We’re always looking for more cost effective training programmes in the workplace; ones which will also address the learning needs of the staff. In recent years there has been a rush to eLearning. Some companies see it as a training method which is “less hassle” for management; or as a surrogate for person to person learning. Would a mix of face to face learning combined with online learning, work better? In short, yes. A blended approach to learning at work has a lot of benefits, as long as you implement it properly.
Get the Blend Right
Why blended learning? There are good reasons to mix classroom based learning and eLearning at work, but you need to prepare properly. Rush to pick an off-the-shelf eLearning package and you might regret it. It isn’t cost effective if your staff aren’t engaged in the process or if it’s the wrong training. You still need to consult, plan and monitor how it’s working. Blended learning can bring out the best in people, who have different learning styles. It can also help your business.
Plan and Prepare
If you are considering using a mix of technologies, eLearning and group classes to train your staff, it’s essential to make sure that you plan and prepare properly. It is important to consult with experts and with staff in relation to the programme you want. You need to know how aware of technology your staff or in-house trainers are. You may need to do a quick assessment of people’s ability to tackle online learning, before embarking on any programme. Resources can be wasted by management assuming levels of tech know how. Support and guide your staff through the idea of using technology in training. Once you have the right tools in place, blended learning is more likely to succeed.
Make it Personal – Tailored Programmes
One of the advantages of blended learning is that it can play to people’s strengths. Some people are not at their best in a classroom situation and find the online element of training a more comfortable setting. Equally there are some people for whom communication in a group is a strong point, but who could really benefit from focussed online learning. With blended learning, staff have a combination of learning methods, which can also be adapted to get the best from them. Tailor the learning for each staff member. It’s important to discuss training with staff beforehand. Select what you both think are the modules they need. Blended learning means that you don’t have to lose time by sending all staff on all training. Team members can focus on different areas of the business online, while coming together for more generalised sessions in the training room, with the rest of the group. Remember that some staff may need to be trained in using technology, before the training starts! If you make it personal, blended learning can really help your business.
When to Use Technology for Training
Don’t use eLearning just because you think you should. Use it because it makes sense to use it. Make sure you have the balance right. Online tutorials are great, but they need follow up with humans. Blended learning is all about using resources to their best effect. Mixing up the learning approach can help keep people interested.
Tech and Teaching – How Blended Learning Can Work
There are some good reasons to look at blended learning. It could be the training solution that fits your company’s needs.
• It’s a 24/7 thing. Staff can access online training at any time.
• Staff can do some of their training at their pace, not someone else’s.
• Blended learning can save money.
• Both staff and management have a clear track of training and development.
• People with different learning styles are catered for.
• Trainers’ time can be used in a more effective way, freeing them up to diversify.
Using technology in training is a good thing, but only if you see it as one of your training tools, rather than a replacement for traditional person to person training. It’s important not to make the mistake of thinking that an online tutorial in isolation will solve your training problem. Mixing it up a little, with a combination of person to person training with eLearning, can keep your staff interested and more productive in the long run.