Much has been written about the optimum method for workforce learning. Some people still believe that face-to-face training in a classroom environment is best for engaging the learner and in fact, 56% of training is currently delivered this way*. Others feel that, with the growing trend towards all things digital, delivering learning using the latest technology is the better method, with 22% of companies currently doing so*.
But does a single learning method produce the best results? There are many considerations when creating any learning programme, including the needs of the learners, their existing knowledge, preferred learning styles and location, as well as the organisation’s objectives and infrastructure. Only once these factors have been explored can the best delivery method be identified. There is not a one-size-fits-all solution but taking a singular approach is often not the answer.
And this is where blended learning can help.
According to industry commentator Clive Shepherd, blended solutions “combine contrasting learning methods and media in order to maximise effectiveness and efficiency.”
As well as eLearning and face-to-face training, blended learning can also incorporate virtual learning environments (virtual classrooms), providing tools for real-time communication such as video conferencing, chat rooms, instant messaging, VOIP as well as asynchronous learning tools such as social media, email, forums, blogs and podcasts.
At eCom Scotland, we are strong advocates of blended learning (common practice amongst 22% of organisations) and believe there are numerous advantages - here are our top six:
- By using blended learning an organisation can get the most out of their classroom training investment. Online learning can be completed first to prepare learners on subjects that are then explored in more detail during face-to-face training – an approach used by Howden for their engineering training. Alternatively learning can start with classroom sessions and be followed up with online learning to provide more tailored options and reinforce learning. This technique is used by Georgia Southern University for their teacher education programme.
- With content delivered using a variety of formats, whether that be video, gamification or interactive scenarios, there is more opportunity to catering for different learning styles, resulting in improved engagement.
- Different people learn at different speeds, depending on their capacity to process new concepts and ideas. The online learning components of a blended programme mean that the needs of those who absorb the material quickly, as well as those who require more time, can be simultaneously addressed without impacting on the learning of others.
- Blended learning programmes offer a range of opportunities for social learning. As well as the interaction available in the classroom there is the potential for ongoing interaction through online discussion boards, social tools like Twitter, and custom-built community tools in an organisation’s learning management system. Andrew Carnegie Business School have created a blended programme which has online forums for student and tutor interaction.
- By selecting the right learning format for different content you can potentially make better use of your trainer’s time. Some learning objectives may be best achieved with online self-study content while others may require face-to-face sessions with a skilled instructor. NHS Education for Scotland structured their One Out Of Four programme using workshops to cover the most challenging content.
- A blended learning approach is likely to reduce costs when compared with face-to-face training. Once online resources are created they can be used repeatedly and time out of the office and travel costs will both be less.
At eCom Scotland, we specialise in creating blended learning solutions for organisations via a consultative, partnership approach. With our instructional expertise and technical capabilities, you can create the perfect blend to address your learning requirements. Our solutions also enable social learning and gamification, and can be extended to include evidencing of learning and digital badging to reward the learner.
Contact eCom today to find out more about how we can help you implement a blended learning programme in your organisation.
*from Towards Maturity 2016 Benchmark