What is Flipped Training?

Matt Pierce, training manager at TechSmith Corporation, tells iHubbub that the issue of retention in training is a difficult one to solve.

Ensuring information delivered during a training session is effectively retained by employees is a crucial element in providing efficient and cost-effective training. Matt Pierce - Techsmith

The more information a trainee retains, the more useful a training programme is to them and your business. It is therefore essential training or learning content is designed to be as easy to understand, retain and recall as possible.  

There’s always the argument that investing in your employees is crucial to ensure they are able to do the best job possible and, ultimately, improve the business’ efficiency. From our perspective, there are a few activities, such as ‘flipping’, that can reinvigorate established training processes without sacrificing effectiveness or efficiency. The biggest trend right now is keeping training quality at a consistently high level, even with reduced training resources and budgets.

In ‘traditional’ training models, trainees are required to complete a series of tasks to determine and measure what they have learnt following an instructor-led training session. This kind of training programme would be a series of ‘how to’ style sessions, with the trainer demonstrating the resource’s functions.

With the flipped model, the process is reversed. Learning materials are provided in advance of the session for trainees to review. Materials can be provided a week in advance, for example, giving trainees time to review them and come to the session with questions on the content. Before trainees even step foot in a training session, the theoretical knowledge required for the training has already been provided. This allows trainees to familiarise themselves with a new resource, topics or content ready to apply their knowledge through group or individual exercises under the ‘supervision’ of the trainer.

 Benefits of flipping

By developing and providing learning materials in advance, the consistency of training content, and delivery of it, is significantly improved. For example, at TechSmith we ensure interviews of prospective candidates for a position are conducted in a consistent way. By providing the same training content to everyone, interviews are conducted according to our guidelines. Interview content can be accessed on-demand by our employees, so even if six months passes between interviews, they remain consistent. 

The ability to provide ‘chunked’ content is also beneficial. Chunking refers to splitting learning content into short, easy to digest sections. Creating chunked materials provides a linear process for the training to follow, ensuring that a trainer keeps to the training schedule without getting fatigued – even when conducting the same training session multiple times.

By providing learning materials and content in advance, the trainees are already well prepared for the training prior to the session. If the content is divided into short, easy to review sections, trainees can view it in short sections, following the ‘chunking’ approach. This aids in retention, as trainees are not required to absorb a lot of information in a short period of time.

The interaction in the flipping model also provides a trainer with useful feedback on the effectiveness of learning content, and the ability to determine how much information trainees have actually learnt. This is a concept known as ‘mastery’. During the flipped session a trainer can get a feel for how well the learning content has prepared trainees for the tasks required of them, and update and amend content based on this experience as required. This approach, combined with chunked content, ensures trainees are more likely to ‘master’ the content.

Interactive sessions also ensure each time a training programme is delivered, it is tailored to the audience receiving it. Any questions that arise can be resolved immediately by the trainer, meaning trainees get instant feedback and gratification. This hands-on approach is far more engaging for trainees than, for example, delivering a two hour PowerPoint presentation followed by a Q&A session. 

Trainees are also able to plan their training time better. By providing the learning content in advance, trainees can pick and choose a time to review it that suits them, instead of sticking to a regimented training schedule.

Showing ROI

The best measure of the effectiveness of flipped training is to determine if trainees are able to complete the assigned tasks independently of the trainer during a flipped session, following the mastery concept.

For an organisation looking at strict ROI figures, the potential reduction in employee time required to complete training is the most quantifiable. Providing learning content in advance reduces the amount of time required to complete training.

An eight hour training session may include four hours of formal instruction and four hours of practical exercises. Providing learning content upfront means trainers are required to spend half the original time in an actual training session. Although some time saved will be taken up by reviewing the flipped content, this can be completed around employees’ other priorities, reducing the impact on their day-to-day activities.


Matt Pierce is training manager at TechSmith Corporation. For more information please visit www.techsmith.com.