For all L&D managers in the corporate world, delivering successful training within available time and resources is a continuing challenge. Presenting information to learning in the right way can be the key to achieving learning outcomes. And since a lot of moneys and time is invested into creating impactful training, there is a definite trend of developing higher levels of interest in how learners want to learn, in addition to what they need to. The ultimate aim is to make learning exciting enough to become a lifelong pursuit for learners and there are various ways of achieving this. Today, one of the most popular one is using blended learning ideas.
For a large number of corporate houses which rely wholly on classroom training, many fear that instructors may lack the experience of using technology to help learners. E-learning developers can help out and create blended learning that combines the strength of classroom-approach as well as technology-aided learning.
It is important to note that some courses are best delivered through interactive classroom sessions while some may be successfully imparted through an online platform. Similarly, some learners may best learn through the self-paced mode of online learning, while some will always prefer a classroom approach. It is best to analyze the audiences and then choose the right course ahead to fill learning gaps through a blended approach.
Blended Learning for Text-Heavy courses
Much of the training created for corporates is content heavy, which shares all the pertinent information needed for the employees. But this approach fails to create a sustained interest in learning as most employees fail to read through the entire material and this often reflects in the quality of work. An organization grappling with this problem was presented with a blended solution which successfully created a renewed interest for learning among all employees.
The Blended Solution
• An LMS was created to provide online material to learners. It helped to create schedules for them and provide timelines that guided the learners on how to proceed through the course.
• This LMS also provided the much-needed tracking mechanism to make sure that all employees were going through the course, within the required time-lines.
• The course being content-heavy, was supported by sessions with subject-matter experts and peers to encourage a better understanding.
• These sessions were led by facilitators and were also tracked to keep tabs on how much the learner has gained from the course.
• A third ‘layer’ of interaction was also introduced which aimed at collaborative learning amongst the learner group. Learners were encouraged to ‘meet-up’ in online chat-rooms to discuss problems or doubts and try to find the answers amongst themselves. While a facilitator was present to ensure smooth-sailing, learners were the ones asking questions and finding the answers together. This third layer of interaction breathed life into the content-heavy course, and helped to uncover its practical utilities.
This solution introduced a completely new mode of learning – the online approach, but complimented it with another approach – an instructor led one, which made sure that learner felt more connected with the course and was encouraged to learn more.
A blended approach to Soft-Skills training
Soft skills and personality development trainings are best suited for a Classroom. True, but what are the ‘take homes’ after these classroom sessions? No matter how impactful an instructor is in the class, a lot of what is taught is lost with time. There is a need for constant re-enforcement and refreshers of the training, which is often a challenge with the classroom-only approach.
The Blended Solution
• Each training session was broken down in small capsules and presented in a format that aided quick reading. Language was kept simple and content presented in bullets format.
• This short encapsulated version aided the learner in two ways. It provided refreshers to the class, in a manner that a quick look is all that it took.
• With the online version of the training being compatible with mobiles too, the learner could actually have access to it anytime, as per his/her convenience.
• It gave learner the choice to pick up subjects that he/she needed a refresher on, at any given point in time. Maybe at leisure – when travelling or during free time, or maybe at the nick-of-time – just before an important presentation.
Overall, it improved quality of training and with time, it was also reflected on the improvement in working standards and productivity of the trainees.
A blended approach to Technical Courses
Technical courses are often the most in demand, with newer technologies and software doing the rounds every day. For such a continuous demand, a blended solution was a perfect solution for an organization, which encouraged its employees to keep up-to-date. Much of the software used by its employees would go through version-changes, creating a need for training – which needed to be quick but efficient.
The Blended Solution
• The online course outlined the major changes in the software and their implications. Length of the course was kept short, to ensure that learner gets used to the basics of the newer version.
• Background on the basics of the previous versions was kept as an optional view, for learners who wanted to be apprised.
• Details and workings of the newer versions were reserved for an instructor-led session. The learner, having created a foundation with the online course, found it easier to understand practical approaches and clear doubts.
• This approach worked very well for the learner group, who were busy professionals and were used to the idea of self-paced learning. An online course gave them the liberty of reading up on the basics as per their own convenience. Taking time out for a scheduled instructor-led session was then that much easier!
• Instructor-led sessions were also better in quality, as learners came ‘well-prepared’.
• This model, in its simplicity, was perfect for short technical courses and very easily implemented across similar trainings.
An online version helped to create a foundation for learning and the instructor-led session built up on it. The blend of these two approaches made sure that learner was able to extract the best of both.
Conclusion: Blended Learning can be implemented across different types of courses and trainings. The focus is not, what comes first – online or classroom. It is also not which is more important, e-learning or instructor-led trainings. It is about finding a perfect balance of both, that suits a particular training or learner.
Source and suggested further read: Adopting Suitable Strategies For Blended Learning