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Flipping learning: Getting started

You hear a lot today about flipping the classroom. Here is a quick definition:

A Learning model where the lecture and homework elements of a course are reversed. Short video lectures are viewed by learners before the class, then in-class time is devoted to exercises, projects, or discussions.

Great idea, promotes more relationship and experiential learning, when it is done right.

But I believe that is only the beginning. In Enterprise learning, we need to flip learning. Let me describe what that looks like for me and how corporations can do this.


Today, people are busy, pulled in many different directions. You see articles suggesting that people plan time in their day to reflect, plan time to think. Travel is decreasing. L&D sees increases in no shows, late cancellations and challenges to showing business impact. In this anytime, anywhere world, people can find quick answers rather than go to training.

In previous blogs, I have talked about the revolution in L&D, with technology and big data enabling better approaches, better information and the ability to reach learners like never before. The technology can now tie disparate systems together and to personalize learning paths and engage learners.

True Behavioral change

Does that mean just implement technology? No, again this is not a “if you build it they will come” proposition nor does it spell the end of learning. Quite the opposite. What the tech does for L&D is allow personal, mobile solutions that build a flow. And that will open learning, engage the workforce and build expertise better than we have previously.

In other words, we have the technology to drive “continuous learning” and then to flip learning.

Cool. But to me, there are new pieces learning professionals need to learn. We know that learners need more than a 90 second how to video to change behavior. That is where the flow comes in. By building a flow (or what some products call a path, a pathway or a curriculum), we build solutions that meet the immediate need and allow learners to flow to the next step and the next step. This flow must be carefully curated and created in partnership with SMEs, learners and leaders.

The tenants of adult learning still apply, but it is not a sage on the stage delivering 2 days of overwhelming content. It is just in time and it drives curiosity to propel the learner down that path.

Adapting L&D

What are the skills L&D needs to adapt? Adult learning theory, needs analysis, mixing experience/relationships/content, curation, marketing and listening. Project Management, long the foundation for learning programs does not go away, but it adapts to pulling disparate pieces into a flow. L&D’s new role has been described as curators. I think it goes past that task.

Instructional curation is a new realm. It blends Instructional Design with today’s short attention span, links, mentoring and coaching. It relies on a voracious appetite for external assets and knowing how to piece them into a comprehensive flow. And it is open. Open to learners, to SMEs and to leaders to help build the flow.

Flipping Learning

Where does L&D start? You have all seen slides with long list of websites and subscriptions for content. Some are specific to an industry or a discipline, some build on soft skills and others started in colleges. Get to know the ones that are available for your area of focus. What does, for example, bring to the table? How do you fit in an HBR subscription?

Review known and new sources of content like TED talks, GetAbstract, HBR, Investopedia and more. Investigate the different technologies that allow you to curate and present this content, like Degreed, Pathgather, Grovo, Edcast and more.

Then comes marketing – build it, sample it, prototype and deliver.

Flipping learning done well and marketed correctly will drive learners to the portal and allow them to control their flows. L&D will guide them but the real transformation starts with engaging them to go to the flows that you have started. Build, communicate, partner and listen; then they will come.

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