People are starting to ask, “Barbi, what is this ‘flip’ idea you keep talking about?  What does it mean?”  Well, there are lots of ways to answer that question.  Flipping can mean many different things depending on the context.  Over the next few blog posts, I plan to compare flipped environments to other types of traditional environments so we can begin to expand on just how you can implement flipped strategies in a variety of ways.  Why don’t we start with a quick snapshot comparing The Lecture vs. The Flip:

Now, I’m not here to bash lecturing. Lecturing – when done well – can be very effective for meeting learning outcomes, engaging audiences, and delivering content.  But, most of the time, a lecture is focused on the speaker.  What is the speaker saying? What examples does the speaker use?  How well is the speaker explaining the information?  How has the speaker organized the information?  Lecturing focuses on the speaker.  Flipping is focused on the participants.  What are the participants doing?  What examples do the participants share?  How well are the participants able to explain the information?  How are the participants organizing the information?

Why does this matter?  Because flipping is about more than videos. It’s about  more than simply recording a lecture or speech and asking your participants to watch it to prepare for discussions later. It’s about creating dynamic, engaging, and interactive environments where people are engaged in higher level thinking skills, not just listening.

The benefits of flipping from an instructor-centered design to participant-centered design have been researched extensively. The findings continue to illustrate how participant-centered learning builds critical thinking skills, enhances motivation, increases engagement and maximizes productivity.  When participants are invested in their learning, are motivated to succeed, and are engaged in the process, the idea of  learning something new takes on a whole new meaning.

Try flipping one small part of a meeting, a training session, or a class.  Flip your own thinking and focus on what the participants need to do to achieve the goals you have set.  Do they need to write?  Read?  Watch a video?   Talk to each other?  Build something?  Draw something?  Map something?  Keep asking yourself, “What do my participants need to DO?”  Then design your environment to allow time and space for participants to actually do it.

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Dr. Barbi Honeycutt is the Founder of FLIP It Consulting in Raleigh, NC. She facilitates workshops, designs resources, and develops professional development programs to teach educators, trainers and instructors how to create engaging participant-centered learning environments using the FLIP. The FLIP means to “Focus on your Learners by Involving them in the Process.”