As the way of working in a digital economy changes, so too do learning approaches to meet the needs and demands of those who need flexible, collaborative and digital solutions. As teaching and learning techniques continue to evolve, the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the innovation and adoption of learner-centered online approaches.
Companies have discovered that through creative online approaches, they can offer highly effective and scalable training solutions for both CXOs and entry-level executives. These educational trends are far-reaching and will continue to do so.
The upside down classroom
One such solution that is gaining momentum is the “flipped classroom”. This converts to a more traditional model in which the learner is a passive recipient of a teacher’s lecture and then independently applies that knowledge in their homework and assignments to solidify their learning.
Dealing with a topic at a deeper level (evaluating, analyzing, etc.) is more difficult for the learner, but this is the part that the traditional model expects the learner to work alone at home without guidance from the teacher.
In a flipped classroom approach, the learner activates their knowledge in their own time, usually through online materials such as activities, videos and texts; and in class, working with the teacher and classmates to apply the newly acquired knowledge through practical examples, critical analysis and peer review, group work and feedback.
Teacher training project with flipped classroom
In 2018, a teacher training project with a flipped classroom approach was carried out for teachers in state schools across India.
Over 570 primary and secondary school teachers took a six-week online English course to improve their English skills. In their pre-class activities, participants learned communication skills through online video, audio, and text with interactive practice exercises.
In the classroom, the participants dealt with sensible, practical communication scenarios with the help of their trainer.
The participants rated the acquisition of new knowledge and skills with over 90 percent. In the self-assessments of the English language skills before and after the course, there was a jump of over 20 percent in just six weeks.
External reviewers on the project noted, âHaving such results in a BYOD technology model for a Global South user group with little or no familiarity with online learning is a real breakthrough. TOPDI may mark an important turning point in models for improving teacher competencies in emerging markets. “
Studies in the US, India, and beyond have shown that the flipped classroom can encourage student engagement and greater personal responsibility for learning. Further studies have shown improvements in performance and grades for students.
The parallels to the core competencies sought by employers to secure the future of their company are a significant increase in self-control, responsibility for one’s own development and the promotion of critical thinking skills.
Another approach to training that builds on these skills and adds important core skills for employability, collaboration and cultural fluency is peer-to-peer learning or peer-assisted learning. This approach encourages students to work through concepts and materials together.
This offers them the opportunity to learn from each other under the guidance of the teacher, to expand their knowledge and communication style, and to build meaningful connections.
Online learning offerings such as breakout rooms encourage safe spaces for students to negotiate and experiment with new concepts.
In an IELTS training program for nurses in 2021, a supported peer-assisted learning program (PALs), in which participants were given tasks to work together in weekly peer-only meetings, was integrated into an online intervention in the flipped classroom.
It was found that this course component improves learner engagement in live online courses and builds more engagement and motivation in the assigned purely independent learning tasks.
Interviews with participants highlighted the perceived value of collaborative skills building and self-management, as well as the usefulness of scaffolding in motivating independent learning and achieving better test scores.
That these results were achieved with learners who were medical professionals during the Covid-19 pandemic underscores the success of these online learning models.
For learning and development professionals, CXOs, and educators making decisions about workforce development, these models are a real boon as they offer better learning outcomes with greater scalability and cost efficiency.
Research shows that certain online blended learning courses offer more than four times the learning effort for the trainer and at the same time deliver a 95 percent improvement in communication and soft skills according to their own statements.
Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, the nature of the work had evolved. The value of a new set of core employability skills, from collaboration to self-management to digital and cultural fluency, has been further underscored by the new ways of working many have adopted in response to the pandemic.
It is time that educational approaches that develop such skills were central to building tomorrow’s workforce, and the flipped classroom and peer learning approach clearly has an important place in that structure.
– Article by Beth Caldwell, Head of Blended Learning and Shivangi Gupta, Assistant Director English, British Council India.
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