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Staff development trends: reverse classroom learning

Staff development trends: reverse classroom learning

In today’s mercurial business environment, employee development and corporate training are increasingly important.

If you’re considering using the latest e-learning tools or other platforms to advance employee development for your organization, consider this: according to Edgar Dale, a turn of the century educationist who explored information retention, people only retain 50% of what they see and hear two weeks after participating in a training.

That being said, learning retention can go as high as 70% if employees are engaged and participate in the discussion, and up to 90% if they are required to present it, or are able to do something with the actual material being presented.  

While Dale’s conclusions have been hotly debated for years, most trainers will tell you that there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to support the idea that simply presenting information (seeing and hearing) does not have the desired retention effect. 

This is where a flipped-classroom approach can have an enormous impact on staff development. 

Employee Development that Sticks

In its simplest form, a flipped classroom model allows learners to watch training sessions on their own time. Depending on the technology available, it allows a user to communicate with other participants online about the content. 

Imagine a scenario where you decide to videotape the trainer going through the lesson. If video is too much of an undertaking, choose a simpler approach, such as a podcast, or a Brainshark-type tool that allows you to synchronize slides and audio through a phone. 

Once you capture your lesson, you’ll need to disseminate it. If your organization doesn’t have an LMS or other platform to do this, it could be as simple as hosting the lesson on a server somewhere and providing a link to your learners through email.  

Participants are required to watch the lesson before their actual training session. This gives the audience a foundation for learning when they step into the future face-to-face session.

Laying a Groundwork for Learning

While the set-up can be simple, a flipped classroom training model requires planning, critical thinking, some trial and error, and an understanding of the objectives of your training. 

It also requires your classroom trainer to shift their approach from “sage on the stage to guide on the side.”  

Here are some creative ways to integrate a passive learning approach into an active learning session for employee development:

Start the session with a quiz of the recorded module:

  • Have students form into small groups.
  • Give them hands-on exercises to present in the last 20 minutes of the class.
  • Walk around, listen to the discussions and correct where needed, providing direction. 
  • Capture possible themes that would be interesting to explore as a group.

During the session:

  • Have everyone bring a laptop to the session so learners create their own training “nugget.”  
  • Ask them to think about a topic or piece of knowledge that was not covered in the pre-work, but that they feel everyone in the class could benefit from. 
  • Tell participants that their presentation cannot be any longer than 5 minutes.  
  • Everyone presents their nugget in the last 30 minutes of the session (if possible). If not, ask for volunteers.  
  • Focus the classroom time as a question and answer period.  
  • Have the group discuss things that they found particularly challenging or interesting from the video instruction.  
  • Address their questions, provide examples and engage other students in the discussion.

Obviously, the type of interactions that you develop will vary depending on the topic, objectives, audience and available technology. The bottom line here is to get creative and push the limits, creating an active learning environment within your own organization. 

The Benefits of Improved Employee Development

Your company can benefit from this approach of corporate training  in a variety of ways:

  • When the traditional training model is flipped and conducted by a skilled trainer, the experience is much more collaborative, generating a richer dialogue for participants.   
  • The trainer has an opportunity to interact with learners, rather than simply be the presenter. Whether in internal or external training, a better training relationship can lead to more credibility and a greater chance of repeat engagements in the future.   
  • This model gives trainers more time to interact with learners on a 1:1 basis, providing more individualized reach for students who are at varying levels of understanding and skill.   
  • Learners have the opportunity to “master” the topic in a more meaningful way, which can only improve performance and satisfaction. This is one of the most important benefits of the flipped classroom.  
  • Instead of having a passive training experience, learners will be able to engage in the material. If properly executed, it can improve learning retention through participation, discussion, exercises and a host of other techniques.

The efficacy of the flipped classroom model is in its early stages within corporations. That being said, when the model is properly executed, it can generate tremendous results in employee training and development.  

And its potential doesn’t end there. Imagine flipping the notorious “death by PowerPoint” meeting models. Everyone would be required to view the content beforehand, leaving the meeting time for constructive discussion and an exchange of ideas. 

The possibilities are indeed exciting for corporations who are willing to invest the time, energy, and creativity into this new approach to staff development and ultimately employee engagement