Learning is continuously transforming, and the concept of “lifelong learning” has been around for awhile now. It is becoming an outdated idea to only think of training as something you ship your employees away to (which costs valuable time, and money).
On the other hand, it also shouldn’t be thought of as a 20 minute training video that you run all of your employees through either.
In our fast-paced world, blended learning has become a popular strategy for instructors to pursue. There are a variety of blended learning models, but at it’s core, blended learning should include a mixture of what we outlined above. It should consist of training away from the office and training from an online program. Both of these trainings should be interconnected and supportive of each other to reap the maximum benefit. If you’re thinking of implementing a blended learning program, here are some steps you can follow to begin:
Step 1: Rethink Your Learning Design and Models
The world of learning is constantly changing and evolving. The way learning is measured is also changing quickly, and new methods are on the rise. In this same respect, the way people prefer to learn is changing. With the upcoming younger generations, we have to think about the most effective ways of training and how we can evolve to enable them to put their best foot forward.
If you haven’t taken a step back to evaluate exactly what you are doing with your learning design – now is you chance. Like the overall business unit, learning should be evolving and pivoting with the changes and needs of the modern-day world. Measurement is key. Other business functions, such as Marketing, are constantly measuring and analyzing. It is no longer good enough to strictly be “creative.” There is an analytical aspect there now as well. This same transformation is happening in learning. So, are you measuring it, and how? Check out how to better inform your training evaluation to learn more about this.
Step 2: Develop or Tweak Your Training Plan
Remember – your learner is your customer. How does your group of learners actually learn and where do they learn? Well, everyone has a cell phone. People consume a ton of information on mobile. If you want to successfully implement a blended learning program, mobile learning (or mobile compatibility) should be a huge component. In large organizations especially, a lot of learning can be in learning “silos” where learning is happening in all of these different places, without a great way to track exactly what is happening, and what is effective. The technology developed to solve this problem is very exciting (we will touch on this later).
Your blended program should have a way to bring all of this siloed learning together, where they support each other, and build on each other. This is a strategic initiative that requires thought and diligence. What will be your learning stepping stones to get to your training goals? Here are 5 steps you can begin with for your blended learning plan adoption:
- Develop your training design and goals in a way to meet the needs of today’s learners and your organization.
- Implement the technological platforms and tools to enable you to follow your design, and meet your goals.
- Deliver your training in an organized way (eLearning + in-person)
- Evaluate and measure your training through your enabling platforms and tools
- Repeat the process and tweak if needed
Step 3: Implement Enabling Learning Technology
An important question to begin this stage is: “What tools will enable me to follow my training design and meet my goals?” Research. Research. Research. You may be inclined to grab onto a Learning Management System (LMS). It’s more important than ever to explore your options, and the new advances in technology.
If you want to evaluate everything that is happening with your learning (formal and informal) then you may want to explore a Learning Record Store (LRS) like Storepoints. The LRS is a database for capturing all of this rich data. Check out this post that goes into more detail on Learning Record Stores.
Part of your training program may include teaching employees how to use a software; and part of it may have an eLearning course component. There are new, enabling technologies that can make your life easier if these strategies are parts of your plan like Waypoints for software training, and Learnpoints courseware.
All in all – have fun, evaluate,and repeat. We would love to hear your stories about implementing blended learning, or provide help in starting a blended learning program for your organization.