Flipping classrooms and learning outcomes

Picture of school desk with apple on it

Photo credit – JJ Thompson via unsplash.com

A concept that is upturning approaches to learning is called flipped classrooms. These happen when you “flip” the learning so the instructional content is delivered online, outside the classroom and the classroom time is dedicated to activities and exercises that were thought of more traditionally as “homework”. Be they classrooms, or corporate training rooms, the approach is centred on collaboration and engagement of educator and student. 

Photo credit - Radek Grzybowski via unsplash.com

Photo credit – Radek Grzybowski via unsplash.com

It’s a kind of blended learning
A flipped classroom is really a version of blended learning – or one that combines digital learning with traditional methods.  It requires students to put in the time to watch a presentation or complete some online learning module that delivers instructional content.

Participants then come to the classroom/training room to engage in activities that reinforce that learning. As a result, the role of the educator/trainer is different. Rather than taking the role of an expert disseminating knowledge, they facilitate and mentor the participants. The emphasis is more on questions and questioning, discussion, collaboration and mentoring.

I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.
~ Socrates

Is this new, if Socrates had the concept all those years ago? Probably not in many instances. What is newer about it now is the technology. It presupposes that the participants have access to technology to engage in the “homework”. It also suggests that they will do that willingly. If the pre-work (pre-reading, pre-viewing) is not complete, those participants will be less able to contribute and potentially less able to benefit from the classroom activities.

Pros and cons
There are many benefits of this approach. These include:

  • participants are able to review the online material, replay it or skip sections according to their need
  • more classroom time is dedicated to application of learning
  • in-built quizzes provide immediate feedback on learning mastery
  • convenience of access via mobile devices

Downsides exist too. These include:

  • the cost of producing online material in terms of materials, time and effort
  • the emphasis on careful integration of activities
  • dependence on participant:
    • access to technology
    • willingness to engage

A place for flipped classrooms in corporate training?

Photo credit - Helloquence vis unsplash.com

Photo credit – Helloquence via unsplash.com

Is there scope for corporates to engage in the flipped classroom approach for their training? That will depend on the flexibility of organisations to produce or access the content that will meet the needs of their stakeholders. Video and online learning production can be expensive or not – depending on the technology that can be accessed and the in-house expertise. 

Furthermore, the skill of educators in this approach, is more focused on facilitating discussions and learning outcomes. It is more of a coaching/mentoring approach taken to stimulate the thinking, meaning making and ultimately, solution generating interactions of the participants.

What this means then, is a change in the requirements of the training team. Video production/online learning production skills will be required as well as facilitation and mentoring skills.

Enriched learning
Learning that has more focus on application provides more grounding for the learner. The learning from such approaches is enriched by the interactions, discussions and collaborations with others. This “social” approach to learning adds value to the learning gained through the diversity of views explored. With such an approach there is more democracy of view points which presents another challenge to manage!

If you are a trainer/coach/mentor – what are your views on this?


7 Things you should know about flipped classrooms

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