In our recent Association Learning + Technology report (which is available for free download) we reported that association adoption of trendy new learning approaches like massive open online courses (MOOCs), gamification, digital badges, and flipped learning has been relatively limited so far. Fewer than 10 percent of respondents indicated they have experimented with these formats.
Given the relatively slow pace at which organizations have embraced new learning technologies historically, I’m not expecting to see a stampede to any of them in 2014. Nonetheless, there are two of them that I think make particular sense for associations and that forward-thinking organizations should embrace sooner rather than later.
One of these, digital badges, I will write about it a later post.
The other, flipped learning, is the subject of this post.
Defining Flipped Learning
In case you are a little fuzzy on the concept, “flipped” learning, here’s the high level definition we offer in the Association Learning + Technology report:
Flipped learning involves offering preparatory or foundational content (often as Web- based video) outside of the classroom and then using class time for more active learning. It “flips” the traditional approach of using class time for lecture and non-class time for hands-on work related to the lecture. Khan Academy (https:// www.khanacademy.org), more than any other organization, has put flipped learning on the map.
“Class time” might mean a seminar, a conference session, or even a Webinar, and “hands-on” might mean problem-solving activities, case studies, or facilitated discussion, among other possibilities.
Flipped content can come from a variety of sources, including video captured from conferences, clips from Webinar recordings, brief audio or video interviews with subject matter experts, screen recordings, and the variety of publications that most organizations already produce.
The Flipping Trifecta
Flipping has potential across the educational spectrum – from K-12 on up – but I see it as particularly powerful for organizations in the business of adult continuing education and professional development because it can address – often simultaneously – three critical areas:
Chunks of educational content are a natural for effective content marketing – a practice that is essential for organizations that need to attract prospective learners, demonstrate value, and maintain an edge in increasingly competitive markets.
The most successful internet marketers have known for years that giving away foundational content is one of the most effective ways to lead customers toward higher value content for which they charge a premium. (This one idea, for example, lies at the heart of “Product Launch Formula,” a perennially popular and lucrative training product from Internet Marketing guru Jeff Walker.)
Another way to put it is that “flipped” content can help you fill the upper end of your Accelerant Curve more strategically and create the pull towards the lower part of the curve.
But flipped content does not have to be free content. It can be bundled in with an existing product like an seminar or conference to help elevate the value – and price – of that offering. In this case, you provide access to it only once a learner has registered and paid.
Arguably, flipped content can also be a product in and of itself. I have written before, for example, about selling short video content in a subscription model. This can easily be content that relates to existing seminars, conference sessions, or Webinars, but that is positioned and sold as a freestanding product. (If you are interested, I write a good bit more about “flipped” as a business model in Leading the Learning Revolution.)
Last, and certainly not least, it has the potential to be incredibly effective as a learning model. Indeed, the learning value that flipping can create is what makes it so effective as both a marketing tool and potential business model.
Among other benefits, flipping can help to even out differences in prior knowledge among seminar and session attendees, making it possible to raise the instructional bar and deliver more educational value. (Variable prior knowledge of attendees is a perennial issue in conference session learning, in particular.)
Flipping can also help support distributed, spaced learning by allowing for exposure to and absorption of content over time rather than in the single shot of the typical learning event. Learning in this way greatly increases recall – meaning the long-term impact of your educational offerings is greater. (I’d go so far as to argue flipping may be the salvation of traditional event-based learning, which has always been quite limited in what it can realistically achieve.)
I’ll dig deeper on other learning benefits and the related research in future posts, but those two alone are enough to make flipped learning merit serious consideration.
All Hands on Deck
All of the benefits above add up to creating a great deal of value for members and customers while also generating significant returns for the organization. In other words, this is far from just “an education thing.”
Even more so than was the case with the first and second waves of “e-learning,” CEOs and EDs need to wake up and step up to the potential. The 3Ms (Marketing, Membership, and Meetings) need to be fully on board, and Technology needs to support getting the right infrastructure in place tout suite. In general, silos need to come down to fully realize the opportunity presented by flipped learning.
So what are your thoughts about flipped learning and/or your plans for the coming year? Please comment and share.
P.S. – Update 03/05/14 – Heres a useful article on flipped learning from ASTD that I just came across: Flipped Learning: Maximizing Face Time.
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