Hull College group recently completed a project centred on flipped learning and the potential benefits gained from applying it to vocational education. Here's what they had to say about it.

CASE STUDY OVERVIEW

This case study examines the application of a flipped learning model to vocational further education as part of our Learning Futures ‘Improving Success by Flipping the Learning’ project. The project had four subject-based strands in Construction, Engineering, Hair, Beauty & Catering and Higher education and we tested a different flipped learning technology in each. We wanted to assess the impact of this approach on staff as well as on student satisfaction and achievement.

WHO COULD BENEFIT FROM THIS CASE STUDY?

This case study is essential for:

  • people wanting to find out how the application of a flipped learning approach can benefit vocational learning
  • managers wanting evidence of the impact of a flipped learning model in supporting student learning
  • teachers wanting to know how a flipped learning approach can support differentiation and maximise the use of workshop time.

WHAT WE SET OUT TO DO AND WHY

We wished to test the efficiency of flipped learning for vocational learners, and felt this was particularly important following the FELTAG recommendations. We were aware that many of our students come from relatively deprived backgrounds and may have poor literacy and wanted to identify any barriers they may experience in undertaking independent study as part of a flipped learning model. This project gave us an opportunity to evaluate our experiences of flipped learning more thoroughly by identifying its potential within particular curriculum areas and using this to model the benefits that such an approach can have on student engagement and achievement.

VLE WEEK

In March 2015, over 400 students in our Hair, Beauty & Catering School took part in ‘VLe Week’. The idea for this week came from one of our project leads who had attended a session at a JISC conference delivered by Leeds City College who had tried a similar approach on one day for some courses. The planning took six months and included regular hands-on training sessions on producing materials using Xerte and access to one to one support from the eLearning team. Some of these resources were developed in partnership with JISC. During this week each member of staff delivered one of their usual weekly sessions online. Students were able to complete the online activities from home or come to the library.

EVIDENCE OF IMPACT

Student response to a flipped learning approach has been positive: two thirds of the students involved in our project have used resources outside the classroom, 88 per cent of these found the resources useful and 91 per cent enjoyed using them. You can also read the full student feedback on the Construction revision apps.

Around 97 per cent of students participated in our VLe week, showing high levels of engagement, with Moodle usage increasing by 62 per cent in hairdressing and 45 per cent in catering. 

We were able to create a good level of staff engagement in some areas where we had strong support from the Heads of Department who arranged compulsory staff training, attended the training themselves and checked on staff progress. For example, we trained 20 staff in Hair, beauty and catering and nine staff in Health and social care on technologies they had never tried before. This resulted in an increased understanding of instructional design and improved technical skills as well as strong partnerships between teaching staff and technical staff.

VLE WEEK

We had 20 staff across Hair, beauty & catering developed a range of materials for our VLe week, many of them using Xerte, and 402 students completed part of their course online during this week. Usage of the 'VLe' went up substantially in that week but also in the following weeks, and the percentage increase was highest in Hairdressing (62 per cent) and Catering (45 per cent) where usage levels had been lower than in Beauty therapy before the project.

See our blog for more detailed information about the impact of our Hair, beauty & catering VLe week and hear our staff commenting on the benefits of using video in a flipped approach.

LESSONS LEARNED

Despite some initial reservations from staff about job security and workloads, the project has shown that many of our staff can see how a flipped learning model can enhance their delivery, particularly when delivering the more theoretical elements of the course and when supporting students in preparing for a practical task or revising for an assessment. The students involved in flipped learning through our project showed a high level of engagement and achievement although we will need to continue to monitor this as we start to use the approach on a wider scale to make sure this was not just due to the novelty of the delivery method. 

FUTURE PLANS

Next year we will look at longer term pilots of more formalised flipped learning as well as continuing to look at the provision of resources that can be used by students independently to support their classroom learning. We hope to look at providing better access to laptops and tablets for students and to continue to train and coach our staff to improve their knowledge of and confidence in using a flipped approach effectively. The Head of School for Hair, Beauty & Catering was very impressed by the impact of our flipped learning pilot this year and talks here about her ambitious plans to increase use of this style of delivery.

TOP TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL IMPLEMENTATION

In order to get the most of similar initiatives, we recommend that you:

  • pilot flipped learning on a small scale/short term basis to identify any barriers
  • maximise the benefits to students of flipped learning content by giving them choice of activities, effective support and signposting and ensuring that where possible they can complete these elements in a time and place that suits them
  • train staff in both producing effective and interesting flipped learning materials and in related skills such as understanding usage data and providing individual tutoring and support.

SUPPORTING RESOURCES

  1. Flipping learning in Hair, Beauty & Catering action research – this blog provides more detailed findings of the impact of our project in this area.
  2. Video of the Week archive – provides short videos showing how to use Xerte, Nearpod and Appsgeyser.

Hull College Group is a large general further education college, with sites in Hull, Harrogate and Goole. Their aim is to develop a culture where ‘eLearning’ is not considered as a separate priority but where the technology seamlessly supports the ability of the tutor and allows the student to access a wide range of resources to support their learning at any time, on any device and in any place.