Adult Ed Adopting Flipped Classrooms

Connexeo - 04/16/2018

The “flipped classroom” concept – in which basic information is consumed online with class time devoted to related discussion and projects – has been moving from the K-12 realm to adult education and training.

The goal of the flipped classroom is to foster more productive learning opportunities during live group sessions, according to an article from The most common model, a study from Educase found, has students watch 5- to 7-minute video lectures online, then gather in class to “create, collaborate and put into practice what they learn from the lectures they view outside class.”

The flipped classroom can work to the advantage of the individual student. When the lecture takes place in the classroom, the students are so busy taking notes that they sometimes miss salient points. By watching the lecture online, on their time, they can pause and rewind to catch all the details..

Of course, the disadvantages to watching the lecture at home is the lack of ability to question the lecturer in real time. It also means the instructors must condense their lectures from 45-minute, in-person, interactive formats to more bite-sized straight-on delivery.

On the other hand, those questions can be answered during class-time projects, or what used to be called “homework.” In class, students can apply what they learned in the lectures, through collaborative projects supervised by the instructor, who is there to guide, assist and correct. It’s at this stage that the instructor can detect errors in thinking among one or more students, and work to correct them.

The flipped classroom has proven in the K-12 setting to improve educational efficiency. An infographic from Knewton showed that the flipped-classroom format in a study at Clintondale High School near Detroit reduced the freshman English failure rate from 50% to 19% and the freshman mathematics failure rate from 44% to 13%. The number of disciplinary cases fell from 736 one semester to 249 in the corresponding semester the following year.

Adult education and corporate training courses, of course, do not face the same obstacles that public schools do. The students are there voluntarily, are eager to learn and are older and, therefore, more mature.

Thus, adult learners are more apt to successfully engage in meaningful activities without the teacher being central, which is one of the tenets of the flipped classroom. The educator’s role is to:

  • Prioritize concepts that learners access themselves.
  • Find the relevant content.
  • Be available to students individually, in small groups and as a class for real-time feedback.
  • Assess students during class time by observing them and recording data to help determine further instruction.

The flipped classroom, Educase found, alters the instructor’s role from that of head-of-the-class authoritarian to head collaborator and adviser. The students, meanwhile, are transformed from passive participants who are served instruction on a silver platter to active learners who reach out and grab the information.

Of course, the student must want to go out and grab it. An adult student who just tolerates sitting through a lecture and score the lowest grade necessary to meet that continuing education requirement will not react positively to a flipped course.

On the other hand, the fun couple who is taking a course to learn something exciting and meet new people will love the flipped classroom. They can watch the instructional video in the midst of their latest Netflix binge-watch, and cement the information in class, working on a cool project in collaboration with their new friends.

The Flipped Learning Network states that instructors should expect that class time will be “somewhat chaotic and noisy,” so it might not hold up well in early grades. But, according to a recent blog on the network’s site, there are several questions instructors can ask to avoid adult ed flipping FLOPs:

  • Did I unwittingly create a Frigid learning culture instead of a welcoming learning environment?
  • Was I too Leaden and rigid in my approach and not flexible enough?
  • Did I have Obsolete content that was not seen as relevant by my students?
  • Did I appear ill-prepared and Probationary to my students – not yet a professional?

Flipping is a trend that has started to be adopted in adult education and will likely continue to grow. 


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