Traditional classroom training or online training—which is better? A strong case can be made for either method. But a stronger case can be made for transcending this either/or choice in favor of blended learning.
With the innovative digital learning technologies released every day, you can use an LMS to blend online and live training into a compelling, overarching program. But why stop there? Incorporate the hosting of discussions and daily stand ups by phone, virtual conferencing, or social networking. Encourage field trips—virtual or in person—to get a better feel for the work that needs to be done and the context in which it needs to be accomplished. Think about mobile learning, performance support and microlearning. Use video, audio and “sketchnoting” to enhance engagement and creativity. In short, blended learning is essentially a mix of multiple learning methods and tactics combined to create a cohesive—and hyper-engaging—learning program.
Blending. Just Do It.
Sold yet? Either way, here are some ideas to get even more ideas flowing on how—and why—to consider blending in learning.
- Level the Playing Field: Bring all learners to the same knowledge level through requiring online prerequisites before the live training course. Quiz for comprehension afterward.
- Keep the Conversation Alive: Blended learning extends training beyond a single “event.” Individualize online training assignments, encourage collaboration and conversation (in person or online) between live training sessions, and bring everyone back to the live session when the time is right. Keep learning alive, and ensure that it is brought back to the job site.
- Eliminate Forced Busywork: Online training allows learners to absorb training on their own time and on their own schedule, leaving valuable classroom time for specific skill-building activities that require interaction with trainers and peers. Moving in and out of various learning methodologies accommodates individual learner styles and preferences.
- Bring Relevancy to Learning: Allowing some learning, such as videotaped lectures, to take place online or offline, reserves in-person training time for structured exercises that emphasize the application of the learning for problem-solving or task-based learning.
- Respect Both Trainers’ and Learners’ Time: Trainers can shift their focus from personally overseeing every minute detail of knowledge delivery to focusing on the application of knowledge. And companies save money by reducing travel time of trainers (who may not need to be on site for every single learning event) and learners (who can maximize their time doing their jobs). Live training is reserved for only those activities that truly do need to be delivered face-to-face.
Just a start on idea generation in favor of blended learning programs. Other ideas on how to and why to consider creating blended learning programs? Please share via our social media channels.
A Suggestion—and a Challenge—for You
Blended learning. Try it out, and start (or continue) blending.
Not quite sure where to start or how to expand your current efforts? Start small. Take all your lecture-based, live training materials and create a self-paced online training course. For the material that doesn’t fit into that format, host discussions and daily stand ups by phone, virtual conferencing, or via a social network. See where these first steps take you, and be creative with your ideas to make learning valuable to individuals and organizations.
This suggestion doesn’t need to turn into a time sink. Accept this challenge to create an online training course in one day, and see if you can transcend the either/or trap of “live vs. online” to blend the best of multiple training worlds.
Gauri Reyes is a talent developer and learning leader with extensive experience in roles ranging from software management to managing the learning function in organizations. She is Principal Learning Strategist and CEO at Triple Point Advisors and Founder of the YOUth LEAD program. Follow her on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+.