Flipped Classes – Putting the Theory into Practice

Flipped Classes

Introduction

Flipped classes are becoming popular in business now, but not everybody is aware of them, so we will try to give you some background here before describing how we implement them.

Flipped classroom graphic
A depiction of how a flipped class is organised.

Flipped classes evolved from academia during 2007. Technology became simple enough for lecturers to create homework for students to prepare for a class before attending it. (In practice, it was the ability of PowerPoint to create a video with a voice over that was the turning point). This in turn meant lecturers did not have to spend the first part of a class teaching students the basics. It allowed them to go straight into the higher value elements of teaching – the exercises and practical elements. The lecturers recorded their classroom sessions and posted a video of them on YouTube. Once a class had finished, the lecturer helped the student remotely during a check and extend period of time. Flipped classes are an evolution of blended learning.

This approach had several benefits for the lecturers. Firstly it reduced their workload having to re-teach student who had missed the class. Secondly, if a student hadn’t understood something, they could watch the video of the class again at a later time.

Evolution of the Flipped Class

Within business circles the flipped class has evolved from the academic model and there are several ways it can be implemented. Our preferred method uses the following components:

1. Before the Class

In the preparation phase students need to cover all the basics of the course being taught. We use a mixture of methods, mostly including:

To deliver these various elements we create a course within an LMS. Each of the different parts makes up a module that we can assign to students. As they take the modules, we track their progress so we know that they are ready to attend the class. The last module they take contains “signposts” as to what to expect during the classroom element itself.

2. During the Class

When the students attend the class, we recommend beginning with a very quick refresher of the pre-course learning. This doesn’t mean going into it in detail again, but just reminding the students of the key takeaways from the preparation. Then, we move rapidly into scenario-based training. This necessitates an amount of preparation before the class. The lecturer (or facilitator as we prefer to call them) needs to have a pool of pre-built scenarios that they can give to the class. We template scenarios to make the building of them easy. Students work collaboratively together to solve the scenarios that are related to their individual business and roles. We allow the students to have an element of control over deciding which scenarios they should take, making some of them core, and others optional.

We recommend that the class is filmed and our partners at Tympani Productions are great at doing this – especially with their Rich Media TV offering. The film can be hosted on the LMS afterwards, or links given to the students.

Recording a class

An important element of the classroom time is continuous assessment of the way the students are performing. This gives us confidence that they are actually learning how to do their job – rather than merely attending a class.

Scalability

We build classes so they are scalable – to about 50 people in each. This means you can train relatively large numbers of people in short timeframes. We do this by implementing a facilitator pyramid. The lead facilitator directs the class and controls which scenarios are being given. Students are divided into groups of about 6 per table, and each table is assigned another supporting facilitator. Facilitators with less experience can call on other more experienced facilitators in the room if they have difficulty supporting their group. We’ve found that this setup works very well, even with technically difficult applications to train on.

At the end of the class we give “signposts” to what happens next.

3. After the Class

Post classroom, students can re-watch the filmed parts of the class and take the preparation materials again if they desire. The facilitators who were assigned to them will continue supporting the students, often as they move into a User Acceptance Testing phase with a product, or as support desk questions are asked.

It’s best to use the LMS again, creating post-course tests and surveys, and we use Kirkpatrick in our design philosophy for this.

Additionally, implementing an EPSS solution using a toolset like TT-Knowledge Force combined with Quick Access provides on-going support and allows a knowledge base to be built and maintained easily and efficiently.

If you’d like to find out more about how we build flipped classes for industry today, then please drop us a line.