Blended Learning is Hard, but (Sometimes) Worth the Effort
For many training professionals the term “blended learning” simply means combining live workshops with e-learning before and/or after the event to drive deeper understanding and more lasting skill development. But the term can also refer to a much more comprehensive approach to adult learning; blending assessments, e-learning, audio podcasts, live workshops, video reinforcement and social media into a deep, substantive learning initiative designed to change behaviors and shift mindsets.
Blended learning isn’t always the best approach. If the goal of a particular training initiative is simple data delivery, ensuring that a group of people receive and comprehend information, then a straightforward “train and test” approach is probably best. Unless the amount of information being delivered is so great that adequate comprehension cannot be achieved with a one-dimensional training approach. Or sometimes the simple solution is the best one. Breaking up a large amount of information into smaller “train and test” segments may be the optimal approach. Sometimes corporate learning professionals forget that basic training solutions can still be highly effective. If the only objective of the training is comprehension of information, there is nothing wrong with simply requiring people to read a document and pass a test.
Even if the objectives of the training go deeper (skill development, change management, etc.) this does not mean that blended learning is the right approach. Because such an effort requires much more time (and budget) for curriculum design, resource development and training execution. And not every learning initiative justifies this additional investment. To help determine if a training initiative justifies consideration of a blended learning we recommend that you answer the following questions:
- How much new information is being delivered?
- What comprehension level needs to be achieved?
- What is the simplest, fastest way to deliver the content and achieve the comprehension objectives?
- Are the participants intrinsically motivated to learn the content (to achieve job-required certification, for example) or does the training initiative need to provide extrinsic motivation and engagement?
- Is this training initiative driving a significant behavioral change?
- Is this training engagement driving a significant mindset change?
- Are new skills being developed?
- What is the tangible financial impact on the business if this training initiative is successful? Will it drive top line revenue growth or bottom line profitability increase? How much?
- What is the degree of visibility and executive level support for this training initiative?
- To what degree does the organization have the infrastructure necessary to support blended learning resources? A learning management system? Online assessment system? Streaming video capability? Social media support?
- Does the internal training team have experience with blended learning curriculum design? If not, what is the plan to gain this expertise, or the budget availability for vendor development?
- Does the internal training team have the capability (and capacity) to developed blended learning resources? If not, what is the budget availability for vendor development?
With over 20 years of experience developing blended learning solutions, Frontline Learning works with client organizations to create “Occam’s Razor” training solutions; the simplest path to achieve the desired outcome. When blended learning is the right approach (based upon answers to the questions above) we also help our clients leverage “off the shelf” resources to create cost-effective blended learning approaches.
Pick any Four.
You don’t have to compromise when selecting training resources for your organization.
When blended learning is the right approach, we work to incorporate a wide variety of learning media; streaming video, audio podcasting, social media, e-learning and mobile phone learning, online assessments, etc.
One example of our approach to blended learning is our Real Negotiation program. This is a training program designed to build business-to-business negotiation skills for salespeople and others who experience significant negotiating pressure from their customers.
Because the program drives new skills develop and ultimately a deep change in mindset and behavior, a simple “train and test” approach would not achieve the desired outcome. So instead Frontline incorporated a 7-phase learning model (see illustration below) designed to drive deep change within individuals and organizations.
7-Phase Learning Model
Good training content isn’t enough to ensure skill development that drives business results.
At Frontline Learning we work hard to ensure that all of our training content is researched, validated and field-tested, we also know that having the right training content is only the beginning of a solid learning initiative. When it is critical that your training efforts can be counted on to deliver a specific business outcome, we recommend a 7-Phase Learning Model.
This approach is designed to ensure your training effort and investment is targeted to the development of high-leverage skills, habits and attitudes – those that will have the greatest tangible impact on your business results. Because all of our resources and programs are developed with this approach in mind, the execution of this training methodology can be easy and cost-effective.