What you need to know to make the best use of blended learning

 

There is a general lack of consensus on the definition of blended learning, many of which focus only on mixing technology with the traditional classroom setting. However, at goFLUENT, we believe the right blended learning approach varies from organization to organization, through the use of different technologies to maximize reach, engagement, and the efficacy of training.

Global organizations are increasingly placing more value in efficiency and productivity, and this is expanding to more than just operations and production. Giving some thought to the efficiency and engagement of training programs will have major impact on its return on expectations (ROE).

As Diana Laurillard, Professor of Learning with Digital Technologies at the London Knowledge Lab, UCL Institute of Education, confirms in her book Teaching As A Design Science, people effectively learn in different circumstances: by reading, watching, listening, discussing concepts with others, collaborating with others, practicing skills and procedures in a safe environment, observing others at work, and trying things out for themselves. As a result, she emphasizes the importance of harnessing new technologies and methods of teaching to generate more value for learners. And in the cases of organizations employing the learners, generate more value for their businesses.

 

Mixing and matching with blended learning

An ideal blended learning program takes all of those different learning circumstances into consideration and presents learners with a variety of opportunities to engage in training. These may come in the form of a mix of self-study, one-on-one distance or face-to-face lessons, traditional or virtual classrooms, discussion forums, workplace coaching, mobile learning, among others.

Implementing technologies like a virtual classroom allows people to come together from different places at the same time for a workshop. Mobile learning provides opportunities to learn in flexible situations, even while learners are on-the-go. Digital forums promote dialogue between people who are in different timezones. One-on-one lessons ensure high quality instruction that focuses on the learner’s objectives. But it’s not just about providing variety, it’s about finding the optimum mix of effective, relevant delivery methods for your organization.

 

Consider how your workforce learns

Towards Maturity, a market research company that focuses on helping human resource professionals drive learning innovation to deliver business impact, published the report Excellence in Leadership Development: Energising Leaders Through Technology, which sampled 2,000 leaders to discover what is driving change in leadership development today. They found that the majority of these directors, senior managers, and line managers were learning what they need for their job on the way to and from work. Many of them spend evenings and weekends, and while travelling to client meetings, learning as well.

Following this pattern, lack of time is often a seen as a hinderance for training, and learners are sometimes skeptical about the value of one-session interventions, feeling like learning is more of a process where participants can practice and develop skills over time. Leaders at all levels surveyed shared an appetite for on-demand and non-formal interventions that fit fast-paced working lifestyles.

Context in learning is also crucial for busy professionals, yet many learning and development practitioners are not embracing new models that support contextual learning. According to the report, 90% are aware of the 70:20:10 model of learning, but only a quarter of them have implemented it in their initiatives.

Which of these factors are relevant to your organization will depend on your operations and culture. This is why considerations must be addressed in the critical beginning of any training initiative, during a training needs analysis.

Training, from needs analysis to measuring its ROE, should be an integral part of business operations, closely aligned with challenges and opportunities that your organization faces. It shouldn’t just be a one-time event, but a range of opportunities to efficiently and effectively transfer relevant information to your workforce. Blended learning can be transformational for business efficiency and productivity. When done right, it will make training easier to fit into your workforce’s busy lives, increasing reach, take up and business impact.

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