Flipping to Learn

What is a Flipped class?

One of my most enduring “aha’ moments in learning was when I was 11 years old, in a physics class. I was trying to manipulate a prism so that the rainbow formed on a whiteboard. My teacher came to me, turned it so that I held it properly, and then, the colors exploded. He asked me to identify the colors and I did, confidently and happily. I don’t remember his 30 minute lecture before that moment, which is what made me identify the colors, but that particular moment of colors, I do. What if teaching could be full of such “aha” moments, which are remembered decades later?

That is possible in a Flipped Class. This is an instructional movement started by Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams that is changing the educational landscape of US.

The most simplistic definition of a flipped class is “Learn at home through videos and podcasts, do your homework in school with the teacher and peers”

The flipped class model combines asynchronous learning with synchronous activities to enable greater engagement between the tutor and the learner, while giving the learner control over the learning at his own pace  and time. The classroom becomes an area of exploration and hands on activities, where traditional “homework” is a shared activity, with expert help from the teacher. The teacher here becomes the coach, or the enabler from the side, instead of taking the center stage.


 Advantages in classroom (synchronous) activities:

  • Enabling face-to-face and individual engagement of the teacher with each learner.
  • Placing the learning in context to real life through constructivist learning.
  • Ensuring expert advice at the right time, with practical help and tips.
  • Getting adequate time to go beyond the basic teaching/learning to explore and experiment with concepts.
  • Achieving satisfaction and confidence in learning through output oriented classroom activities.
  • Ensuring that learning objectives are achieved.

Advantages in non-classroom (asynchronous) learning:

  • Learning is controlled by the learner: The learner decides the learning time and frequency.
  • Learner takes responsibility for learning at his pace, in his time, and per his understanding. The learner can speed up, slow down, and repeat without holding up the whole class.
  • Learner selects the best learning mode for his learning. He selects from video, interactive sessions, or books and documents to gain knowledge.
  • Learning is focused towards achieving goals that are measurable in the classroom setting, where additional help is available, removing anxiety.
  • Unmotivated learners are filtered out.

The Four Pillars of FLIP:

  • Flexible environment
  • Learning culture
  • Intentional content
  • Professional educator

The Flipped Class model in Corporate Training

The Flipped Class model of instruction is creating a giant wave in the traditional schoolroom teaching and has become one of the most important trends since 2009. Its adaptation to corporate training, given the audience and the resources, would make a remarkable impact on achieving training goals, costs, resources and effectiveness.

Why flipping works in corporate training:

  • The corporate audience already has a highly motivated, adult learner, with ability to absorb learning independently.
  • Classroom activities are result- and output-oriented, reinforcing confidence in the learner to carry out the operations independently.
  • The time of the instructors/experts is opened up for providing invaluable, just-in-time help during the performance stage.
  • Certifications/Feedback are instant and teachers are available for queries on the results.
  • Cost control and cost reduction are possible with the frequency and period of a classroom training spiraling down.
  • More trainings can be conducted in the same time, with greater effectiveness.
  • Training of new technologies and prepping fresh employees into new projects.
  • Rolling out system changes and HR changes.
  • For client visits, so that the visit time can be opened up for targeted questions, networking, negotiating, and so on.
  • Conferences: A video or a flash file along with the invite ensures an interested and motivated audience. The undecided audience will also have a fair idea about the concept.
  • Continued education and refresher courses, where the learners can see the video and then decide if they are interested enough to take it further.

Where it can be used:

The Nays have this:

Despite the euphoria that surrounds flipped learning, several educators, including the inventors of this system Jonathan and Aaron, caution against “one size fits all” approach for flipped learning. For this system to work, the training has to be highly contextual, and contoured to the audience. The classroom trainings/sessions are more important than traditional classrooms. The Flipped Classroom requires highly skilled and motivated teachers who can take learners to the next level.

There are several models, systems and ways in which the Flipped Classroom is implemented. Debates continue on the use of off-the-shelf material (e-learning) for off-classroom training versus personalized videos from the teacher.

There is also fear that the role of the teacher may become obsolete and the “coaching” will be done by a less skilled assistant, which enables schools to save on teacher’s salaries.

It is a system, and will work as well as the implementers want it to work.

History and Links:

Flip your Classroom is a non-profit organization started by Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams, both educators. Both have won several awards for excellence in teaching from the Colorado State. The aim is to reach every student, in every classroom, every day. It has even caught the attention of Bill Gates, who thinks it is the best way to teach Math in the US.






About the author: Chandrika Inturi is a Senior e-learning Architect at Infosys. She has about 12 years of experience in Instructional Design (ID). She had been a Journalist since 13 years before she took up the role of an ID.  She is a science fiction addict, of both books and movies. The Dune books are top of the favorites’ list, closely followed by Ender’s Game, Fight Club, Game of Thrones, and House of Cards.

You can contact her at: Cinturi06@gmail.com

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