You have probably heard about The Flipped Classroom where the traditional classroom model has been flipped on its head, so that students watch videos as homework and then apply the concepts in the classroom. If you haven’t, Dan Pink explains it in his piece in The Telegraph, Flip Thinking – the new buzz word sweeping the US:
“During class time, the teacher will stand at the front of the room and hold forth on the day’s topic. Then, as the period ends, he or she will give students a clutch of work to do at home. Lectures in the day, homework at night. It was ever thus and ever shall be.”
However, instead of lecturing about polynomials and exponents during class time – and then giving his young charges 30 problems to work on at home – Karl Fisch has flipped the sequence. He’s recorded his lectures on video and uploaded them to YouTube for his 28 students to watch at home. Then, in class, he works with students as they solve problems and experiment with the concepts. Lectures at night, “homework” during the day.”
Anyway, when I was recently discussing an upcoming webinar I have been invited to do for my friends Sibrenne and Joitske in the Netherlands at faciliteeronline.nl, I thought it might be a good idea to try the same with the traditional webinar model, and flip that. In other words instead of me presenting for most of the time, trying to find some rather contrived ways to interact with the audience via my slides, and then only spend a short time answering questions which the participants have had to think up on the spot – we should do the opposite.
It seems to me we often waste the opportunity of bringing people together by lecturing/presenting at them, rather than using the time more for discussion and collaboration or even experimentation and problem solving. As it is, when I am participating in webinars myself, I often find most of the interesting stuff happens in the conversations taking place in the chat! And I’ve not yet participated in any webinar that has made use of breakout sessions for collaborative activities.
I am sure there are some who will say that THIS is how webinar tools are meant to be used – particularly for training and educational webinars, but I think many people still see them as presentational tools rather than as SOCIAL tools. (I know I always assume that a webinar is going to be someone presenting a topic.). Others will point out that with large audiences, the logistics of organising more interactivity and social elements are limited. And yet others will, I am sure, argue that a charismatic lecturer or presenter is very powerful, and that webinars provide a fantastic opportunity to hear someone talk about a subject they are passionate about, and that this should be the focus of the session.
So there is clearly a time and place for using the traditional presentation model, but I thought it would be a good idea to try and explore the flipped model – in order to provide a more social webinar. In other words to start with the premise that there would be no (or very little) formal presentation and that the focus will be on social and collaborative activities.
Therefore, for the purposes of my webinar for my Dutch colleagues, I have written a blog post about the webinar, in which I have provided the participants with a link to an article I have written and asked them to submit questions (in the comments on the blog post) in advance of the webinar. This will give them time to read and reflect on it and come up with some considered questions before the webinar itself. We can then use the questions that we have received to plan the structure and format of the webinar. It’ll undoubtedly include some very short presentational elements from me – perhaps one or two slides here and there – to support my answers to the questions, but there will be time for a fair amount of discussion, and hopefully some collaborative activities if the webinar software can support this. There will also be an opportunity to review the flipped/social webinar model to find out if this is what the participants like/want/find useful, etc. It will be interesting, by the way, to see if a reading is as good a replacement for the presentation as a video.
Now, I am sure I am not the only one who has used this approach in a webinar, so I would be very interested in hearing your own experiences, if you have done something different from just providing a traditional presentation. How have you flipped the webinar model?
UPDATE: Here’s a review of the webinar by Simon at facilitieren.nl – Social media are moving organisations from a hierarchical into a wirearchical approach -