This is a guest post from Sam Harris at Learning Nexus.
Gone are the days where businesses simply herd employees into a classroom to learn. Techniques have moved on to benefit the employer and employee, and the positive results of blended learning methods are beginning to shine through. In this post, we look at 6 key reasons blended learning works.
1. Adding a personal touch
Providing face-to-face learning allows the facilitator to customise the learning towards the needs and requirements of that particular learner depending on their response to the content. The educator can also ask questions to understand the employee’s situation to help ensure the content being taught is relevant and more understandable. However, combining this with online learning can enhance the benefits. For example, if eLearning is completed before face-to-face training, the learner will be able to ask specific questions to cover uncertain but related topics.
Furthermore, trainers can recommend online courses to enable employees to meet their personal objectives. Finally, not everyone embraces the same learning styles, so offering options online and offline to complete necessary courses gives employees a chance to find their feet in their preferred learning environment.
Offering only offline learning within an organisation can heavily restrict flexibility. This limits learners to certain days, times and lengthy request and approval processes. In comparison, online learning provides huge flexibility for both the employer and the employees. End-users can access content on multiple devices allowing them to learn at home as well as during work but, most importantly, can be completed at a time which suits their schedule and fits around their workload.
What’s more, online forums and chat features on learning managements systems allow learners to discuss and ask questions where necessary – a huge advantage compared to offline training where questions don’t often surface until we reflect on the learning completed.
3. Measuring and gaining feedback
It’s becoming increasingly important to allow for reporting and so learning methods are required to produce a sufficient amount of feedback. Using blended learning techniques helps to gain a mix of different feedback formats which can help L&D teams to understand whether it meets their objectives, what needs to improve and how they can increase employee satisfaction.
Classroom training allows facilitators to gain feedback based on how the class has unfolded on the day. For example, was there a particular topic the group found difficult which has highlighted an area for improvement? Feedback can often be gained through anonymous forms which can encourage learners to be more open and honest with their comments but if feedback is provided directly to facilitators in a classroom environment, this may hinder the openness of the feedback but would allow further explanation if needed.
On the other hand, online training allows manger to create specific feedback forms to help them report directly on the matters that affect their learning and development business goals. This will then allow managers to continually measure learning offerings and make improvements where necessary to satisfy employees and objectives. Gaining feedback online also saves time as data can be directly stored in their system and reports easily downloaded. Furthermore, managers can measure usage and compliance online with ease rather than having to input data after learners have completed offline training.
4. Time is money
One of the main benefits to many organisations is the cost savings associated with blended learning. Offline training often incurs large costs due to the expense of hiring professional trainers and venues as well as the considerable amount of admin resource required to ensure offline activities are organised, executed successfully and reported on. Implementing eLearning may require initial investment but it eases up the financial constraints long-term. Many organisations are able to balance the two options and offer blended learning by introducing core courses online for employees whilst still offering offline learning that benefits from face-to-face interaction.
5. Logistical ease
Organising classroom training can often be logistically difficult – locating and booking a professional trainer, booking in enough employees to ensure viability, chasing after employees to guarantee attendance, measuring feedback and inputting data into HR systems to compare outcomes against objectives. These tasks are time consuming but blended learning options in a business eases these pressures by lessening the occurrence and filling the learning gap with eLearning content.
Online training mostly organises itself once set up and relies on the learners to complete their own learning within given time periods with options for automatic reminders lessening the admin hours even more so for staff. This simplifies the process and releases time and resources that are precious to organisations.
6. Breaking the corporate mould
Too often, training can become a bore – monotonous, even - particularly in corporate environments. This can put employees off completing training that could help them develop and achieve personal goals if they don’t feel enthused or engaged.
Mixing up the learning options creates more interest and increases the chances of learners wanting to take up courses, and when they do, they will be more likely to interact and absorb the content that you want them to learn.
Blended learning can help alter corporate culture – particularly for new starters and inductions, as this style of learning can help give employees a good first impression of a business which will help with retention further down the line.
By Samantha Harris, Marketing Intern for Learning Nexus, who became a Totara Partner in 2016 and have successfully implemented three Totara LMS platforms so far this year.