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The 3-Point Formula for an Effective “Flipped Learning” Business Training and Development Program

by Patrick Bosworth

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The “flipped learning” concept has broken into the leadership development and management training industry, but what exactly is “flipped learning” and what does an effective flipped classroom environment look like?

In a flipped learning setting, students are given self-study materials that introduce a subject before any further learning takes place. The idea is that base information is effectively learned on one’s own, and provides a base upon which “expert information,” or information provided by an expert lecturer or facilitator, can be delivered.

The flipped learning pedagogy asserts that basic information can be learned independently, reserving classroom time for expanding on more complex ideas as well as focusing on how to apply the concepts back on the job. This better utilizes expert knowledge and hands-on participative activities, helping to maximize classroom or lecture time and making the learning experience more effective.

Flipped learning is proven to be more effective platform for training leadership than its traditional classroom-to-homework settings. A 2014 study by the European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning put flipped classrooms to the test on students in the business department at the College for Academic Studies in Israel. According to the study, when trained with flipped classroom methodology, “students reported that [learning materials] between lessons enhanced interest, alleviated boredom, and enriched the learning.”

Not all flipped learning is created equal

However, not flipped learning atmospheres are created equal. For flipped learning to be effective, it must have the following qualities:

  • Relevant to the curriculum. Pre-work should not be an opportunity to crank out some of the boring or easy aspects of the curriculum so you can focus more on a “fun team-building” event when the actual training event occurs. Remember, a flipped classroom is supposed to strengthen and extend learning in the classroom/lecture/group discussion setting. Make sure your pre-work curriculum is building a strong, related base for the information that will be presented and discussed during the actual event.
  • Interactive and engaging. The way you dispense information for the pre-training self-study is important for setting the tone for the overall training program. It is your opportunity to pre-engage learners in the material, encourage them to apply the new basic information to themselves and their positions for better discussions during the event, and to create a base of information upon which the more advanced curriculum can be applied. Pre-work that includes multiple medias that appeal to different learning styles and senses, that includes story-based learning, and that encourages participants to individualize information to themselves and their professional situations, make the pre-learning most effective.
  • It should stimulate deeper thinking. The most effective flipped classroom self-study presents information in a way that makes the participant consider deeper connections, thoughts, and ideas around the curriculum.

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As an example…

We typically don’t like to toot our own horns or come off as sales-pitchy, but our team of organizational psychologists and employee development experts have worked hard to create an effective flipped learning environment. Here’s how we’ve implemented the flipped learning model in our employee and leadership development programs. This model along with our reinforcement strategies has highly contributed to our 3X above average retention and long-term application rate:

Leadership Choice begins each of our programs with each participant taking an iConnect Communication Assessment. In addition to the participant learning about their own communication pattern, they also learn how to identify the communication patterns of the people around them. This information is used throughout every training module Leadership Choice offers, allowing participants to personalize the techniques learned for their own personal communication patterns and the communication patterns of others.

Besides creating more effective application in the workplace, it also helps learning to be more effective in the training and development classroom as it creates an easily-relatable base of knowledge upon which new information can be connected.

After this initial assessment is complete, the participant will also receive an interactive virtual workbook to complete before attending every live virtual training workshop. This helps to introduce the basic concepts of the material and to provide some exploration and assessment to help get participants’ minds thinking about the material, applying it to their personal business setting, and preparing them to ask more advanced and personalized questions while accelerating their learning.

Final thoughts on effective flipped learning programs

The most important consideration for self-study work in a flipped learning setting is making sure it’s providing a strong and personalized base to which participants can connect more advanced curriculum. By using this methodology, you better engage the participant while empowering him or her to have a more successful training or development experience.

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About the Author

Pat Bosworth

Founder and CEO
Patrick effectively coaches leaders at all levels and across a number of industries with a pragmatic, consultative approach. Previously, he was vice president with Right Management and held other senior OD and development positions in manufacturing and the professional services Industries. He holds an M.S. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Lamar University.

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