Like most trainers, I have too much content and not enough hours. As I complete my needs assessment, develop my instructional design, and present the deliverables to my stakeholders, the response is usually, “This is so great. Can you accomplish it in less time?” 

I have been training for more than 26 years. One of my instructors, Dave Meier, taught me that “learning is creation, not consumption. Only what the learner creates is ever really learned.” I also remember a colleague, Lynn Solem, sharing, “Divide your materials into three sections: need to know, nice to know, and where to find.” 

Those of us who understand and respect adult learners know that our courses must be relevant and allow time for practical application and discussion. If I can’t see how to use it or how it will make a difference, why should I be here? Sadly, in most instructor-led training sessions, virtual or face-to-face, too much time is spent on lecture and sharing information rather than practice and hands-on exploration of the material. 

Research regarding learning transfer suggests that there is better retention and application of learning when we deliver for application. As we lay out our lesson plans, 70 percent of the activities should be participant driven and 30 percent are instructor led. We are a “guide on the side,” not the “sage on the stage.” Think about teaching a course on effective coaching and spending the entire time on why it matters—the challenges, the process, the benefits—and never allowing managers to actually practice coaching one another. After the training session, what is the likelihood participants will feel comfortable and confident using their new skills? I think you know the answer. 

This brings me to my interest in ATD’s Flipped Classroom workshop. I desperately needed help on how to restructure my classes so that my time with participants had maximum impact. So, I attended the LearnNow: Flipped Classroom in April 2016 in San Francisco.

What I loved about the course was the open exchange of ideas and information among participants as well as with our awesome facilitators. I left the program with a detailed action plan on to how to flip my emotional intelligence course. What a great feeling to walk away knowing that I could immediately apply what I learned to an existing course and make it so much more effective. 

Advertisement

A key takeaway for me was the difference between facilitator-suggested exercises and learner-generated activities. Asking participants to watch a video, read a blog, listen to a podcast, or interview a co-worker prior to the class has allowed me to focus more of my “face time” on demonstration and application or experiential engagement. I also have more time for self-reflection and processing the materials so participants are prepared to take that next positive step when they leave my class. Providing references and resources gives participants a road map for where to go for help and take their learning to the next level.

I have incorporated the flipped classroom model into my lesson planning and course design template. It forces me to ask the important question, “Where and how is the best place to deliver this content?” 

I’m still a flipped classroom novice, however. I’ve made positive progress, and then taken two steps back. When I’m stressed or rushed, I want to go back to what is comfortable for me. Like any habit, it takes discipline, focus, and practice to apply these techniques and make them the new normal. My motivation is ensuring that my participants experience real value during their time with me and one another. The flipped classroom is helping me to ensure that my sessions have a positive return on investment for everyone involved. 

I hope you will join me in Atlanta March 21-22 for LearnNow: Flipped Classroom.