This is one of the main reasons Instructor-Led Training (ILT) has remained the default for everything from higher learning to workforce training programs — in spite of the availability of online learning tools.
As of last year, an average of 40.3% of training hours were still being delivered in a traditional ILT classroom setting while only 29.6% were delivered digitally. And although blended learning was a popular approach, roughly 10% of organizations required all training hours to be completed in person.
But as we’ve seen in the past few months, there are many reasons this may not be advisable. So how can organizations ensure not only the continued delivery but also the continued effectiveness of learning programs — even when the classroom experience isn’t an option?
Blended learning is an educational approach which leverages digital tools to deliver instruction in a way that gives learners some element of control over the time, place, path or pace of their training. Unlike simple tech-rich instruction which simply transfers classroom work into an online environment, blended learning fundamentally shifts the curriculum to maximize the potential for personalization, collaboration and retention.
This is hardly a new concept, but one with particular value in today’s shifting environment as learning professionals seek new, creative ways to engage learners and provide rich instructional experiences beyond the classroom.
Here are four ways to begin shifting your learning program toward a more effective blended training model:
Social interaction is critical to any learning program. Casual hallway conversations or water cooler chats provide important opportunities for students to ask questions or exchange ideas. But as physical distance increases so does the need to provide supplemental opportunities for this type of collaboration and discussion.
Think beyond formal training events to create meaningful learning experiences that include an organic social component. Leverage collaboration tools to host forums or discussions, form learning groups and establish goals to solve business problems. Or, create groups with the task of researching solutions to be presented to their peers.
Rather than thinking of your lesson plan as something that needs to be “pushed” or impressed upon students, look for ways to empower learners to “pull” that information from the curriculum through self-driven exercises or activities. Internal wikis and blogs are a great way to standardize knowledge, document processes and encourage employee to take ownership of their learning experiences. These are all valuable ways to increase the knowledge and skills of your teams while driving toward real business results.
While many organizations have already begun digitizing some, if not all, learning processes, others are still making the transition.
If you haven’t yet invested in a Learning Management System (LMS), now is the time to do so. Your LMS software will serve as the central hub of information for your blended learning program, allowing users to access online resources and performance support — and in some cases giving you the built-in tools to develop your own e-learning content. For those who already have an established LMS in place, now may be the time to expand to a more connected learning platform that provides performance support or includes other assets such as glossaries, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) or conversational agents.
As you begin building your blended learning solution, consider how collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams and Cisco Webex can be leveraged when face-to-face instruction isn’t possible. Both of these tools provide a higher touch than autonomous learning, with additional opportunities to ask questions, work together in virtual breakout rooms, take real-time surveys and share learning resources seamlessly.
Performance support refers to any physical or digital tool — from checklists to video clips — which can be used to reinforce a particular skill in a moment of need. When it comes to online and blended learning programs, the more performance support you can provide, the better equipped students will be to meet objectives.
Start by assessing your current learning platform. Do your learners have access to the information they need when they need it? How many clicks does it take to get to the information they need? The more easily accessible performance tools are, the more readily they will be used.
Gather feedback from employees and management to determine where frustrations or knowledge gaps may exist. Then look for opportunities to provide additional performance support in those instances. New technologies from augmented reality to conversational agents offer innovative ways to deliver the right information to the right person at the right time.
While a standard blended learning solution focuses on creating a balance of online and in-person classroom experiences, a flipped classroom strategy leverages technology to completely reverse the typical education scenario, accelerating time to proficiency.
Rather than instructors teaching concepts in the classroom and assigning “homework” activities to build competency, a flipped format enables learners to absorb new concepts outside the classroom before putting skills into practice with instructors and classmates.
While it may sound complex, e-learning tools make it fairly simple to take your blended learning approach the extra mile. Structure online courses in a way that introduces new skills before bringing learners together to solve problems or collaborate on related challenges. As students build knowledge and problem-solving skills, this approach also helps to build a sense of community and growth that extends even beyond the classroom.
Yes. Blended learning and flipped classroom solutions provide a solid framework for designing learning paths that align with individual and corporate growth strategies.
Instead of relying heavily on live, instructor-led courses these approaches enable team members to control the scope and pace of learning based on their needs and the needs of the business. This improves motivation and means learners come to the table not only prepared to contribute but also ready to own their ongoing educational journey.
By taking the time to revisit your training philosophy and build a more robust digital strategy now, your organization will be better positioned to empower employees in the short term, while laying the foundation for long-term success.