With the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the shift from traditional classroom training to online learning was a dramatic, if not an abrupt, change in how training takes place. (It goes without saying that applying the ADDIE model was not a time-efficient solution.) The accelerated adaptation to the new virtual environment had a huge impact on training professionals.
Last year, there was a slow acceptance of the realities of living and working from a distance. The shift took time to adjust to before we reached a new comfort level. The same applied to how training was delivering new skills and information so that learners could quickly and easily improve their skills and competency.
The solution: blended learning. Here are four steps to start implementing it in your training programs.
1. Determine How You Will Deliver Training
The location and delivery of the training must meet the learners’ need and convenience. Can they access the training easily? Does your training department have a learning management system (LMS) that can robustly support remote learners and employees on the go? Do you have the right development tools to create and deliver effective online and mobile training?
2. Personalize Your Content
When designing blended learning, it is important to be familiar with how your audience prefers to learn. Blended learning lends itself well to making training materials adaptable and conducive to the learner’s environment. Be sure not to make the mistake of thinking blended learning is just converting in person-classroom training to an hour-long online course. Remember that with blended learning, learners should have more control over pace and time.
The combination of passive web courses, lengthy videos and non-interactive virtual training sessions is also an ineffective approach to blended learning. To address this misuse of blended learning, address all learning preferences and needs in the virtual environment. For example, a video as a standalone method of training delivery is neither a safe nor a credible learning solution for vehicle-based employees. Podcasts are popular for these learners, because it’s like listening to the radio, and they can consume the information safely. Traditional readable materials, such as job aids and infographics, still have their place in delivering specific and targeted information. These materials are easily accessible and easy to consume.
3. Make It Social
Another modality to consider is social learning, which Training Industry, Inc. defines as “the sharing of information and knowledge among peers.” As Matt Powell of Docebo writes, it “abandons traditional learning models, favoring a more common sense, real-life approach to learning. Compared to traditional formal learning techniques, social learning focuses on how we interact with our peers for just-in-time learning and skill acquisition.”
4. The Final Step: Implementation
The implementation of blended learning must happen carefully and not in a vacuum. Collaborate with your stakeholders, clients and subject matter experts (SMEs) to identify which training content best suits each modality you use. Set up focus groups with your audience to discover their learning preferences. When you’re ready to introduce blended learning to the organization, start off small. Use a pilot group so that you can gather feedback and implement improvements.
When deploying multiple modalities for a single training topic, consider wrapping them up in an online curriculum or program. Neatly packaging the variety of learning materials in one place will facilitate easy access for learners.
Lastly, remember that learning is a journey with many phases and modalities that enhance employees’ skills and competencies. Recognizing and adapting to the continuous advancement of technology will facilitate your efforts to adjust, update and refine your deliverables for a better training outcome.