(Originally published on Elearning Industry)
Blended learning has been a way for companies to take advantage of the best of both worlds – the efficiency and low cost of online training with the hands-on experience of in-person or on-the-job training, or other traditional methods of learning.
But training innovation has enabled us to utilize endless methods of learning – from microlearning to gamification. It can be overwhelming to try and decide what the best form of training delivery is for your organization.
So what factors should you focus on when exploring which blend of training types is most appropriate for the course or learning program you’re developing?
What are My Goals for Blended Learning?
Before you get started, be sure to know what your exact goals are for your program so that you can achieve them. Do you want to save money spent on training? Do you want to improve the quality of the training? Make sure to write down your priorities to guide you in your decision-making.
What Technology is Available to My Employees?
If you have an LMS, what are the capabilities of it? Do you have the budget to invest in one, or to upgrade to a higher-end LMS that adapts to all the needs of your training program and can scale with your business?
The limitations of the LMS you use will strongly affect the types of learning that you can deliver to your employees. Even if an LMS does deliver video or utilizes gamification features, make sure it is user-friendly so your employees will be eager to engage.
You also need to consider the technology available to your employees – if they are in the field all day, or work from home, will they have access to fast computers to complete advanced games or interactive quizzes?
Similarly, you’ll want to consider how mobile-friendly you need to make your courses. Mobile learning is one the rise – 40% of people rely primarily on their smartphones – so investing in mobile-friendly learning may be a need for your company, especially if you have an on-the-go workforce.
Augmented reality simulation is an exciting and trendy method of learning, but not all employees may have access to the equipment or physical space to devote to such a technologically advanced learning method.
What are My Employees’ Learning Preferences?
Based on the demographic or skillsets of your employees, they may have specific training preferences. Some employees will not enjoy gamification features or courses at all. However, others might learn nothing if you ask them to sit in a classroom.
Depending on how in touch you are with your employees’ day to day lives, you might not have a full understanding on how blended learning and training can fit into their schedule or what delivery methods are possible for them to interact with.
For example, while a weekend seminar may seem like a networking opportunity and a place for hands-on learning, employees may not be receptive to taking a full weekend to travel away from their families for training purposes.
Similarly, it could be wishful thinking to ask employees to fit forty-minute lectures into their day depending on how their day is structured. Some workers may only have five minutes here and ten minutes there. They may need learning content that is organized into small bits, a.k.a. microlearning.
That’s why looking at generalized research is not enough – ask your own employee base what they would like to see in a training program and what they can imagine working for them.
How Will I Evaluate the Program?
Metrics and measurement is something that needs to be incorporated into the planning of a program for it to be fully successful. Make sure you know how you will streamline the collection of data from different methods of learning as your employees move forward in their training.
Some LMS software makes it easy to collect results of different training by including the ability to upload outside certificates and use Learner Record Stores to record training done in different places on the web. These LMSs can also streamline analysis by using automatic data collection and reports.
Make sure the training delivery methods you use are compatible with however you intend to collect metrics for gauging the success of your program.
Developing a blended learning program can be complex but rewarding. There are a lot of moving parts, but in the end, you can have a training program that really suits the needs of your company and that will hit just the right amount of cost and flexibility for your employees. You may also find that it’s more effective and engaging than previous programs if you keep in mind your goals, technology, employee learning preferences, and evaluation method.