​Finding the right blend for training - the evolution of blended learning

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There’s a lot going on in the learning and technology space at the moment, every week new technology is launched or new research completed claiming to provide a revolutionary approach to learning, something that will engage your employees like never before and make them retain more information than you could expect. It can sometimes be difficult to cut through the noise and know what's worth listening to and investing in, or what's just another fad.

Blended Learning - A look back

We want to take you back to basics with a little bit of tech thrown in for good measure and talk about blended learning. Blended learning certainly isn’t a new concept and can actually be traced back as far as the 1840’s, of course throughout time it has evolved as new technology has become available, such as the introduction of mainframe computers, CD-ROM, LMS and the digital era we’re now in. You may wonder why we want to talk about blended learning again considering it’s been around for a considerable amount of time – but with the rapidly changing face of technology and new approaches being created, it's safe to say blended learning also needs to adapt.

Before we get into the benefits of blended learning, firstly we’ll start with a definition from the Oxford Living Dictionaries ‘A style of education in which students learn via electronic and online media as well as traditional face-to-face teaching’. Now we know what it is, how can we ensure we’re delivering the right blend of learning? The hard, honest truth? There really isn't a magic formula and finding the right balance of how training is delivered will completely depend on the subject being taught, logistics of where your learners are based and learners own learning style preference. In a recent research report by Towards Maturity, they found the 70-20-10 model was still very beneficial for learning experiences. Although an industry hot topic for some time, the 70-20-10 model looks to mathematically calculate the proportion of formal training, vs. informal and on the job training.

The 70-20-10 equation:

  • 70% on the job
  • 20% observing others
  • 10% formal training

This approach is a good basis for beginning to decide how training should be delivered, but doesn't paint the complete picture in terms of the tools and techniques you should use to deliver this. The following are a few of the different types of learning formats you can try when building a blended learning programme:

  • Classroom training
  • eLearning
  • MicroLearning
  • Just in time / point of need videos
  • Simulations
  • On the job training
  • Peer-to-peer learning
  • Social learning

It's really important to work out which topics should be taught through different learning formats, there's no point trying to shoehorn a topic into a delivery format where it won't work, just for the sake of having a blended learning approach. The best approach is to work out the topics and understand how and when they will be delivered, through which different formats and then look back to compare and adjust against the 702010 model.

We've put together an example of a blended learning approach for a new starter, let's go through their learning journey in a few steps:

  1. Fred is successful and has landed a job in your company (great work Fred!), the first part of his induction training is his onboarding programme - this is delivered through a series of MicroLearning videos, which he completes at home on his personal device before he's even joined the company

  2. Fred's first day in the office, he's feeling confident as he's completed his onboarding training and has got a good grip on what the company does and how his role fits in. Fred's onboarding also included a virtual meet and greet, where he got see videos of his team and key leaders around the company, so he feels like he's already seen some familiar faces. It's now time to start his induction training and as Fred is working in a call centre, there's a lot of information he's about to learn - everything from processes, to compliance, using the multiple systems and customer service. The training he's about to embark on is 5 weeks, however, Fred won't just be sitting in a classroom looking at PowerPoint presentations, his training is going to be a blend of face-to-face training, a call centre simulation course, eLearning, MicroLearning, peer-to-peer (buddying) and reinforcement tests

  3. Fred's finished training, he's really enjoyed it and is now ready to go onto the floor and take real calls with real customers..on his own! He gets his first call and it's really complicated, so he needs to check how to complete this task, he goes into the LMS and loads up a just in time/point of need video. The video is only 25 seconds, but it shows him exactly what to do, all whilst the customer is on the phone. After watching it he completes the task and the customer is happy

  4. Fred's now 6 months into his role, he's confident speaking to customers, knows the processes like the back of his hand and now feels like he could actually start helping others. Fred has been noting down a few FAQ's he's had during his time here and thought he'd set up a discussion board on the LMS to help other new starters. The post is a hit and his colleagues use the board and add their own comments

Blended learning benefits

The above is just an example of how blended learning can be utilised in a company, but it illustrates how easy it can be to deliver training in different formats, making the learner's journey engaging, interesting and memorable but what are the benefits?

Blended learning has a lot of benefits including:

  • Learners retain information they are learning, often better than traditional methods
  • All learning styles are accounted for
  • Flexibility & good option for home workers
  • Cost saving & time saving compared to traditional classroom-based training

Do you use blended learning in your approach to delivering training? Have you seen effective results in adopting this style of training?

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