Blended learning is Key

97% of disengaged employees say their jobs lack creativity.In the 21st Century workplace training has to be delivered to a multi-tasking, multi-channelling workforce at every level of the organisation. It needs to be accessible when and where your employees want it. It needs to be mobile and agile.

Times sure are changing! The role of the L and D practitioner has broadened considerably to include a far more diverse way of tackling the learning requirements of your organisation. The days of simply booking your participants in to a training program are well an truly over. And in fact, signing them up to a few standard, clickety-click compliance courses just won’t cut it either.

What we are finding is that mentally our L and D clients know this. However, shifting in to a whole new way of providing learning has not happened on a grand scale. There certainly seems to be a bit of a fear factor or a tad of procrastination, perhaps hoping that this is just a fad that will fade away.

Here are some practical guidelines to get started:

  1. It can be confusing and sometimes intimidating to review a whole range of different digital platforms and delivery methodologies. 

Be really crystal clear about what the needs of the organisation are. Run your focus groups and ask the questions in meetings and in emails or quick 2 minute questionnaires or surveys. Besides finding out what people want to learn, also investigate HOW they want to learn. 

Do they ever want to go to a formal classroom? Do they prefer learning on the train or bus? Do they want training delivered to them on a self-service basis? Would they like to learn from the comfort of their desk via a live webinar or virtual class?

Once you have some of this data, it narrows down what you are looking for. You will have a shortlist of absolute ‘need to have’ requirements and some ‘nice to have’ requirements. Accept that no one system will fulfil all of these and this will make your decision a whole lot easier. 

2. Start to do your research and learn from what the providers’ websites tell you as well as from watching demos. Remember this is the 21st Century and you are not prepared to accept any legacy, old-style systems. If a provider tries to sign you up for three years – your answer is immediately ‘no’. The system has to be SaaS – software as a service and maximum licence time, per user is one year. By the time the second year rolls around, there could be new technology in the marketplace and why should you be sucked in to a long term contract.

3. Some basic questions to ask:

  • Is the platform mobile friendly?
  • Will it be really easy to use from an administrator point of view or do you have to attend many days of training?
  • Is there a client strategy / on-boarding person who can walk you through the process?
  • Is there any way of doing a small pilot so that you can test out the response of the users?

Don’t get hung up on where servers are based. As long as they are from major providers such as Amazon or Google, they have strong privacy policies and if the major banks use them for storing some of their data, they are good enough for us. This whole ‘has to be in Australia’ is just irrelevant.

4. Remember to blend! There is no one way of delivering training that makes a difference to retention and to on-going performance improvement. Your survey will certainly indicate a whole rich mix of different ways in which your team wants to learn:

  • Some will certainly prefer the classroom – don’t throw the baby and the bathwater out together. Just consider how much is lost at the end of the session when all people can tell you are their 3 main learning points. 3 after 7 hours?
  • If you introduce Virtual Learning via webinar, remember that you need to be trained in how to deliver in this format. Or it will simply be another ‘death by powerpoint’ and you won’t be able to see the group crying tears of boredom. For geographically dispersed teams, this is an answer to your prayers. Who ever wants to see their training budget to go towards paying for flights and accommodation again?
  • It’s mobile all the way! We touch our phones continually during the day. Take advantage of that and deliver learning in to the palm of your students’ hands.

Your training needs might simply relate to embedding learning after training has happened face to face. There are some amazing apps that do just that – and ensure that retention sky rockets to over 75% instead of losing all that knowledge after 6 or 7 hours of sitting in a room.

. Look at what you are measuring. What makes digital so exciting, is that it provides you with a wealth of data. You know who is doing what and when. You can check levels of engagement and whether learning is being applied in real contexts. This is far more information than we ever had previously and can give you a very accurate and granular picture of uptake and responses to different forms of learning. You will know more about where your spend is going and what savings you are achieving.

6. Be aware that once you have determined how you want to blend your delivery, your content is going to need a good re-mix as well. Generally our content hasn’t been set up to upload into the platforms. It might not be sliced up in to micro-bite size chunks and might not be very visually appealing. There might not be appropriate interaction with the users.

Remember: Modern learners expect their training to be relevant and engaging. Video, gamification and course content in every format is no longer an option, it is now a requirement! You do need to allocate some of your budget for this re-formulation to take place.

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