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/Stephanie Morgan 10 reasons blended learning is the answer to your prayers

You are a learning professional and want to integrate learning and work and respond faster to business need. How do you go about it?

The answer actually depends on the context of your organisation and the business need. However, one thing is certain: you will need to use everything (tools, techniques, technology) at your disposal to deliver great learning and performance support.

That’s exactly what blended learning is about - offering a mix of approaches that suit the learner, the context and the organisation. That has to be the overarching aim when designing any blended learning strategy.

But for many organisations, creating a blended approach is still a pipe dream. According to research by learning and development (L&D) benchmarking organisation Towards Maturity only 22% of L&D teams deliver blended learning solutions. But 95% of teams want to respond faster to business need.

If you are one of the vast majority of learning teams looking to develop a blended learning approach then we have pulled together 10 reasons to support your thinking and hopefully enable you to get started.

1. Provides you with permission to start afresh with your learning strategy

Building a blended learning strategy from scratch provides you with the opportunity to wipe the slate clean and envision a totally new way of learning that meets the needs of the organisation and your learners. Sounds pretty straightforward? But when you encumbered with legacy systems and legacy ways of doing things, it takes a brave and bold L&D professional to make significant changes.   

2. Enables you to focus on organizational needs and context

Developing a new blended approach will require you to win over the hearts and minds of the business. You can do this by having a laser focus on the needs of the organisation and the needs of your learners. So, talk with your stakeholders to identify the performance issues. This is critically important, as your solution needs to have business impact. In these discussions you may actually find that learning is not the solution. These conversations will engage the business with your approach, allowing you to introduce the idea of blended versus previous ways of delivering learning.

3. Puts the focus on learner needs

No blended programme is going to work if it does not engage your learners. Consider this statistic: 96% of L&D leaders want to see an increase in self-directed learning but only 25% are achieving it. And learners? The vast majority (91%) want to learn for themselves and at their own pace.

There is a disconnect between what L&D provides and what learners want. To build successful blended programmes you need to put learner needs at the heart of the design process.Making A Business Case For Blended Learning

4. Joins the dots between formal, informal and on-the-job learning

Learning professionals know that learning takes place in a variety of ways. Traditionally, however, L&D teams have had a limited number of approaches to play with, mostly face-to-face training and eLearning. But that has all changed. Technology, including the ubiquity of the smartphone, means L&D teams can design solutions that meet learners wherever they are - at work, on the move or in training sessions.   

5. Allows you to design your learning around how adults learn

The book ‘Make it Stick - The Science of Successful Learning’, provides research-backed insights into how adults learn. In his summary of the book, Donald Clark distils the insights worth acting on, including using stories in learning, spaced practice and formative assessment. All of these techniques can be woven into a blended programme. What’s more, by using diagnostic tools you can identify what a learner knows so that they only receive resources based on that rather than having all content put in front of them.

6. Delivers greater impact from your learning strategy

L&D teams that use a range of approaches in their blend see significant impact on performance and productivity. Of the top 10% best performing organisations in the Towards Maturity research, 62% improve performance and productivity compared with 26% of all other organisations. The key is the use of technology in the blend. Top performers use job aids, skills diagnostic tools and mobile apps to drive engagement and impact.    

7. Enables you to recycle and re-engineer current learning resources

By taking a fresh look at business and learner needs you can reassess your current resources. It is very likely you already have resources that can be used in a new blended programme or you might need to repurpose some to fit your needs. Taking a blended approach does not have to mean creating new content. It enables you to start with what you have and build from there.

8. Helps you and your team develop new skills

The process of assessing business and learner needs can help identify new ways of supporting learners. This provides you with an opportunity to develop new skills within the team. For example, designing high quality blended experiences will require excellent stakeholder management skills as well as design skills to create blended programmes. There will also be opportunities to develop skills around new elements within the blend such as live online learning, collaborative learning, skills diagnostics and data analysis.

9. Transforms traditional, face to face learning delivery

The key here is the word transform. For many L&D teams blended learning has come to mean e-learning topped and tailed with a classroom experience.

Blended learning is about offering a mix of approaches that suit the learner, the context and the organisation. That has to be the overarching aim when designing any blended learning strategy. This approach really presents you with the opportunity to truly transform your learning offering by matching organisational needs and learner needs with techniques and resources that have the greatest impact.

10. Ensures learning is linked to performance

When blended learning is done well, it will always be linked to performance. Why? Because the process starts with identifying the performance need. At this stage, you identify the performance improvement you are looking for and how that will be measured. This focus on performance will help you and your stakeholders have constructive conversations around what success looks like.

A blended learning strategy enables you to work with the business to create highly relevant and meaningful resources that have the greatest impact. The good news is that you can start afresh now. What are you waiting for?

We pride ourselves on delivering outstanding blended learning solutions. Book a consultation with us now to find out more.

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Stephanie Morgan

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

Sharing ideas and observations to help improve performance.

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