28 October 2016

Why blended learning is essential for corporate training


eLearning coach Connie Malamed suggests that “One of the most important areas we can develop as professionals is competence in accessing and sharing knowledge” and one of the best ways to achieve this is through blended learning. 

Blended learning: What is it and why should you offer or encourage it?

It is a combination of traditional learning and eLearning.

eLearning isn’t a new concept; in fact, it’s been around for over a decade. Some were quick to adapt to this new style of learning, others are still yet to reap the benefits.

Whichever camp you’re in, sooner or later you’ll be faced with eLearning as part of a Blended Learning program.

A Blended Learning program typically contain three components:

  • eLearning — The digital delivery of content online
  • Face-to-face learning — In a classroom environment or one on one
  • Independent learning — Structured, self-paced learning time

While there is absolutely still a place for face-to-face learning (as its in-person, hands-on practical element cannot be replaced by electronic delivery), it can most certainly be supported and complemented by its newer cousin, eLearning.

The benefits of eLearning go beyond proven cost and time savings, especially if it leverages a powerful learning management system (LMS).

Benefits to management

  • It provides more control over the time, place or pace for learning, and minimises disruption to work.
  • It simplifies the training process and makes it consistent and repeatable.
  • It increases global reach as training can be delivered regardless of who needs training and when, which timezone they are in, and how many learners there are.
  • It allows the trainer to approach learning with more flexibility and enhances the learning experience with personalised curriculum.
  • It captures training results and stores them where they are easily accessible.

Benefits to learners (employees, customers, and more)

  • It appeals to the multisensory ways we interact and engage (just look at our social media footprints!), and makes multiple training formats possible to appeal to different learning styles (e.g. video, podcast, text).
  • It allows for increased interaction with trainers, makes them more approachable.
  • It allows for self-paced learning, boosts motivation, and increases knowledge retention.
  • It optimises the benefits of both face-to-face interactions and online study.
  • It increases confidence in using a range of online educational technologies like video conferences and online meetings.

What content can be covered through eLearning that was once taught in person?

For example, Velpic’s eLearning platform allows customers to create a wide variety of professional development experiences:

  • Onboarding and induction
  • Compliance-based training
  • Systems training
  • Product and brand induction training
  • Retail training
  • Safety induction and training
  • Skills training for personal and professional development

So, on one hand, eLearning can benefit the masses through a general company induction; and on the other, it can provide an ad hoc learner with a simple lesson on how to perform a specific function in a piece of software.

With the classroom training component, online content can ‘top and tail’ practical hands-on lessons delivered in a classroom environment.

  • Before classroom training, it can provide preliminary training to ensure all attendees arrive on Day 1 with the same level of understanding and comprehension, and
  • After classroom training, supplementary training material can be delivered online to consolidate learnings gained in the classroom.

With the online component, whole learning programs can be delivered electronically (which is evidenced by the ability to complete Diplomas and other formal learning via distance education), then discussed in groups face to face, via video chat or webinars.

With the introduction of eLearning into your training calendar, you don’t have to completely overhaul the way in which you deliver learning to your staff.

In your efforts to “bring learning to people instead of people to learning”, start small.

Introduce eLearning into one element of your training calendar, you will quickly see the benefits, and in turn hopefully you too, will be offering a truly blended learning experience.

The ability to offer blended learning is worth developing in progressive organisations; I leave you with the words of educator Jennifer Fleming:

Teaching in the Internet age means we must teach tomorrow’s skills today.