Chunked learning is the most important trend in the field of learning today. And not just corporate learning. You need only look at the success of the Khan Academy to see that it’s happening everywhere. Salmon Khan, of course, is the fellow who back in 2006 started posting short math tutorials on YouTube.
Khan’s modules – his Website calls them “digestible chunks” – became wildly popular. He appeared on 60 Minutes in 2012, got backing from Bill Gates and Google, and may end up turning the education field completely on its head.
Khan became a success for many reasons. His modules are short, which appeals to young, distracted kids with short attention spans. They’re online, which is perfect for the digital natives who fell in love with them. And they’re very good because Khan is a gifted teacher.
But I believe Khan’s enduring contribution will be his concept of the “flipped classroom,” where students do classwork at home and do homework at school.
In the old model, learning content was delivered by a teacher in the classroom. In the “flipped classroom,” it’s delivered by an e-learning module at home.
In the old model the student did homework alone at home, or maybe with some help from mom and dad. Now, the student does homework in class aided by a teacher who has an online dashboard and can see how each student is doing in real time. When teachers see a student struggling with a problem, they create a coaching event, intervening in that precise moment of need.
There are key similarities between the flipped classroom model and the ”flipped training” model that we’re proposing in the workplace. Most notable are:
1) Viewing learning as a process, not an event. The very language used to describe Khan’s innovation, the “flipped classroom,” highlights a distinction most managers and C-level executives don’t make – the fact that learning requires not just a training event but a follow-up coaching process as well, and
2) Vastly increasing the importance of the coaching role. In the flipped classroom the “homework” – that is, the classroom coaching session – takes several times longer than the actual learning event. That’s exactly what needs to happen in the workplace.
This concept, “flipped training,” changes everything. Imagine a workplace where managers aren’t even called managers. They’re called coaches.
Imagine a workplace where learning is delivered in short bursts – because that’s the way adult learners, particularly Millennials, want to learn.
Imagine “coaches” spending far less time in “training events” and far more time in “follow-up events” – that is, in high-payoff coaching interventions that make training stick and achieve a high ROI.
Imagine managers getting really good at training and developing people, a task that most embrace reluctantly today and perform poorly.
Imagine transforming your workplace into a learning organization, where people are more productive, more engaged, more responsive to customers, and more likely to stay.
That’s the potential payoff of flipped training.
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