Flip Your Virtual Training

| By Terry Brake

Flipping Classes

Two Chemistry teachers from a rural high school in Colorado - Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams -  had a problem: students spent an inordinate amount of time on buses to and from sporting events and other activities.  Students missed classes and struggled to keep up.

In 2007, they adopted the idea of inverting classes – what they called ‘flipping’ - which means having students read text, watch instructional videos or solve supplementary problems outside of the classroom.  This allowed actual class time to be used for answering questions, individualized coaching, mini-lectures, and collaborative groupwork.      

When teachers are freed from being the primary deliverers of knowledge (The Sage on the Stage syndrome), their focus can be directed to making the very best use of class time.  The classroom is a relatively inefficient site for knowledge delivery, but it can be highly productive one for exploring and applying concepts, experimenting, and demonstrating mastery.

Flipping Virtual Classes

Those of us training virtually in the corporate world know that allotted virtual classroom time can be short; what used to be a three-hour session is often now limited to 1 – 2 hours.  By necessity we must keep asking how can we make the very best use of virtual class time?

Let me give you an example.

At TMA World, one of our first applications of virtual classroom technology was for training global teams to manage cultural differences.   My approach to introducing participants to our model of cultural differences (The TMA Worldprism™) was basically traditional lecturing, but now with zappy animated PowerPoint slides.  I learned, of course, that no matter how much you dress it up, a lecture is still a lecture.  Introducing the model took up at least an hour of available class time.

I did what every Sage on the Stage needs to do at some point – let go, and trust the learner!  We created succinct pre-class materials to introduce the model, and short tests for reinforcing understanding.  The materials could be instructional videos, online questionnaires, podcasts, or downloadable booklets. They were designed to be interactive and engaging, and could be completed in 10 minutes or less.  Some of the videos were just 90 seconds in length.  This freed up virtual class time for answering questions, analyzing real-world scenarios, developing adaptive strategies for different cross-cultural interactions, and practicing skills in small online breakout groups.

Is there a problem with participants completing pre-class materials?  Very rarely.  We make it very clear in up-front communications that participants are very dependent on one another to get the best out of the training.  No one wants to be embarrassed in front of their colleagues.

If you have a concept, model, process, etc. that takes up a lot of time to explain in the virtual class, become a flipper.  

Author: Terry Brake

Terry has designed, developed, and delivered 100s of training programs for Fortune 1000 companies in many areas: global teamwork, global leadership, global cultural diversity, and general management skills. Many of these programs were delivered in traditional classrooms, but increasingly they are in virtual classrooms. To find out more click here.

 

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