I recently had coffee with a friend who works in the voluntary sector. She was tasked with putting a blended learning design together on a tiny budget, and wondered if I had any pointers.
One thing that people in this sector have in common is that they are often challenged by their budgets. Obviously—and quite rightly—as much of their income as possible needs to be spent on the cause they are supporting, but they still need their people to be developed so they can do a good job.
Sometimes there is no shortcut—where you need to spend the money for specific outcomes, do it–but don’t assume that you always have to. If you get creative and think outside the box, there might be more options than you realise, and you can put together a small blend that does a great job without breaking the bank.
If you want some inspiration, these are some of the ideas we came up with.
With so much content out there, if you can find a YouTube video, a TED talk, an infographic or slideshow that perfectly makes your point and delivers the learning you want, incorporate it into your blend!
Remember though: shoehorning in something that doesn’t exactly fit could be detrimental to the message. You’ll have to invest time in finding the right content, and this itself could end up ‘costing’ you more than paying for design.
Once you’ve invested time in researching content, you don’t want to do it all over again next time. Keeping a Pinterest board as you go along of content you think you might like to call on in the future means that you won’t duplicate effort - easily finding things again when you want to use them for an appropriate blend.
Creating video doesn't have to be a long, drawn-out process. If an award-winning feature film can be shot on an iPhone 5s, you can probably handle shooting some of your own learning content. Get a tripod or a 'selfie stick' and film subject matter experts giving advice and insight, or people demonstrating tasks step-by-step.
Apple's new Clips app even adds text to video in real time, while you’re recording. For very short microlearning videos, this can be an amazing way to get the video's meaning across for when the clip autoplays in a social feed, or on Slack, as most people in the office won't have their speakers on. This is also great for those accessing learning on the go!
3. Deliver differently
Ask yourself where you’re spending money, and work backwards to see where a saving can be made.
- Can something that’s currently being delivered face-to-face be delivered virtually?
- Could you provide some online guides to line managers so they could deliver the learning direct to their teams instead?
- In place of digital options, could you deliver the content via webinar, or straight to camera?
If you need to get a lot of content out, and if you can make them yourself, virtual or online programmes can deliver learning for large or dispersed teams. They can also then be kept for users to access later. A very simple version: A slideshow with a quiz afterwards, which can easily be created using tools downloadable from the internet.
We know about the benefits of sharing knowledge with peers, and if you’re trying to move towards 70:20:10, you will already be looking for ways to encourage your people to share and discuss learning.
Setting up a social channel like Slack, or a closed group on social media—LinkedIn, for example—is straightforward. With these you can encourage learners to engage with social methods of learning, improving results and engagement, as well getting them to take more responsibility for their learning.
You could use GIFs to make the learning more fun, or plugins to make quizzes. You can set IFTTT reminders to encourage time for reflective practice. Experiment with what’s available—how can it be used?
And you don’t have to come up with all the answers yourself! When was the last time you put your professional network to work for you? Put the call out on social media and ask your Personal Learning Network what resources they would be happy to share.
Of course, when putting your blend together you still need to consider carefully what it is you're trying to achieve, what impact you want to have on your learners, and finally the best delivery method for the content. It's got to be coherent and purposeful. You should work backwards from the desired business effect. If you are focused on one delivery method which you can’t afford or which you aren’t able to deliver, you close yourself off to other approaches.
This isn't a short cut! If you’re building a blended learning programme by yourself, it's not going to be quick or easy.
As I said, when you’ve got to spend, you’ve got to spend—but with these alternative approaches, you can be more discerning about what you spend money on.
As experts in blended learning, we have produced a FREE brief guide to understand the basics of good blending.
The guide will help you:
- Understand what blending is and how it can help your organisation's learning and development strategy.
- Decide what may be lacking in your current learning provision.
- Use the steps to structure a plan towards more blended learning.
Download now by clicking the button below and immerse yourself in the rewarding world of blended learning.
Stephanie Morgan FLPI, Director of Learning Solutions, Bray Leino Learning
Sharing ideas and observations to help improve performance.
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