Organisations are increasingly recognising the business benefits of combining bite-sized chunks of
personalised content that can be delivered to the desktop in real-time with learning techniques such as shorter classroom-based training sessions and on-the-job line manager training.
Tighter budgets, the need to drive down the cost of training while making it more accessible to a wider audience and the impact of geographically dispersed teams are all continuing to drive the rise in blended learning.
Today’s fast paced business environment where the value of training is under greater scrutiny highlights the importance of embracing more flexible blended learning programmes. This checklist provides 10 top-tips for developing a successful blending learning programme.
1. Align the learning goals
Create a strong project team with senior management buy-in from the outset to ensure the organisational, functional and individual’s learning goals are all aligned. Involve representatives from the target group being trained as well as line managers.
2. Measure success
Agree return on investment (ROI) measures at the outset to ensure that the impact of learning on the growth of the individual and the organisation can be tracked and evaluated successfully. Such measures will help demonstrate that training is a competitive business tool.
3. Make it learner-driven
The learner should be at the heart of all activities. Every individual should know what path their training is taking, where they are now and where they need to be to achieve their personal and corporate goals. Tailor the blend accordingly and let learners take personal ownership over the pace they learn, allowing the process to be accelerated where necessary.
4. Engage the learner
Remember the focus should be about engaging the individual learner as much as fulfilling the organisational brief. Choose a learning environment that is appropriate for the audience. The environment must be stimulating, with e-learning modules, for example, actively engaging the senses. Make sure content is relevant and customised to the learner’s own work realities and challenges.
5. Use a range of training interventions
Combine ‘bite-sized’ learning events with coaching by line managers, in-house development programmes, on-the-job training and consider using social networking tools to meet clearly specified development needs. Remember, ‘blended learning’ does not mean combining e-learning and face to face training. It means using a whole plethora of learning tools appropriate to the learner and the organisational goals that the training is aiming to achieve.
6. Integrate every element
Make sure each component part of the programme - the pre-course assessment, e-learning and other blended activities, live training event and post-course activity - relate to each other with key content and themes reinforced and enhanced throughout the learning event. Every element should stand up in its own right but be part of a wider learning context.
7. Focus on skills development
Blended learning is highly effective in taking a set of abstract skills, embedding them in the individual, and enabling these new skills to be applied at work. Developing management skills, managing change programmes, negotiating, selling, and enhancing customer relationships are all disciplines ideal for blended learning.
8. Adopt a flexible approach
Regular feedback – both formal and informal - and a willingness to refine programmes will help ensure that learners are fully engaged and the organisational goals are achieved. There is no ‘one size fits all’ blend – it’s about choosing the most effective channel for the objective, audience and desired outcome.
9. Technology must be the enabler, not the driver
Don’t forget, technology must be user friendly and appropriate to the target audience in terms of its functionality, interactivity and ease-of-use. Technology can help in the delivery of personalised content and it can create as close to a live interactive, senses-focused environment as possible. Make sure that the training is people rather than technology led, though.
10. Develop a three way charter
Blended learning works best when there is a charter between training suppliers, internal training personnel and learners. Working in true partnership - with ROI central to the solution - is the most effective way to ensure learning is personalised, relevant and delivers maximum value.