Flip the Classroom: an effective method for corporate training

8 Dec, 2022Ravianne Van Vliet

In today’s challenging world of work, setting up effective corporate training programs and exploring new learning techniques is high on the priority list of many forward-thinking L&D leaders. A blended learning model like the flipped classroom is an effective and accessible method to engage employees and increase their motivation to master new skills at work. Ultimately, this will lead to organizations being more flexible, agile, and ready for the Future of Work. Let’s dive in.

 

CONTENTS

  1. Intro: A Trip Down Memory Lane 
  2. What is a Flipped Classroom?
  3. Examples of a Flipped Classroom
  4. Activities in a Flipped Classroom Model 
  5. Benefits of a Flipped Classroom
  6. Are there disadvantages to this model?
  7. Tools for a Flipped Classroom
  8. Conclusion 

 

1. Intro: A Trip Down Memory Lane

Take a minute or two to think back to your times at high school or university. It’s very likely the following memory will pop up: you’re in a physical classroom together with your fellow students, listening to a teacher or professor presenting a theory on a chalkboard or whiteboard – the so-called ‘chalk-and-talk’ method. The most diligent students would pay full attention and dutifully take notes, but the majority would doze off, having difficulty staying focused during those long, one-way teaching sessions. If you were lucky, there would be some room to ask questions, but usually, only a few minutes would remain to have them addressed – the teacher would just be too busy lecturing, and your co-students would already be packing their bags and getting up to leave. After class, you would be assigned your homework – and off you went. Sounds familiar? 

 

Is the traditional classroom fit for today’s corporate learning environment?

Now in principle, there’s nothing wrong with traditional forms of education. Linear learning methods, where the course material is offered in a fixed order, is structured and organized and the impact is easy to measure. The classic classroom style as mentioned above can be an excellent way to deliver information to large groups. The question is: is it the most effective way to create a sustainable learning ecosystem in today’s corporate world? If you’re active in the field of L&D, HR or corporate training, we probably don’t have to tell you that the answer to this question is no. With corporate training programs, you want employees to be engaged, practice with peers, and eagerly apply the learning content on-the-job. You want them to have meaningful discussions about the knowledge they’ve gained, and interact with their instructors and colleagues, and you want to develop customized training strategies that are fit for the specific needs of individuals, teams, and the company as a whole. 

 

L&D leaders need to pull out the stops to stay agile

Interestingly enough though, many organizations still apply a traditional corporate learning strategy, where training is delivered in a live classroom or online, with little to no room for interaction between the teacher and the student, or the student and their peers. Needless to say, this greatly reduces the effectiveness of long-term learning outcomes. Moreover, it simply isn’t very future-forward to opt for these relatively low-cost methods, especially in this age of disruption. After all, a global recession is looming, and reskilling the workforce is critical to prepare for the Future of Work. To keep talent onboard, prioritizing L&D and talent management is the way to go. According to a recent LinkedIn study, 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers. Now more than ever, L&D leaders need to pull out all the stops to stay agile. The good news? Thanks to continuous technological developments and pedagogical insights, there are new ways to maximize training results and push the needle forward in the corporate learning space. Flipping the classroom is one of them. 

 

Listening to a trainer presenting a theory for hours is no longer of this time. Most students already get the gist after 20% of the time passed, while others want to have the flexibility to skip back if there’s something they don’t understand. Modern-day learning techniques like the flipped classroom are much more effective for reskilling and upskilling your workforce.

Peter Kuperus, CEO & Founder Lepaya

 

2. What is a Flipped Classroom? 

Where traditionally a teacher presents a theory in the classroom and students do assignments at home, in a flipped classroom these two learning stages are reversed – ‘flipped’, so to say. The flipped classroom is a blended learning model that moves active learning activities to the classroom, like doing assignments, having group discussions, giving presentations, or solving a problem together. The theoretical aspect of the training is studied individually pre-class, in the student’s own time. The core content can be presented in many forms – books, articles, blogs, videos, podcasts, or a dedicated L&D platform. This model allows students to have a basic understanding of a topic when they enter the classroom. The class itself becomes a dynamic, interactive, and creative space for students to have profound learning experiences – ultimately leading to better performance. The model gained popularity in the past decade in regular schooling systems and is now finding its way into the world of corporate training.

 

You might also like: The Endless possibilities of Blended Learning

 

3. 7 Examples of a Flipped Classroom

There are several types of flipped classrooms. Often, one or more combinations of the following examples are used: 

 

1. Conventional Flipped Classroom

This is the most standard approach to flipping the classroom. First, students prepare for class in their own time by reading, viewing, or listening to the learning materials. Then, during class, they put their knowledge into practice while the trainer has time for one-on-one sessions or giving extra attention to those who need it.

 

2. Discussion or Debate Oriented Flipped Classroom

Students are introduced to the topic at home by studying whitepapers, e-books, and other content – think TED Talks, YouTube videos, and educational podcasts. During class, they engage in a debate or a series of discussions about the topic, with each student bringing a different perspective to the table, showcasing their takeaways on the subject while practicing their storytelling skills at the same time. 

 

3. The Micro Flipped Classroom

This flipped classroom approach is a blend between the traditional ‘chalk-and-talk’ method and a standard flipped classroom. It allows the teacher time to give a lecture in class, while also promoting discussions and interactions between students during that class. This method is often used by organizations transitioning from traditional learning techniques to a blended learning method like the flipped classroom.

 

4. The Faux Flipped Classroom

In this model, students watch videos in class or are given some time at the beginning of a lesson to study the content. Then, they are guided by the teacher, receive individual support and attention as needed, or do assignments together. 

 

5. The Virtual Flipped Classroom

With some forms of training, spending time in a physical classroom might not be necessary. With the virtual flipped classroom, employees attend classes online. Assignments and exercises are done together through dedicated learning management systems or personalized training using AI and Virtual Reality.

 

6. Flipping the Teacher

As the name suggests, this flipped classroom model reverses the role of a teacher: students present the class with learning content they created themselves, like a video or presentation. This approach profoundly helps employees to show their competencies and reinforce what they’ve learned. The teacher is there, but primarily to guide the process.

 

7. Group-based Flipped Classroom

Finally, there’s the group-based flipped classroom. It’s very similar to the conventional flipped classroom, but here the emphasis lies on teamwork. Students are divided into small groups during class, where they challenge each other and work together to solve a problem or discuss a topic. The teamwork element can also be included in the stage where employees practice in groups outside of class.

 

Flipped Classroom session

4. Activities in a Flipped Classroom Model 

For the flipped classroom model to be effective in a corporate setting, L&D leaders must first consider whom they are targeting within the organization. For example, what’s the skills level of the people attending? Are they first-time leaders, seasoned managers, or new talents who have only recently joined the company? Does this particular learning path reflect their individual needs? Based on those findings, it will be easier to customize the activities in the flipped classroom.

 

The below practices are generally most effective in the flipped classroom approach:

 

  • Whole class discussions: having in-class discussions about a topic is a proven way to make the subject stick. It’s interesting to listen to the viewpoints of others, and it’s also a great way to test someone’s understanding of a topic. This framework has various options: from a brainstorming session to a formal debate. 
  • Collaborative group exercises: one of the hallmarks of corporate training is collaborative learning, as teamwork and communication are key to running a successful business. The flipped classroom is a perfect setting for groups to work together on projects and exercises, both during and after class.
  • Think-Pair-Share strategy: here, students pair up with a partner and discuss a given problem or challenge before presenting their findings to the group. It’s a great exercise to improve individual communication skills. It’s also very suitable for matching employees from cross-functional teams to learn from each other. 
  • Integrating Virtual Reality: at Lepaya, we believe in enhancing learning effectiveness by adding Virtual Reality to our face-to-face skill training programs. It’s a very hands-on and responsive method where learners can directly engage, practice, and reflect on the skills they’ve learned and discuss their experiences with their peers. 

 

Looking for ways to train your employees more effectively by adding VR to your L&D strategy? Download our whitepaper on ‘Virtual Reality as an L&D solution’ 

 

Get it here

5. Benefits of a Flipped Classroom

Introducing and implementing the flipped classroom model in corporate training programs has a number of benefits: 

 

Efficient use of time 

The flipped classroom model saves valuable time, as employees can study the material at their own pace and when it fits their schedule. All they need to do is make sure they come to class prepared and then exert the new knowledge and skills in practice. It also gives trainers more room to interact with students and guide individual employees efficiently in real-time.

 

Higher levels of employee engagement

During class, students are required to work together in groups, interact, and come up with creative solutions. This dynamic approach improves levels of engagement, as people are stimulated to participate actively, making the learning experience personal and fun. 

According to research, activities like debating in class, role play, and simulations are highly effective as teaching tools, leading to a deeper understanding and increased motivation to master new skills. 

 

Better learning impact

This learning framework focuses on active and intentional learning, which is proven to result in a higher level of emotional investment in the training, especially when compared to the traditional classroom. Also, collaborating and sharing feedback with peers helps improve knowledge retention, especially in the long run. At the end of the day, flipped learning will contribute to increased productivity and employee performance, as people can directly apply the knowledge gained in their daily work. 

 

6. Are there disadvantages of this model?

Like any learning technique, there’s also criticism of the flipped classroom. Understanding those disadvantages will make it easier to counter them. 

 

Risk that participants don’t cover the material in advance

If the pre-class learning material isn’t engaging or people are unsure what to do, they will feel less motivated to finish their ‘homework’ before the face-to-face training starts. This can be countered by ensuring everybody knows what is expected of them in advance and by offering bite-size learning content that is engaging and interesting beforehand. 

 

Resistance to change

Even though flipping the classroom helps trainers and employees save time, setting up a flipped training for the first time will take some time and energy – which is quite normal when transforming to a new training method. In some organizations, management and employees can be reluctant to these types of change. An important responsibility of L&D and HR is to make them aware of the benefits of this learning method. Running a small-scale pilot allows adversaries to embrace it faster.

 

7. Tools for a Flipped Classroom 

The flipped classroom model combines both in-person training and smart tools for e-learning. There are many technological resources and apps out there to make the flipped classroom a success. They can often be integrated into a Learning Management System (LMS) or Learning Experience Platform (LXP). Here are some examples:

 

  • Instructional and interactive videos 
  • Audio lectures 
  • Slideshows 
  • Screencasting
  • Virtual Reality (like computer-generated environments and simulations)
  • Quizzes &  games

 

At Lepaya, we combine (virtual) short classroom sessions with engaging learning content via our app. The app explains the frameworks, sends nudges and provides the opportunity to set personal goals in an accessible way. It makes the learning process efficient and enjoyable. 

 

 

Conclusion 

Implementing a carefully designed learning model like the flipped classroom can significantly contribute to the overall success of individual employees, teams, and organizations. It’s an effective method for reskilling and upskilling the workforce – which is pivotal in these disruptive times. In addition, flipping the classroom enables participants to experience a deeper level of learning and feel more engaged during training sessions, because of the interactive, responsive and personal approach.

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