I first heard of flipped classroom in one of the TED talks. The concept of flipped classroom, as is the case with other learning and training innovations, originated in the universities. The idea stemmed from a need for the teacher in schools and colleges to spend more time interacting with students and answering their queries instead of simply lecturing.
Traditionally, teachers lectured to the students on new concepts and gave homework to test their understanding. In a flipped classroom, the lecturers are delivered in the form of videos which the student accesses at home. Get basic understanding of the subject at home and use the classroom for clarifying doubts, have discussions and interact with the facilitator and peers. The focus is more on knowledge application than knowledge assimilation.
Can such a concept be relevant to corporate training?
Absolutely! In fact, we recently concluded developing an eLearning program for one of our clients. The client is a manufacturer of high-precision equipment and one of their products required comprehensive training for using the equipment and accurately interpreting the data produced (which were in the form of graphs). They needed to provide product training to their B2B customers. Product training was quite theoretical, as it was not so much about the product but about what the product can do. It needed understanding and assimilation of the concept. Therefore, the client first requested us to create an eLearning course that explained the equipment and the multitude of data that can be obtained from it. The learning was planned in two steps.
Step 1: Completing an eLearning module
The participants registered for the eLearning course to understand the theory behind the product and gain valuable inputs about the product. Most of the learners were using the product and therefore could experiment and analyze the data obtained and note down any problems they encountered in the process. Since the course was available online, participants had access to this information all the time and could go back and forth and refer to the information as many times as they wanted. A specified time frame was given to the participants to complete the online module.
Step 2: Attending the virtual classroom event
The online module was followed by a virtual classroom event that built on the knowledge gained by learners. Participants came to the classroom with prior knowledge of using the equipment. This saved valuable time of the instructor in giving basic information. Users shared their experiences using the equipment or interpreting the data. The instructor had more time sharing his expertise and the classroom event was transformed into a lively interaction between the participants instead of a one way lecture delivered by the instructor. The instructor had an opportunity to provide value addition by giving information that the participants could relate and apply to their jobs easily.
Now, is that not a flipped classroom? Well, I don’t think the client was really aware of the flipped concept. It is basically the need to maximize the output of the classroom experience that resulted in them devising this process. Nevertheless, the fact is that a pre-classroom training in the form of eLearning module was made a pre-requisite to join the virtual classroom event – that’s nothing but a flipped classroom in corporate training!
Have you encountered similar experiences either organizing training programs or attending such events? Do share the same.