Revisiting the Flipped Classroom

Let’s have a refresher and briefly go over what exactly “Flipped Classroom” is.

It is an instructional theory that essentially “flips” traditional training methods. In traditional instructor led training, a user is introduced to new concepts in the classroom. Afterwards, this content is then reinforced through what we call: homework. In a Flipped Classroom, users are introduced to new concepts prior to entering the classroom, most commonly via eLearning or video and as a result will come to class possessing a fundamental understanding of core concepts. Then when they enter the classroom environment these concepts are reinforced through instructor led activities.

*An article from Vanderbilt University explains, “In essence, “flipping the classroom” means that students gain first exposure to new material outside of class, usually via reading or lecture videos, and then use class time to do the harder work of assimilating that knowledge, perhaps through problem-solving, discussion, or debates.”

Here at iLX, we are always interested in “training for tomorrow”. Since we are now seeing actual application with this theory, let’s discuss what has been observed through this period of “trial and error”….


The Biggest Barriers 

There is, of course, criticism of this theory and we are going to discuss two in particular.


Number One: Homework

The Flipped Classroom is the type of blending learning that requires the user to have a grasp of key concepts and processes before even entering the “classroom”.The downside to this is that it requires participants to set aside some personal time to complete the required tasks. In addition to committing to the face-to-face component of the course, the user has to bring extra work… to home. Many participants view it as unfair to have additional work outside of the workplace or the classroom. So how can this be resolved in an organizational setting? By giving incentive.

Several companies who utilized the FC find it beneficial to pay trainees for their time upon completion of their coursework. This not only gives incentive to complete the programs, but it also provides proper reward for completing extra work. .


Number Two: Resources

If the user undergoes training using the FC method, that means that he/she needs access to a computer, tablet or smartphone. Some critics have argued that this can alienate users who come from a lower socio-economic background. Others argue that even if a user has their own computer, they would not want to be burdened with costs such as: electricity and data.  

The solution: many companies have their trainees come in during the workday and provide computers on which the courseware can be completed. This both provides the resources needed as well as eliminates having to complete work outside of the workplace.


The Biggest Advantages

As with most theories, the Flipped Classroom  is not applicable in all contexts. Where it can be really effective in some contexts, it can fail to meet expectations in others. What has been discovered is that it is really effective when the courseware incorporates a physical or practical portion.

An example of the type of training in which Flipped Classroom proves to be successful is: safety training. When it comes to safety, it is always best to err on the side of precaution. Users go through FC safety training courses online before they actually set foot on the training site. This ensures they are familiar with the hazards they might encounter and are prepared to respond appropriately.


Looking Ahead

To recap, we have found that when the Flipped Classroom  has encountered criticism it has been used in the wrong place, with the wrong objectives, or with the wrong group of trainees. Once the smoke has cleared, and the hype has gone down, where can we expect to see the Flipped Classroom theory going? RosShelberg of iLX says that we will see this “instructional approach being implemented less, but far more effectively as instructors establish where it best fits into their training scheme”. In order for FC to remain a successful application, we need to realize that it simply will not work in every type of training course.

So let’s narrow our focus and continue applying Flipped Classroom in the right places, so that we can continue seeing its success.

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