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/Stephanie Morgan Why your blended learning isn’t working

Are you struggling with blended learning? Despite blending having been a widely accepted and established part of the L&D landscape for a number of years, many people still can’t quite blend effectively. In fact, according to Towards Maturity’s recent Benchmark Report, just 22% of learning is delivered via fully blended solutions. This struggle to create blends that work is perhaps reflected in the many learners who find their current learning uninspiring. Could your people be similarly disengaged?

The warning signs can be quite clear. Do your people attend face-to-face learning without having completed other, necessary parts of the blend? Do some of your learning solutions have low enrolment or active participation? If so, it may be time to ask whether your blend isn’t working and start to figure out why. If you’re not sure where to start, don’t panic, as here are three common reasons why blends don’t work.

Classroom Sandwich

It’s easy to confuse a classroom sandwich with successful blended learning and it’s a very common misapprehension. However, unlike a true blend, a classroom sandwich starts by centring learner’s experience around a course or classroom experience, rather than asking what the most engaging delivery method would be.

In a sandwich, the knowledge element is then pulled out of that classroom-based experience and delivered as pre-reading (sometimes digitally), usually to make the classroom experience quicker or less costly. The bad news is that this isn’t true blending and I have rarely seen it work.

This is especially true if the people in your organisation have become accustomed to simply attending a face-to-face course without needing to either prepare or undertake any follow-up learning. If you then challenge this by asking learners to undertake additional work in the form of pre-work, the classroom sandwich becomes a confusing, not engaging, experience. By the time the additional pre-work content has been reviewed ‘in class’, there aren’t usually any time or cost savings anyway!

Wrong blend

Another common reason for blended learning not working is having the wrong content elements in your blend. For example, there’s huge hype about virtual reality at the moment, and many learning professionals are eagerly using the technology despite its limited applicability and the potentially high price tag consuming large portions of L&D budgets. Why?

Well, the VR example may demonstrate how easy it is to develop a bias for a particular technology or delivery method, especially when it is new or exciting. By comparison, blended learning requires us to forget personal preferences, hype or novelty value in order to answer one core question:

“Which delivery method will best help my learners meet their objectives?”

Losing sight of this question might be one reason why your blended learning may not be working.

Targeted audience

Part of choosing the most effective learning delivery methods is getting to grips with who your learners are. After all, you can’t select the best option without understanding who you’re trying to help.

Creating blended learning that works therefore starts with understanding exactly what people need to achieve, along with how close they are to reaching those goals. Without considering this, it’s incredibly easy to present people with solutions which are too pedantic and slow paced, whilst creating learning which is too challenging will set your learners up to fail, demoralising them and damaging their enthusiasm to pull learning in the future.

Need a hand?

It can be challenging to appreciate why your blend isn’t a success, especially when you work with your solutions every day. Your blended learning may not be working for any one, or combination of, the reasons we’ve discussed, but the consequence will usually be unhappy learners who aren’t necessarily meeting their learning objectives, meaning you may not be hitting KPIs either.

Fortunately, though, having worked out why your blend isn’t working, you can take action to get it back on track. With this in mind, why not join me for my upcoming webinar Developing a Blended Learning Mindset, at 2pm on 28th February 2017. I’ll be looking at what options there are to get your existing content working, along with how to make sure your future blends work from day one.

Can’t make it? The webinar will be available to download afterwards via the Bray Leino Learning website.

Stephanie Morgan

Stephanie Morgan FLPI, Director of Learning Solutions, Bray Leino Learning

Sharing ideas and observations to help improve performance.

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