Instructional Design Basics


Flipped Learning is like McDonalds


A popular branding technique is to rename something or say that it is new and improved and I wonder if that’s what's happening with Blended Learning.  Here I am wondering if Flipped Learning is the new and improved brand for Blended Learning.

Are they the same thing or does Flipped Learning offer something different?

Fast Food Content

In essence each appears to be the same thing; in each, content is divided up between classroom and elearning activities.  Typically the more complex content and the application activities are reserved for the classroom while the scaffolding and Tell/Show content tends to get passed on to the online treatments.

The difference I am seeing with Flipped and Blended activities is in their format choices. Here Flipped Learning activities center on video streaming and talking heads.  With Flipped Learning stand-up instructors are taking cameras and shooting themselves doing their normal lecture activities.

This format is good as it allows for quick and easy content production. And this means that the online content is:

  • Relevant to student needs and abilities;
  • Relevant to emerging trends and topics; and
  • Continuous and ongoing.

This format does have some limitations though as video is passive and linear. In addition just because something is online doesn’t mean that students will like or internalize the content.  In this regard, a boring lecture is just as painful online as it is in a classroom.  And a challenge with Flipped Learning relates to this—here the ease of production and lack of formality may increase the likelihood of bad content being created.

Three Course Meals

Blended Learning has an advantage in this regard as it has additional options when it comes to content.  Typically with Blended approaches, the course objectives are used to drive the content strategies.   So if a course objective is on a procedure, then your students may have the following pieces of online content:

  • Text description of why the procedure was needed
  • Video of the procedure being performed
  • Interactive graphic walking the user through parts of the procedure
  • Simulation of the procedure and
  • Job-aid on the procedure.

Such a treatment would cover the procedure in a deeper way than a talking head. In addition, it may impact your classroom activities in a greater way— you may be able to move on to newer content faster or reach a higher level of learning within the content.

These benefits come at a cost though as extra development and testing time is needed with Blended approaches. As such, this may mean that your content isn’t as relevant to your students—Blended content will not be as immediate or continuous.

Finding the Right Meal

These differences present two unique cases for Flipped and Blended Learning. Here if you need quick and fast online content to support your classroom activities than Flipped content is a good choice for you.  If however; you want your online content to expand or supplement your classroom activities than a Blended approach may make more sense.