Three Key Factors when Designing Effective Blended Learning Programs
Over the years, blended learning programs have become increasingly prevalent within the corporate world. More businesses are starting to realize the importance of combining the human interaction that accompanies instructor-led training with the efficiency and consistency of e-learning.
But how do you find the right blend for your corporate learning program?
By using a structured learning approach, you can develop an effective blended learning program once you understand the skill that needs to be developed as well as the needs of the learner. To truly account for both of those considerations, there are three factors that need to be evaluated when determining the correct blend:
1. Frequency of Function
When designing a blended learning program, it’s important to take into account the frequency of the task that is being learned. You must ask: is this an activity that a user is doing multiple times a day? Multiple times a week? Once a month?
If someone is answering phones many times a day, that’s a much different situation than an accountant that must do a tax adjustment only once or twice a year.
Incorporating considerations around frequency of function into your blended learning program means you can weigh the high retention rates of hands-on training against the easy accessibility of e-learning to create an effective blend.
2. Complexity of Task
Some tasks just simply need a lot of explanation due to their complexity. For example, you wouldn’t want to use e-learning to teach a surgeon how to perform a specific type of operation—it’s a task that is highly complex.
On the other hand, for someone learning how to use a scheduling tool or entering data into a spreadsheet program, that is an activity that is well suited to digital learning as a whole.
Considering complexity of task can determine whether your blended learning program uses more of one type of training over the other.
3. Learning Culture of Organization
The last necessary dimension is thoroughly understanding the learning culture of the organization. Too many times, organizations turn to e-learning (which is hosted and tracked via an LMS) because they think it’ll solve all their learning needs.
However, this notion is flawed. Take a group of HVAC technicians. These are workers who do hands-on work with greasy equipment in places like people’s attics. They don’t have a desk. They don’t have a computer workstation or laptop; instead, they have a tablet, such as an iPad. And many have never had to take an e-learning course before.
The biggest mistake companies can make is ignoring the environment and culture that employees have been learning in historically. As soon as we interject e-learning into an organization that hasn’t had any exposure to it in the past, or where it exists but has poor uptake, we are now transforming multiple aspects of the business.
For instance, using e-learning in an ERP implementation means you’re not just teaching the employees how to use the new system and probably new processes; you’re also teaching them how to use an LMS and how to be self-directed learners.
For some, these are skills that are unfamiliar and, therefore, become layered on top of the new skills specifically required for the ERP. Instead of just one change, there are several. By considering the past and current learning culture of the organization, you can determine the correct level of instructor-led training versus digital learning to develop the most effective blend.
The authors would like to express their gratitude to Gregory Roth for his expertise in developing this article.