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/Natalie Lewendon The blended learning traps to know and avoid

According to a recent survey, many people disagree on what, precisely, blended learning is[1]. With all this confusion, no wonder so many are making avoidable mistakes when blending.

Currently only 22% of workplace learning is being delivered via blended solutions[2] — which means that 78% of L&D professionals could benefit from rethinking the way they design and deliver their blends.

Research shows the most successful L&D departments are four times more likely to blend[3]. However, incomplete blends reduce the ROI of new solutions. This can result in missed KPIs, which can lead to reluctance to put faith in full blended learning. It also reinforces the mistaken belief that blended learning doesn’t work.

Knowing about these pitfalls can help you stay on track, and deliver winning learning to your people.

Image The Dangers Of Getting Your Blend Wrong Pub 11 5 17

Don’t try to guess what they need

It’s always a challenge to get to grips with what a team’s L&D needs are. Having said that, because it’s difficult is no reason to short-cut it. Analysis will always pay off in the long run; it’s far more difficult to deliver a solution based on guesswork.

To get to the root of what your blend needs to be, undertake a Business Needs Analysis. Understanding your objectives, the skills and knowledge required to achieve your learners' needs, and context is essential to planning a complete solution.

Don’t set them up to fail

There are many delivery methods to choose from—each with pros and cons. If you balance the elements beautifully, it will flow. If you shoehorn something in, it may disrupt that flow and trip people up.

If you understand what you’re trying to fix, matching delivery methods to learners’ needs will make your blend just right—giving them the best chance to succeed!

Don’t believe the hype

It’s easy to favour a proven type of delivery. Try not to just plump for longstanding methods, such as classroom experiences—but don’t let your head be turned by the latest L&D fad either!

While it might feel safer to go with something tried and tested, you might need something more unusual to draw your learners in. At the same time, we should be keen to try things that engage and excite learners—but just because something is new and interesting doesn't mean it will achieve what you want.

When blending, you need to start from ‘ground zero’ to consider what works for your project.

Don’t be afraid to start over

It may be tempting to recycle existing content, but the odds of it slotting perfectly into your blend are slim. Build your blend, and then establish whether you have any content that fits.

If you repurpose content, you need to put a new lens on it to ensure it is appropriate. Remember that it will likely need more work than just changing the delivery format.

Don’t rely on outdated systems

Often the LMS can be outdated, and not ready to handle the innovative new additions that make your blend brilliant. However, starting with a new system can sound daunting.

It isn’t something that happens overnight—but the longer you put it off, the more outdated it becomes. You need to be able to deliver your blend to learners in a way that meets your vision, so take the plunge if you need to.

Don’t neglect the buy-in

You might think that the next step is giving the learning to your people. However, the buy-in phase is often overlooked—but vital.

Building excitement before implementing your solution can transform results. Use storytelling to engage learners by illustrating problems that the organisation and learner are experiencing. Then show how your solution will transform the situation. Helping people reflect on their own performance puts into perspective exactly how your solution will help them.

Don’t put your feet up just yet

As learning professionals, we test to find new ways to optimise learning. People’s habits, likes and dislikes should be used as part of your ongoing Learner Needs Analysis, and to review and upgrade as people use your learning blend.

Managers are the ones who witness the informal discussions through which most people express their views about learning. This feedback can form a key part of the thought process behind your next blend. By working with managers, L&D can ensure future blends are even more attuned to what learners want. They’re your eyes and ears—use them!

Don’t get put off by curveballs

It can be frustrating when learning doesn’t work as you expect. The risk is that we damage a learner’s faith, particularly if they’re suspicious about a new learning plan.

Some encounter unpredictable and unusual difficulties. One company found out too late that their computers didn’t have sound cards, meaning their new eLearning could not play audio clips.

We want to predict the issues people will have while in our development stage, but this isn’t always possible. However, a pilot can catch and fix issues before they affect learners.

Don’t panic

It’s simple: if you understand context, strike a balance, steer clear of hype, don’t get tunnel vision and always test before you start, your preparation will help you craft a winning solution—one that meets the needs of your learners and the business.

Want to know more? Download our 'Fatal Errors of Blended Learning' whitepaper completely free:

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References:

  1. Jane Hart (25 Jan 2015). ‘What does the term “blended learning” mean? The results’ [blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.c4lpt.co.uk/blog/2015/01/25/what-does-the-term-blended-learning-mean-the-results
  2. 2016-17 Towards Maturity Benchmark Study, Unlocking Potential: The Fast Facts
  3. 2014-15 Towards Maturity Benchmark Study, Modernising Learning: Delivering Results

 

Natalie

Natalie Lewendon, Content and Marketing Executive

Bringing you business, leadership and L&D wisdom from the experts.

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