Blended Learning is the latest puzzle facing L&D professionals.
My colleague, Stephanie Morgan examined this recently in her blog, What is blended learning. As Stephanie said, for some it seems simple enough – take a training course and stick a piece of eLearning before it (as prior learning), after it (as a refresher or test of learning) or even in the middle of it (as a different media or link between two sessions).
Of course, it isn’t that simple.
Some people describe blending learning as being very similar to following a recipe – take specific amounts of listed ingredients, mix them in a pre-determined way and then cook/build them into a very specific structure.
I disagree, because:
- In the reality of the learning world you must start with the learner, and the right amounts of each learning method will vary from learner to leaner (Each individual may decide to mix the elements in all sorts of different ways, and the resultant blend will be unique for everyone).
- The perfect ‘recipe’ will vary enormously between organisations (What is right for a global, matrix management, channel marketing, digitally-savvy organisation will be completely different from what is right for a national, hierarchical, largely office-based organisation).
Therefore, selecting the right elements of your programme is critical to its success. Through our work in this field, we’re hearing the question “Is eLearning right for my blended learning programme?” being asked more and more regularly by clients.
As I said, there can be no single answer. Our advice is that, to answer the question, you have to do four things:
The first thing is to be very specific about the ‘organisational improvement’ you are seeking to achieve (and every time you consider a learning medium, ask yourself the question ‘will this help me achieve the sought-after improvement?’)
Secondly, analyse your learners:
- How experienced are they (will learning be building on prior knowledge or starting from scratch),
- How do they like to learn
- How they are connected (physically and digitally)
- What equipment do they have (would they be able to access your eLearning easily)
- How many are there (is a face-to-face option cheaper)
- Where are they (is it difficult to get them together)
- Do they all need to be trained at the same time (hard to achieve face-to-face)
- Do they all need to be trained to the same level (would your eLearning become too complex by covering too many variables)?
Thirdly, look widely at all of the learning media options available to you – face-to-face training, webinars, videos, slide share, virtual classrooms, conference calls, coaching, forum theatre, eLearning, feedback, simulations, the huge range of web-based information, and social media (public and private).
Only by looking at a range of options can you determine the right media, and even then the best answer is almost certainly offering options that learners can choose from.
Fourthly, think about your content
- How frequently will it need updating (updating eLearning can be expensive)
- How complex is it to explain (remember eLearning will limit you to one key message per screen)
- Will you be able to test and measure learning in some way (if you are to use eLearning, you’ll probably want/need to be doing this)
- How organisationally specific does your content need to be (are you looking at bespoke eLearning)
- How secure does it need to be (eLearning may have advantages over social media if this is a concern)
With these considerations explored in real depth and specifically for your organisation and your learners, you will then be able to answer the question is eLearning right for my blended learning programme.
- You’ll know what you need to achieve and, therefore, the return on investment
- You’ll know how suitable eLearning is for your audience
- You’ll have explored every option
- You’ll have the level and type of content right
If you’d like to know more about how we can help you on your journey towards blended learning, give us a call.
Nigel Walpole, MD, Bray Leino Learning
In my series of blogs I’ll talk through my thoughts on some of the key issues facing managers in the workplace - lessons learnt, tips for success and general musings.