Delivering results using Blended Learning and why your business needs it
It has long been agreed that each person will process and learn new information in different ways depending on their personal make up. Failure to acknowledge this will put many of your staff at a disadvantage as there is no such thing as a one size fits all training intervention.
There are in fact seven possible learning styles that allow us to learn and retain information but only three main styles need to be considered when planning your training. These are Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic and combining learning interventions to cope with these styles is a term called Blended Learning.
The next stage is to ascertain which learning interventions are available.
The ‘buzz’ word at the moment is eLearning but this term alone can mean a number of different things. It could be content that has been created on a system such as Adobe Captivate; a form of interactive learning and placed on a Learning Management System to be accessed by many people. It could also be a Quick Reference Guide that has been uploaded to a company intranet site. That’s why it has to be made very clear what is expected from eLearning especially when recruiting an IT Trainer who you may need to have something like Captivate skills.
So let’s get some terminology out of the way then. Let’s say that any learning which requires the learner to access training via technology is called Online Learning and any other learning should be called Offline Learning.
A business should also consider the cost of eLearning against its effectiveness. Whilst it can reach out to a staggering amount of people all at once which in itself is cost effective, does is cater for all of the learning styles? It could be that some learners are unable to use the required technology or who really just don’t like that method of learning (I’m one of those people – I’m a kinaesthetic and social learner!). Straight away I would be at a disadvantage as a learner and the business would certainly not see any ROI in me.
There are many types of learning interventions that can be used in combination that will cater for all learning styles and in turn would make your training efforts cost effective. Here’s a list of some different types of interventions that we would discuss with you when planning your training depending on budget and numbers of staff to be trained.
1-2-1 (Face-to-Face Meetings)
This is a very personable and effective approach to learning but one that has costly overheads. Whilst the learner engages with the trainer on a one to one basis which enables the trainer to tailor design elements of the course to meet the needs of the learner, the process benefits very few people in a business and yet there could be hundreds of people all requiring the same training. For small groups this is an effective method of delivery as you can support individuals as and when needed, but in larger groups it is neither time nor cost effective to the business.
This is very much a social way of learning and one that many learners favour and choose to adopt. The reason is because the trainer can cater for larger numbers and learners can ask questions and get answers immediately. This benefits those learners that are hesitant to ask questions but can absorb what others are saying. If groups are relatively small, then this is a very cost effective way of learning, however if the business has hundreds of people who need to learn, the cost again can be excessive and it can further be a timely exercise.
Coaching is performance driven and looks to improve a person’s performance for a particular task. This means enhancing current skills or acquiring new skills. It is a short term solution as when a skill has been successfully achieved, the job of the coach is complete. Coaching can and should be offered by peers and managers (those that can already carry out the tasks).
Mentoring is development driven and looks to develop a person not only for the current job but also for the future. Mentoring requires trust and a place where a person can feel safe and secure in sharing real issues. It is therefore arguably not a good idea to have an immediate manager as a mentor if this causes issue to the person but perhaps senior managers or managers who do not have a direct responsibility may be suitable.
As the name suggests, this type of learning is simply about the learner taking responsibility for their own education using workbooks and other resources given to them by the trainer. Although a popular method, some learners find this type of learning is a lonely place to be with very little contact from others to bounce ideas off. The other point to make is that the individual needs to be committed and focused on the learning, giving themselves the required time without distractions.
This is sort of intervention is used in combination with one or more of the others after the main training session has taken place. Reflective Questions can be in the form of verbal or written and aim to ask learners to think about the session just attended and answer specific questions based on the content of the system.
Off-Line Activities/On the Job
These can be task driven and also designed to assess an individual on specific tasks. These are exceptionally useful when certain tasks need to abide by legalities and policies and therefore need to be done right. A set of real life scenarios for an individual to work through can be created and then a line manager can sign off on successful completion.
Many businesses have their own intranet site. These are used to share information between staff about the business. However it can also be used as a learning platform where quick guides and training documentation can be held to support staff when learning or upskilling. This is a very easy way of allowing staff free access to training resources. However, the downside is that staff may not access the information provided.
An LMS is used to deliver online courses or training to learners while managing the students and keeping track of their progress and performance. You can create registers, invite learners to attend course and also add interactive learning content for staff to learn from. It is one easy to go place where all training is managed and stored so this isn’t so much as a learning intervention on its own, but is something that is used as part of controlling how training is managed.
E-Learning Modules/Software Simulations
Elearning created as online material are created as interactive modules. They are developed by eLearning specialists and can consist of games, multiple choice questions, videos, text and images. Software simulations are just simulated videos showing how software can be used. They can also be interactive and tests can be created to ensure knowledge and understanding has taken place. This is a very cost effective method of delivery as it is aimed at large target audiences/learners across the entire business. It is also very flexible and as long as it is used with an LMS and other accompanying interventions mentioned, this one is the whole package.
This form of training intervention is one that is often used to demonstrate physical tasks. They can be uploaded onto the internet (YouTube) or onto your intranet site for all to see. Cost wise, this intervention can be as costly as you want it to be. Videos can be taken via mobile devices such as laptops, tables and mobile telephones. However they can also be created by a professional which can boost the cost significantly.