Training & Development - Flipped Learning: Our Top 3 Benefits

By Tom Phelps posted 09-14-2016 12:39


Since starting my role as Fish & Richardson’s Training & Development Specialist a few short years ago, I have had the pleasure of working with some true professionals in the field:  I work for a manager who did college undergraduate work in adult education, many of my peers have been Trainers and IT Specialists for years, and I myself have a degree and background in education. 


Combining all these resources to ensure we have the best training options available is my aim.  It is to that end that we have introduced the Flipped Classroom (or Flipped Training) method to our firm, specifically with regard to our current firm-wide project to upgrade from Windows 7 and Office 2013 to Windows 10 and Office 2016.  Though it is still a relatively new method, Flipped Training is being met with optimism and success, and has opened new doors for us to improve the way our training and development is handled.  


In this series of posts, I will be addressing the benefits, methodology, opportunities and challenges of implementing Flipped Training. In this the first post, I’d like to address the benefits, but first, here’s a brief explanation of the Flipped Training model.


What is Flipped Training?

Flipped Training simply takes the traditional methods of teaching and “flips” them around – providing lessons, instructions, or brief videos first. These training mediums are followed by classroom time with instructors, whether that be in-person, via conference call, WebEx, or Skype for Business (screen sharing). The aim of this classroom time is to discuss aspects of the learning that has been done before the in-person session, and allows learners to use the instructors as resources for more specific questions, help, and guidance.


It’s an excellent method, and here are just a few of the benefits:


Benefit #1:  It’s Learner-Centered

Our Flipped Classrooms are set up in an open enrollment style, so that users have the option to proactively register for a flipped learning session.  This has been the case during out Windows 10 upgrade, as users have come to these sessions having already spent time in their new operating environment, and therefore have specific questions related to their own personal experience.


This model allows the training sessions to be centered on the specific questions and topics the learners bring to the sessions, rather than a predetermined agenda. This can lead to more learner-specific topics that may not otherwise be covered in a traditional learning environment.


Benefit #2:  It Provides for Peer-to-Peer Collaboration

Having two paralegals in a flipped classroom, or two Legal Secretaries, is also beneficial. Multiple learners who use the same applications are going to encounter many of the same issues.  While these may not be issues an instructor would address or even consider in their lesson plans, participants with similar roles will bring these issues to the sessions and thereby drive the learning.  


Benefit #3:  It is Time-Friendly

May of our existing training sessions are scheduled for 30- or 60-minutes.  This may be necessary in some cases, like when our Patent Prosecution Training Administrator has some position-specific items to cover with a new hire.  She may need to block out time to do some hands-on, face-to-face training on a variety of topics.  Often times, however, it simply isn’t necessary to schedule that much time. 


When I started at Fish, for example, I was scheduled to attend a 30-minute Excel training session. I truly enjoy using Excel for a variety of uses, so I was looking forward to honing my skills in the application.  When I came to the class, however, the instructor and I quickly realized that we would not need the entire 30-minutes when I mentioned the term “pivot tables.”  He realized that I knew much more than his syllabus outlined, so we simply decided to adjourn.  In this particular case, it wasn’t a poor use of my time, as I was the only learner scheduled for the class so we able to forego the entire session.  Had I been part of a larger class and the agenda actually had an items I needed or wanted to learn, I would have sat through 20-25 minutes of class to get to 5-minutes of valuable training. We are trying to eliminate some of that, and the Flipped Training method is a great asset to do so.


Where Do We Go from Here?

Our Learning Management System (LMS) currently has about 450 courses:  some are eLearning modules, some are Instructor-Led courses, and some are a combination of both.  Our aim is to combine as many of these courses as is feasible to implement the most effective training method.  As I continue to work to find ways to combine eLearning and Instructor-Led courses into one Flipped Training course, you the reader will be the beneficiary of my experience, insight, and hopefully, success!


Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions or feedback – as a trainer, I’m always learning.