop their skills. You’ll still need skilled trainers to manage your flipped classrooms; you just probably need less trainer time than with traditional models.

The trainer still has a crucial role to play. Instead of mainly delivering content as with a traditional training model, the trainer’s role is now to facilitate the training sessions and help the learners to practice and develop their skills.

 3.    Flipped Learning is more than Blended Learning

Blended learning is about mixing different digital learning with more traditional methods of classroom learning. Flipped learning often does just that, by combining online courses with live trainer session time.

But flipped learning is more than simply blended learning – it’s an approach to training that emphasizes active learning. In flipped learning the emphasis is on applying and what you learned in the classroom, and learners and trainers are therefore encouraged to go more deeply into the material in class time. This means that flipped learning can focus on practicing the kind of skills your employees need.

4.    You’ll Need Well-designed Pre-class Training Materials

How are your learners going to be motivated to engage with the content outside the training room? If learners don’t complete the pre-class tasks, then the flipped approach collapses, as the trainer will need to spend precious learner contact time getting everyone who hasn’t complete their tasks up to speed.

But don’t think it’s all about creating flashy, expensive videos, whatever technology companies are providing state of the art content creating products will have you believe. Yes, videos are a very effective element of the flipped classroom approach and have been shown to improve learning. But learners need a variety of approaches to learning that will get them engaged with the material – not only watching videos. And the good news? Once this training material has been created, it’s scalable, and can be accessed by large numbers of employees.

5.    You’ll Need to Throw Away Your PowerPoint Presentations

Yes, we know that someone somewhere has put a lot of time, effort and resources into preparing existing training material. And the content will undoubtedly be a good place to start when designing your flipped course.

But at the least, it will need some repackaging before you present it to your learners. Simply taking a lengthy PowerPoint presentation, recording a voiceover, and expecting your learners to be engaged and enthused with the long videos that result is unlikely to be a winning recipe.

 6.    Mobile-friendly, Bite-sized Learning is Key

So, what are some ways you can make sure your learners engage outside of the training room? It’s now a given that training material should be accessible on a mobile device. It’s also helpful to break it into small bite-sized chunks (one very good reason why lengthy powerpoint presentations with a voiceover are usually a no-no).

Chunking up your material helps learners have time to complete the activities anytime, anyplace, and helps the learner retain the material.

Chunking up your material helps learners have time to complete the activities anytime, anyplace, and helps the learner retain the material.

 7.    Flipped Learning Is About Increased Interaction Between Learners and Trainers

Important: we’re NOT talking here about increasing the amount of paid trainer-learner time; in fact, flipped learning often requires less paid trainer time than traditional training.

The focus on flipped learning is on how that trainer-learner time is spent, i.e. interacting, rather than the trainer delivering training material to a passive group of learners. This means that all that costly training time (costly in terms of paying an expert trainer, and in lost working hours while your employees attend the training sessions) is used to the max, with learners taking part in activities that help them to apply what their learning to their own context.

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8.    Flipped Learning will Empower Your Employees

Flipped learning empowers your employees by giving them the opportunity to choose what they need to focus on. This is not only more cost and time effective (as employees can focus on what is most relevant and necessary for them to learn) but also means that learning can happen at a pace that suits everyone. It gives them the flexibility to choose when and where to do a lot of the studying –  a significant change from most traditional training.

9.    You Will Need to Prepare Your Employees

The flipped classroom approach relies on learner motivation to complete the tasks out of class time, and to fully engage in the session. Learning at your own pace, when you have time, is a great idea, but if your employees aren’t motivated, their pace of learning could be slower than in conventional training.

However, if your organization provides an environment which encourages and rewards learning, you can ensure that your learners are motivated to complete their training.

10.  Flipped learning is Effective and Accelerates Learning

Flipped learning works. It empowers your learners and gets them engaged on a much deeper level than with traditional training, and focuses on building skills, rather than just imparting information. By involving your employees more fully in their learning journeys, they will be motivated to take their learning to another level.

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