Trends in Learning and Development: Upside-Down Learning


Dr. Laura Hume – Director, Learning and Development: One of the innovations that is more leading edge for corporate America is upside-down learning.

Public schools have been using this since about half a decade ago with the introduction of the Kahn Academy, and then Bill Gates got into the act and it’s become quite a well-funded, well respected exemplar of upside down learning for public education.

So what happens here is, students go to the online site (Kahn is one, they have many others) and they learn the concept at home. So my son who’s in the fifth grade, he’ll have an assignment, he’ll be at home, he’ll learn the concept, there are lots of practice examples and then he gets graded, he gets badged, he knows how well he’s done, he knows what the next concept is. On the back end the teacher is getting reports from every student and understands what concepts the student’s learning, how long it took them to learn it, where they got stuck. And when they come to school the next day, she is able to group them appropriately and then work with the groups exactly where they are.

She’s not teaching to the middle. The students who already know the concept aren’t bored, the students who were struggling aren’t totally lost and it is a very efficient way of getting the knowledge component out the way and work on the skill-building component while you have the expert there with you.

It’s a great opportunity for corporate America. So why aren’t we using it? There are some barriers. One of the barriers is there’s a perception that at-home learning is going to be considered as pre-work and they already know their population is compliant with pre-work. So from a cultural perspective, it’s seen as problematic to introduce that. There’s also a pretty high setup fee. You have to have good online learning that’s appropriate for your corporate America context and that’s expensive to develop.

Pros: it’s good for large populations and will allow you to have much reduced delivery times by targeting what’s taught in the classroom to those skill-building practice components.
So different businesses can really put that into place and maximize the use of experts they have on site, to be able to answer key questions, Q/A and see their participants actually build skills in the classroom instead of sitting through plenary sessions just to get that knowledge base up.

Kenny Simon – Client Director: I hope you don’t expect us all to sound as fluent as Laura.

Dr. Laura Hume – Director, Learning and Development: This is my next career, man.