Flipped Learning – The Latest in Learning

Flipped learning has the attention of educators and students alike. What is it? As recent AP story described it as  “a technology-driven teaching method known as ‘flipped learning’ because it flips the time-honored model of classroom lecture and exercises for homework – the lecture becomes homework and class time is for practice.” Technology has enabled this new methodology as students can access videos of their teachers via the web.

My eldest child experienced this new form of learning for the first time as a high school freshman. As the article shared, flipped learning required adjustment on the part of students, but my child’s feedback was positive. Class time was more engaging and that means something coming from a teenager.

I was fascinated by this development as someone who studies how we optimize learning in pursuit of new knowledge & skills. Embedded in this notion is that learning requires multiple stages. People digest information but then more importantly have to use it.

But in the second phase, the application process, people inevitably have questions, make mistakes or don’t understand. They are at the door of understanding but can’t go through. Here the most valuable asset most assuredly in the classroom – the teacher –  is amplified with this method of teaching. The teacher provides information via the taped lectures but more importantly engages with the student during the classroom by answering questions, providing encouragement, or redirecting the student. They actively mentor.

For us in the workplace, the implications of this new style of learning are critical. Many times we hear the slogan “our people make the difference”. Companies back this up by spending significant time and resources developing their staff – including leadership conferences, university degree programs, and in-house training.

But here is where we may not be optimizing this investment. More times that not I see employees return from these educational opportunities only to get back on the trend mill of their day to day job. Their leader, perhaps not in attendance with that employee or focused on their priorities, fails to engage the employee with what they learned. It is not by design; it is just the fact of a busy work place. We have all been there.

The good news is we do not have to flip everything to get some better results. Here are some simple things to maximize the investment in our workforce:

  • Remember learning happens in stages. Focus as much attention on what happens after the educational experience. Have employees share how they want to apply any new learnings when returning from a class, training session or conference.
  • Create a dialogue. In one-on-one conversations with employees or department meetings, be specific in connecting the employee’s work to past educational opportunities. Reference past learning opportunities when coaching or mentoring a leader through a project or problem. Connect the learning to the real aspects of the job.
  • Learn as a team. Provide an article, video or someone other didactic material to a team and ask for feedback on how this applies to the work the group is doing.

Bottom line is active learning is key for skill or knowledge acquisition. Just as teachers can be the difference for students, our organizations’ leaders and the workplace are vital components of the learning process for employees.

By Oakleigh
Published: February 18, 2013