flip-new-blue-line-001Adult learners have a lot going on. They learn when they have a problem to solve or need to make something work better. Balancing work, family, and community, adults are practical when it comes to learning. The challenge for those of us teaching adults is how to be practical in return.

Learning happens when a lesson meets practice. Typically, a teacher teaches a lesson and students practice that lesson at home– or when they return to work in the case of most adults. “Flip” refers to the practice of flipping when the lesson and practice happen. The concept first became known with Khan Academy, where kids learn a lesson at home by watching a video and then apply that lesson in school where the teacher can help them.

Flipping takes away the classroom walls. It allows us to multi-task across the three places where people learn: in classrooms, in peer groups, and on their own. It challenges traditional assumptions about how we learn, that we learn content from a teacher in a classroom, take that content and apply it to our work when we leave that classroom, and always learn better together with others. Imagine is we thought in terms of learning together, learning at our desk, and learning alone. When we decouple the what, who, and how of a lesson, we can reach more people in deeper ways.

Let’s define the what, who, and how of a lesson:

What Who How
Content: Knowledge, information, ideas

Practice: Application of that knowledge, discussion of ideas

Teacher: Expert delivering content, guiding practice

Student: Learner, participant

Individual: Self-guided study, learning on your own

Group: Peer network, work related group (i.e. staff or board)

Classroom: Spaces where teacher delivers content to students

Or in picture form:


So this is what these pieces look like in classes and webinars:


Let’s keep mixing and matching the elements of learning to what what else we can create.


Because webinars don’t offer a scenario in which practice can readily happen, we try to organize follow up activities– like discussions in a peer network situation– to give space for people to apply what they learned to their own situations.

Adult learners have a lot going on. We reach more adults where they are if we can offer them a rich menu of ala carte learning.

How can I deliver content differently to reach more people and deepen how these people bring the content into the life of their organization?


“The Ultimate Grant Proposal Blueprint Series” developed by Maryn Boess of Grants Magic.

Claxon University developed by Erica Mills of Claxon Marketing.

Nonprofit Conversations” developed by Washington Nonprofits. Conversation guides tied to accompanying videos to support local conversations on nonprofit topics that matter.


“Flipped Learning” defined


 Flip Handout
Click here or the image above for the Flip worksheet.

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