The Flipped Classroom: How a Grade-School Mentality Can Improve eLearning

By September 23, 2013eLearning Solutions
Flipped Classroom

While utilizing the “flipped classroom” for eLearning might seem juvenile, it can be effective.

It was author Robert Fulgham who penned the group of essays entitled “All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” The tidbits of advice grace the walls of kindergarten classrooms everywhere, including gems like “When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together,” and “Remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first words you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.” Sure, it’s a cute sentiment, but could the kindergarten sentiment and a flipped classroom really work in a business setting?

Fulgham may have been onto something. While it’s definitely nice to share and eat a snack at work, the real genius is behind the idea of applying school-based learning to your organizational eLearning. Armed with a more playful attitude, group projects and even learning-based games, everything you needed to know about eLearning strategy, you probably learned in grade school.

The Flipped Classroom

Adopted by educators across the country, the flipped classroom model skips over the traditional educational model where students are required to listen to a lecture in class and then complete homework based on the information. In a flipped classroom, students listen to the lecture using software or online resources on their own time, reserving precious class time for projects, activities and discussion for more effective learning. Here are some of the ways that a flipped classroom model works with eLearning for a more effective outcome.

1. It relies on individual participant responsibility and pacing.

The flipped classroom only works if the participants are willing to do the individual work. Good teachers know that every student is different, which means a lot of adjustment for different levels of learning. In eLearning, the flipped model can work as long as the participants are willing to listen to lectures and absorb information before coming to class. This requires resources – from prerecorded audio lessons to online videos, individuals are responsible for listening and learning at their own pace before coming to class. This allows time to stop and reflect, better absorption and a clear delineation between who is willing to do the work – and who is falling behind.

2. It offers hands-on experience.

Think back to the best classes you had in elementary classes. Chances are that the ones you remember best are the ones where you got to do, rather than just hear. Whether it was dissecting a frog in science or adding up numbers using small cubes, experience-based learning allows better information retention. As Sheldon Horowitz, EdD, director of professional services for the National Center for Learning Disabilities, tells Scholastic, “When students… demonstrate skills to each other they are validating their understanding of the material being learned and, often in ways that adults are less successful, helping their peers to build and master new skills.”

Reserving course time for projects and hands-on learning could help your organization get more out of courses and training. Whether it’s playing a game that predicts the outcome of certain actions or using role play to test out new techniques, the flipped model allows better retention through experience, teamwork, and peer-based learning.

3. It allows the instructor to detect errors in thinking.

Since you’re not a mind-reader, using a traditional learning model means you don’t really know what your students retain and think about the material after they leave class. In fact, you could invest in an entire marketing course for your entire organization, but each student could get something completely different from the message. Switching it up and having discussions, games and projects during class time allows you to see the concepts in practice. That way, if someone has it wrong, you know before it’s applied in a real-word setting.

So, while cookies and milk could attract a few more students to your training meeting, eLearning using school techniques might be a better bet. Whether you group students together to create a project or model or you use game play to hit the concepts home, it’s important that you use class time wisely. By skipping the lectures and utilizing software, audio and video, a flipped classroom structure can make your eLearning more effective.

Well, cookies and milk wouldn’t hurt either.

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