When Faculty Are Students: Flipping Professional Development

When it comes to learning, faculty members can make tough students. Between research, teaching and mentorship, it’s not always easy to get PhDs to sign up just to learn about a new piece of university technology or the next campus initiative. And that challenge can be even greater for professional development and internal sessions on broader topics like campus leadership or communication skills.

While just managing schedules is difficult enough, of even greater concern is the learning experience — once everyone is finally on-board and in the same room together, how can you ensure that your faculty members are getting the most out of their time?

Engaged participants are strong learnersA new answer to this challenge may lie with the teachers themselves. University faculty have been ahead of most when it comes to simplifying the way information is delivered, and many of them already have put new tools to work to make learning easier on both themselves and their students. By flipping their classrooms, instructors have created learning environments that prioritize discussion and engagement–peer to peer, social learning–over lecture and passive notetaking.

And in doing so, they’ve also provided a new model anyone involved in faculty development should be paying close attention to.

Motivating busy people to learn

The flipped classroom accomplishes a more engaged classroom experience by giving scheduled class time over to discussion by providing basic information upfront via pre-recorded videos. This gives the learner an opportunity to review the information at their own pace, and repeat it as often as they deem necessary. Moving the lecture ahead of class time then frees the professor to engage more active learning strategies in the classroom, and allows students to connect more deeply and personally with the topic at hand.

The flipped classroom may have been designed for students, but its application has real value for any learning experience. And for a busy university professor, what could be better than the freedom to pursue learning content on their own schedule, then utilize scheduled PD sessions to consider and discuss what they’ve learned in greater depth?

Whether the pre-recorded lecture provides all of the development content or just a piece of it, following the flipped learning model can help faculty arrive to sessions primed and ready to discuss what they have learned. The flipped classroom frees more advanced learners from having to sit through a lecture which is, for them, repetitive, while simultaneously getting newer learners up-to-speed. In this way, everyone arrives at the in-person training on even footing.

Accountability ensures that everyone respects each other’s time

For those participants who might need an extra nudge to complete the pre-session work, the right video platform can help trainers establish accountability for their participants. Interactive elements like quizzes can help check for understanding, while a prompt to submit questions can help a trainer gauge which individuals are fully prepared for the in-person session and remind those who may be falling behind.

Having completed the preliminary materials ahead of time also offers participants the option to submit questions, comments and feedback, allowing the trainer to gauge the knowledge of the audience and to customize the in-person training.

With a firm understanding of the basics, and time to allow the ideas to marinate, the in-person segment of the professional development can be used to best effect. Knowing that everyone has viewed the preliminary content, trainers can speak to a broader audience without worrying about boring some learners while overwhelming others. They can respond to questions and optimize their presentation.

By moving the basics to the pre-session, trainers and participants alike ensure that everyone’s time is respected and that the training is as informative and relevant as possible.

An engaged student learns better — especially when they’re faculty

Once in the classroom, having flipped your session means in-person professional development time can be used in a variety of ways, from a deeper dive into the content all the way to small-group discussion and debate.

Highly engaged faculty members, having developed comfort with the content, can now dive into nuance, using one another to better learn. In turn, this peer-to-peer learning process increases comprehension and retention for everyone involved. Facilitators, meanwhile, can serve as guides to the content, prompting further discussions with more advanced questions, and offering clarifications for groups or individuals that may get stuck on a concept.

Building a campus culture with social learning

When participants engage with one another in a professional development session, you unlock your faculty’s collective brain power. Participants move from passive recipients of information to become active generators of new knowledge.

A quick presentation at the end of the day might hope to capture some of that energy and share it with the colleagues across campus. Here too, video can amplify the effect of this social learning strategy. With nothing more than the smartphone in their hand, small groups can record their thoughts on video and submit them to the group, or capture their key summaries and share them for others to review later.

Combining a trainer’s curatorial skill with a searchable video content management system, the best knowledge generated in your PD session can live on forever, shaping campus culture long after the day has passed.

They already do it. Now they expect it.

While a trainer in the corporate environment might expect to struggle with an audience that lacks experience in using a video content management system, in this area, academics are far ahead of their corporate counterparts. A quarter of all teachers now flip at least some element of their classrooms, and even those faculty that haven’t flipped have at least explored a MOOC or had one of their lectures recorded. In many cases, the same video platform used by professors to flip their classrooms and make lecture content available on-demand will be the same tool that you can use in flipping their learning experiences as well.

Born at Carnegie Mellon University and deployed across university campuses around the world, Panopto is already in the hands of millions of end users. It is an all-in-one platform that integrates lecture capture, video editing, and video content management on any Mac, PC, iOS or Android device.

If your university is already using Panopto for lecture capture, you’re already primed to flip your professional development. If you’re not using Panopto, contact a member of our team to request a demo or free trial for your university.

Published: March 24, 2015