More and more educators are taking the leap into offering their programs as elearning.

CC-BY image: bs-iv-folie-6-gruppenarbeit by algogenius -
CC-BY image: bs-iv-folie-6-gruppenarbeit by algogenius –

Elearning is “learning conducted via electronic media, typically through the internet” (Oxford Dictionaries).  There are many different kinds of eLearning. Michael Coghlan talks about nine models of elearning.  One of these models which is becoming quite popular is the ‘flipped classroom’.

The flipped classroom happens when face-to-face class time is used for the actual application of learning rather than the delivery of content. So, what was traditionally done for homework is now done in class, and vice versa. Online environments are then used to deliver the content via different means: text, slides, video, audio etc.

When speaking with educators about the ‘flipped classroom’ model, it becomes apparent that ‘flipped learning design’ is really a fancy name for ‘blended learning’.  That is, when face to face education and training is supported by online learning activities and resources.  So the term “flipped classroom” is just a catchy way of saying blended learning, an elearning model which has been around for a long time.

On the world wide web (aka the internet), catchy terms rules. Think MOOC.  If you haven’t heard of this acronym yet, MOOC means Massive Open Online Course.  Major universities and other consortia are going nuts over this elearning model. Check out this list of MOOCs:  MOOCs (well, MOOCx) are really just very large cohorts of learners doing e-training – that is, learners absorbing content and doing activities without any human facilitation or interaction.

This led me to think: if flipped = blended, and MOOC = etraining, then could online = gymnastics?  That is, could the term “gymnastics learning” be the next great way of describing when someone develops a course where all of the learning and assessment is done online, and involves interacting with others?   This makes perfect sense when you consider that gymnastics involves “the performance of exercises requiring flexibility, balance and control”?

Here’s my thinking:

OpenClipartVectors -
CC0 Public Domain image: OpenClipartVectors –

Delivery requires a full routine

Asking learners to participate in online learning requires the educator to choreograph a full program of work.  They need to know what the learner will have achieved before they start so you can shape the learning and activities so the learners are all dancing to the same rhythm.

Learners need to master different apparatus

Interesting and interactive online learning has learners using a range of equipment (aka tools) as part of the learning performance such as discussion forums, wikis, glossaries, etc.

There are individual and team events

Participatory online learning involves individual and team (group) activities such as having learners individually reflecting in their online journal or blog while working with others to thrash out issues or planning activities through webinar rooms or online chat sessions.

Individuals have to master the routine

Online learners usually don’t have face to face contact with their teacher but are given instructions on how to access and master their online learning routine, and supported at a distance to undertake the course.


These analogies show that, like gymnastics, online learning requires “flexibility” of time, the “balance” of actions and the “control” of the routine.  So when you next think about delivering online training, see yourself and your learners as a gymnasium troupe working together to achieve a desired outcome which can be quite spectacular!

I am sure there are other analogies which could connect the world of gymnastics to the world of online learning, so please share them in the comments section below.


Contact us (email or 0400 732 270) now if you would like to know more about how to implement gymnastic learning, flipped classrooms or MOOCs.  Also, check out our ‘elearning implementation mentoring service’ or join our “Flipped Learning Design Program” which kicks off in Sydney on 27 August.

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If flipped = blended, and MOOC = e-training, then could online = gymnastics?
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