The Unintentional Trainers Guide to….. The Flipped Classroom

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flipped classroomThe Flipped Classroom is a technique you can use to maximise the effectiveness of the face-to-face time that you have with your learners.


What is it?

Traditionally when you deliver learning face-to-face the session is made up of both theory and practical elements.  In some instances, if your audience is very new to the topic at hand you might even find yourself presenting for the majority of the session – giving them all the information that they need.

Now, whilst this is an easy pattern to fall into, it doesn’t necessarily make for the most effective learning situation.  The face-to-face time that you have with your learners is precious and it’s vital that you make the best use of it.  The flipped classroom is one technique that you can use to help you do this.

The premise is simple – you just flip the focus of your face-to-face sessions.  So rather than providing theory during these sessions, learners do this as pre-work, leaving the face-to-face time to focus on practical application, groups exercises and problem solving.


How Do I Use It?

Using this technique requires quite more preparation than the traditional delivery model, as you have to prepare and create all of the pre-work too.


Pre-work can take the form of:

  • Short video tutorials presented by you.
  • Information videos created by others, such as TED talks or subject experts.
  • Relevant articles or book excerpts

At the start of your face-to-face session it is always helpful to carry out a quick knowledge check with delegates.  This gives you the opportunity to ensure that everyone is starting out with the same level of knowledge and will let address any areas of confusion.  Just make sure that this portion of the session is kept to an absolute minimum – one good way to doing this is to ask learners to complete a pre-course learning questionnaire and send it to you in advance of your face-to-face session.   This should give you the information you need to lead an effective initial discussion.

During the face-to-face time you can:

  • Set case studies and have learners work in groups to apply their new knowledge and solve the problem.
  • Set group exercises, asking learners to explain, describe or analyse a particular element of the subject.
  • Have group discussions around the issues learners face when applying their new knowledge in their role.
  • Hold practice opportunities (role plays) for people to try out their new knowledge in a practical way.
  • Ask leaners to work on a live project i.e. create an action plan for tackling a live situation or issue they currently have using their new knowledge.  This kind of task can work well as either a group or individual task.

These are just some examples of the sorts of things you can do, there are many many more options which really help bring the theoretical knowledge to life for learners.

The first time you do this, it might feel quite strange – like you are missing out vital components of your session. But you are not.  Remind yourself that all of that stuff was provided to learners in advance of your face-to-face time and your job now is to make that knowledge as easy to apply back in their roles as possible, which will make your training much more effective and impactful.

I’d love to hear how you use this delivery technique!  Please share your experiences in the comments below or give us a shout on social media (buttons below!)



Founder of Zostera Ltd and The Trainers CPD Club. I've worked in L&D for over 16 years across both the public and private sectors.

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