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Creating flipped training content


Matt Pierce discusses how crowdsourcing can aid in developing "flipped" training content and improve retention and training efficiency. 

The concept of flipped training is a relatively new model that acts as a natural progression of the formal model, and addresses some of the issues facing training professionals and learning and development practitioners.

Flipped training

In the simplest terms, flipping essentially reverses the traditional formal model by providing trainees with learning content in advance of a session, rather than during and after a session.

The concept focuses on providing trainees with theoretical content in advance of the training session, giving them a chance to review it in their own time and attend the training either fully up-to-speed on a given topic, or with a baseline level of knowledge and questions ready for the trainer.

By providing materials in advance, the training session itself can focus on practical applications. A series of follow-up tasks usually assigned following a training session can be completed during a session, guided by a training professional.

Developing flipped content

Although flipping provides a potentially higher level of retention and engagement with trainees, the development of the flipped content itself can be a challenge. The approach requires more robust, easy to understand content that trainees can review independently with minimal guidance from a training professional. While a trainer may have a significant amount of knowledge in their head, conveying it in an accessible way to trainees can be a time intensive process. Gathering information from individuals within a company can also present challenges.

"To effectively capture content that can be easily understood, video provides the most suitable medium for flipped content."

One method of creating flipped content is by implementing a crowdsourcing approach. Crowdsourcing is a process used by product development teams to problem solve and develop new ideas. Essentially, the process involves pooling individuals for specific opinions, knowledge and insight. The same principle can be applied to develop flipped content.

Within any organisation there will be several employees who hold knowledge that can benefit several or all of their co-workers. A sales director, for example, may be familiar with PowerPoint, having used it extensively to develop presentations in their everyday work. A finance manager will be more skilled with Excel, which is used regularly to keep track of finances. Longer standing members within the organisation will likely have acquired a vast amount of knowledge on specific systems or company practices that their less experienced colleagues are yet to acquire.

Crowdsourced content

Using the crowdsourcing principle, a training professional can survey an organisation’s workforce to identify individuals who possess useful knowledge. An incentive could even be offered to employees who volunteer to offer knowledge, such as prizes for the most useful contributions. Once identified, this knowledge can be captured in the form of learning content and presented to others within the organisation using the flipping model.

To effectively capture content that can be easily understood, video provides the most suitable medium for flipped content. Screencast software, which is sometimes referred to as screen recording, can be used to create a video of a computer screen. The individual creating the recording can also record a voiceover that explains what is happening on screen. This ensures the content can be easily understood by a viewer watching independently, and can also be paused or rewound as needed.

For example, a screencast video can be created to walk a viewer through more advanced uses of PowerPoint, based on the knowledge and experience from a sales director. This can then be provided to individuals who require training in advance of a trainer-led session, in short sections covering specific actions. During the session, a series of tasks that require information in the screencast recording can be completed by trainees. This is a very basic example, but the same concept can be applied within any organisation and for any programme or online resource. 

Benefits of flipped content

The ability to provide "chunked" content - learning content that is presented in short, easy to digest sections - allows trainees to absorb smaller amounts of information more effectively. This improves overall retention. 

Consistency is also improved. By developing a series of training materials a trainer can be certain each trainee receives the same learning experience, regardless of the session they participate in. Materials can also be made available on a permanent basis to employees, ensuring they have a reference should their knowledge need refreshing.

With a trainer present in a flipped session, any questions or issues can be addressed immediately. Trainees can complete all required tasks, demonstrating knowledge and avoiding the risk of getting confused when working without a trainer’s guidance.  

This hands-on approach ensures a greater level of engagement between trainees and training professionals. The session becomes an interactive one, with trainees working independently and consulting the trainer as required. This interaction allows the trainer to access how much each trainee has learnt, a concept known as "mastery". This is a significant benefit to flipping, as trainees are more likely to master an entire subject, rather than select elements.

In addition to the instant gratification of applying a new skill, the interactive nature of flipped training is far more engaging and motivating than a formal presentation.

Ensuring efficiency

When crowdsourcing to identify knowledgeable individuals, the training professional can ensure all learning materials are specifically aligned to training goals. It is therefore important to establish clear training objectives to measure against, and that the desired change in employees’ abilities is clear. The best measure of efficiency is to determine if trainees are able to complete the assigned tasks independently of the trainer during a flipped session, following the mastery concept.

Efficiency is also improved through time saved. Instead of spending two hours delivering a training presentation, a trainer can record a presentation in advance. The trainer essentially delivers learning content once, which can be re-used again and again as more employees are trained on a given topic.

Traditional measurement can also be applied to the flipping approach. Kirkpatrick’s Four-Levels Model, covering reaction, learning, behaviour and results, can be applied as they would be with formal learning.

Matt Pierce is training manager at TechSmith Corporation, specialising in aiding trainers in creating effective training materials. For more information please visit

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