The flipped classroom technique has been around for several years now, but how many of us have used it? How many of us are using the technique without even realising it? Do we even understand what it is?
If we look back at the evolution of the flipped classroom technique, we credit much of it to our schools. Traditionally, teachers would spend a lesson teaching their students the theory of a subject. Then homework would be set where the students got to try out the theory they had been working on. However, teachers found that the children struggled with implementing the theory. So, they took a different approach. They set a piece of homework where the students had to read up on a piece of theory; in the classroom the next day they got to put this theory into practice, using it to solve problems with the support of the teacher and their peers. This approach gave the students the chance to assimilate the theory learned by practical trial and error.
All the reference data, journals and publications about the flipped classroom technique shows that it works in a school or further education setting. But can we make it work for us in a corporate setting? As a learning designer, how do we take this flipped classroom technique and put it into practice in our digital learning environment?
- Think about your approach before you design anything
Start small and look at your current training offerings. Is there a course you run in a face-to-face environment that you want to make shorter? Can you take the knowledge share and theory elements of a course and make them digital, so that you just keep the hands-on practical sessions for the face-to-face environment?
- Consider your content
The flipped classroom provides a self-paced, learner centred experience, which enables the learner to be actively in control of their learning experience, completing learning tasks and activities at their own pace when convenient.
Your learning content can be delivered in a range of digital mediums, including videos, online content, reading materials, online reference resources and LMS eLearning provision. The possibilities are endless and constantly evolving as technology advances.
By providing clear content that the learners can review at their own pace, using their preferred methods, you address the range of ways that people like to carry out their independent learning to prepare for what is to follow.
- Come up with a clear plan
Once you have considered the full range of media you can use, come up with a clear plan for your course. Define the program of content, with clear definitions on content to be covered with aims and objectives, and media expectations for each piece of learning.
Your plan should cover both the independent learning, and the face-to-face content, providing you with the opportunity to cross reference your materials to be sure they match up and are giving the same message throughout. This is a great opportunity to make sure your independent learning materials flow through to the face-to-face event, and fully prepare your learners for the whole programme.
- Tracking your learners progress
If you are using a learning management system, be sure to fully track your learners and their completion of the independent learning materials.
With this approach to learning, there is a huge impact for the learner if they have not completed the independent learning, as they will come to a face-to-face event without the same knowledge base that everyone else has. Your face-to-face session timings will not enable you to revisit the content they have missed out on, so they will have an unpleasant face-to-face experience.
So, consider how to deal with non-completion up front, and build this in to your programme.
- The learning experience
Once you have all your independent learning elements planned out and in development, you need to plan your learner experience.
This is everything from enrolment on your programme, through to them completing the face-to-face event. Consider how you promote your programme and each step of the learner journey for all digital materials (you can learn more about this in my recent blog).
- Anticipate and facilitate
The lack of the “sage on the stage” may impede the learning process for some learners. You need to take the place of the absent facilitator. To do that, build facilitation into the course; anticipate the typical questions the student may have and include these in your learning materials.
You could even consider having an online forum element to your programme, some LMS’s provide this functionality (such as Docebo), or your company intranet could potentially provide this. This style of chat group can provide great engagement and enables your learners to feel supported and part of a group. Plus, it helps build rapport ahead of the face-to-face event.
- Pilot and analyse
For this type of learning programme, it is always wise to pilot to a small select group of learners who do not know the course content. This gives you the chance to fully analyse the learning experience at all stages and identify any issues or pitfalls, fixing as you go before you roll out the programme to your entire organisation.
You may already use a flipped classroom in your organisation. But if you haven’t tried it yet, take a look at the classroom courses you offer - you may spot a perfect candidate to try this out on.