Blended learning is a powerful approach to make training an inherent part of corporate culture. Not only does it reduce the reliance on traditional classroom training, it also makes sure that learning is an all-time, enterprise-wide activity which learners can undertake at their own pace.
Today’s blended learning strategies focus on how to combine the various learning techniques to achieve the overall aim of knowledge building. The need of the hour is to empower the different kinds of employees by making them self-sufficient and give them the support they need with respect to their unique training requirements. Essentially, all blended learning strategies will have the following elements albeit in different proportions:
There is no denying the fact that classroom based instructor led training (ILT) is essential building block when it comes to driving essential concepts into the minds of learners. The main advantage of ILT sessions is that they bring in a sense of immediacy among the students because a classroom is all about ‘the here and the now’.
If employees are geographically dispersed, online training sessions such as short webinars and live classrooms that focus on single specific topics, offer much support. Personalized assistance can also be given to learners in the form of live chats and interactive sessions. Other web based activities such as virtual meetings and mentoring can help senior executives to keep the vision of the organization shared across different geographies.
E-Learning is a wonderful way to add an asynchronous dimension to a learning strategy. Resources such as blogs, presentations, videos, animations, and podcasts can be used by employees whose job roles demand rapid acquisition of new skills yet do not allow them to be skip work for formal training. Moreover, e-learning can also give on-the-job performance support for technical skills and improve the productivity and turnaround time of their work.
Mobile learning is an interesting concept. The maximum utility from m-learning can be derived by using mobile devices to reinforce concepts that are taught through ILT or e-learning. Bite-sized learning modules that are designed keeping in mind the small screen size are extremely effective in teaching small concepts and case based scenarios, without overloading the minds of the learners. M-learning again, can be used to deliver context-sensitive support and is especially useful for sales personnel as they are always on the move.
Work roles require more than professional/technical experience and qualifications. Soft skills such as leadership, time management, customer handling, etc. are experiential in nature. They cannot be learnt by receiving instruction or by reading. Gamification is an important component of any blended learning strategy as it takes a holistic approach to learning while also making it fun. Other than soft skills, compliance training which is generally perceived to be boring can be made highly engaging by applying the concepts of gamification.
The true test of successful instructional design lies in weaving the right mix of all these elements into a social learning culture. An LMS with social features for threaded discussions, information sharing and collaborative learning is the bedrock of a self-propagating and competitive learning environment.
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