Flipping the classroom and using the Learning Line
Within the blizzard of new jargon associated with online learning, ‘flipping the classroom’ is one of the most widely-used phrases. As a process it seems to be gaining broad acceptance with educators. “Online education is highly controversial” the New York Times said recently, “but the flipped classroom is a strategy that nearly everyone agrees on”.
Flipping the classroom means asking learners to absorb content outside the classroom, then to work through problems and discuss the content in class. Typically, learners watch lectures on video, read key texts on tablets or PCs, or listen to audio as they travel to work or do the washing up. In essence, the traditional process of using class time to absorb new content while working on problems at home is turned on its head.
Administrators, trainers, tutors and company mentors can use the Learning Line to support efforts to flip the classroom, whether their groups are on a short training course or studying for a much more extensive professional qualifications.
The process boils down to learning first then discussing, practising or analysing when a group meets. The administrator can message a group with links to content such as a video or text. Learners absorb the new content in their own time – at home, on their smartphone, or in time reserved for self-study at work.
Problems and questions can be raised on the timeline – either by sharing questions with the group, or by messaging tutors privately for explanations and help.
The next time a group or class convenes in real life, the tutor can check the dashboard to see where each learner is with the content and adapt the lesson accordingly. So the Learning Line can be used to make sure each student is up to speed and increase the chance of time together being spent usefully.
The great thing about adapting content to the Learning Line is that while learners are working through it in their own time, problems can be raised and clarifications provided to the whole group when they’re needed or requested. Meanwhile the tutor can get useful feedback about the quality of the content – which bits work, which bits need improvement. Building in this type of KPI to the Learning Line was a key feature from the start..
One of the obvious advantages of this process from the learner’s point of view is the ability to rewind the material, navigate back through written content or listen again for clarity or reinforcement. This is of great value when dealing with complex subjects: some learners are often shy about asking questions during the middle of a lecture, but the Learning Line offers the chance to do just that – without interrupting or getting the sense that a question is irrelevant or stupid. This ability to follow the content in one’s own time also allows space for reflection, and learners will be able to digest it better or come up with more thoughtful analysis and questions later.
What’s the best way to flip your professional development?
A little bit of theory is needed to get the most out of flipping your learning. Firstly, it is generally accepted that learners need a basis of factual knowledge. Summarising recent research into cognition and performance, the National Academy of Sciences said, “This principle emerges from research that compares the performance of experts and novices and from research on learning and transfer. Experts, regardless of the field, always draw on a richly structured information base; they are not just “good thinkers” or “smart people.” The ability to plan a task, to notice patterns, to generate reasonable arguments and explanations, and to draw analogies to other problems are all more closely intertwined with factual knowledge than was once believed.”
Facts are important, as the UK’s Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove keeps telling us!
Without being too rigid about this approach, the content studied before learner meets trainer can be designed to give this factual foundation. So it is worth giving thought to planning. It should provide the basis for using meet-up time productively. Learners will struggle if they’re dropped into a new topic with no preparation or context, so it should allow them to orientate themselves as they absorb it in their own time.
The content must also correspond to learners’ available time. Professionals don’t have much time – they have families, free time, and of course they’re usually dedicated to their work. This means thinking about the length of videos and the amount of reading learners should be asked to do. Likewise administrators and tutors need to be attentive to the activity in their group, which they can follow using the dashboard and by watching individual learners’ timelines.
The Learning Line is attuned to exploiting one of the latest approaches to online learning, and it offers tutors the ability to introduce all sorts of new content to learners without worrying whether it is going over their heads or, conversely, proving too easy.
If you’d like to know more please get in touch and we’ll give you a demonstration.