In our previous blog we discussed flipping the classroom, an approach that makes corporate trainings more engaging, more fun and more impactful. The flipping the classroom theory has been around for decades, but so far failed to live up to its true potential. What is it about the traditional approach that gives it its stickiness? Why are most trainings still not fully flipped? And why are corporations not pushing harder for this new approach that’s unequivocally better?
At least part of the answer has to do with the role of the facilitator. In the traditional set-up, a facilitator spends considerable time explaining models and theories, followed by practising and discussing fictive examples. The (new) role of the facilitator is to bridge the gap between theory and fictive straightforward examples — which participants should have worked through prior to the training session — and daily turmoil.
That requires new skills and a new way of teaching. Even more so than before, facilitators have to master the frameworks on such a high level that they can engage in in-depth discussions about real-life examples coming from the participants. It’s not about explaining how to force fit theory in daily routines, it’s about together discovering how to adjust and trim down theory so it fits seamlessly into someone’s way of working and in their interaction with others.
For clarity, let’s compare corporate trainings to music. Before you can play in an orchestra, you first need to understand how your instrument works and how to read sheet music. The next step is practising scales. Once you know how to do it, you don’t need a teacher to go through the learning curve (if you are disciplined enough that is). After you practised scales for days on end, you might be ready to become part of an orchestra. There you need a conductor to help you play harmonically with others and respond to what happens around you.
In trainings, facilitators used to focus on explaining the instrument and the sheet music. Gradually they transitioned towards practising scales, making sure participants understood how to apply theory in a safe and simple environment. When we truly flip the classroom, we ask them to take it to the next level. We ask them to be the conductor. That’s a new and difficult role which takes time to fully grasp. So if you are a facilitator, ready yourself to be a conductor in a fully flipped classroom. And if you are a corporation hiring facilitators, ask yourself: are you hiring someone for your employees to practice scales with or are you hiring a conductor who brings out the music?
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