Greetings, learning teams. Here's a news flash: many of you have a super learning tool at your disposal. It's quite nimble, powerful and full of potential.
This amazing learning tool is probably already at use in your organization. You may even call it by its fancy name: Blended learning. Simply put, blended learning uses a mix of training strategies (such as traditional classroom learning and online training) to deliver results.
Before there was ‘blended learning,' there was just plain ‘learning.'
Twenty years ago, corporate learning could be easily summarized by looking at the plastic binders on employees' office shelves. There you would spy rows of training and development handbooks, seminar materials and photocopied manuals. Changes were afoot, though, and in 2006, Saba launched the industry's first virtual classroom. Those binders were fast becoming relics of the past.
It turned out people enjoyed learning in different ways such as in-person classrooms, online classrooms, quick quizzes and in collaborative discussions (to name just a few learning methods). And for good reason: there are some great benefits of blended learning that every learning pro should know.
3 key benefits of blended learning
1. The corporate credit card can take a breather
Great cost savings can be realized by using a combination of online training and other methods. Of course, some in-depth sessions should be taught by a subject matter expert, which can be pricy. But for most everything else, combining different modes of delivery and offering formal and informal content with social groups and workspaces can result in better learning outcomes for less.
2. Employees' communication skills get a workout
From instant messaging with people in other countries to online chats with webinar presenters, the modern corporate worker is used to communicating using a variety of soft skills. The good news? Blended learning methods encourage us to perfect and enhance an entire fleet of soft skills, particularly communication skills. These types of skills are generally not taught, but rather learned through practice. So anytime your organization offers blended learning, soft skills training will naturally be on the menu.
3. We all need more creativity
Today's learning management systems offer everything a learning team could dream of: informal learning, social learning, "bite-sized" video content, gamification, collaborative learning...there is an endless array of ways to learn and develop professional skills. Our brains like different ways of learning!
But what about the blended learning advantages and disadvantages?
It's true-we've painted a pretty rosy picture of the benefits of blended learning. Are there any downsides to mixing up our learning programs with a variety of approaches?
To be completely fair, there are a few drawbacks.
3 disadvantages of blended learning
1. Without corporate buy in, efforts can fall flat
Your executive leadership team needs to be all in when it comes to blended learning. If the exec team doesn't really see the point of methods such as collaborative learning and brief quizzes to help retain worker knowledge, then your L&D team might not have the leadership cover they need to be successful. Perhaps one of your executives has hired the same in-person training group for decades but is wary of self-paced online training. In cases like this, it may be helpful to summon the aid of an executive peer who can help the leader take a fresh look at blended learning.
2. Employees need time and space to learn
The best blended learning initiative in the world won't work if employees aren't given time for training and the tools to learn. Do workers have access to tablets or computer stations in a retail environment? Do busy managers highlight training opportunities? Blended learning, with its creative mix of learning opportunities, is a great way for departments to challenge each other in completing modules or courses.
3. Poor technology training can be a waste of resources
Your organization has likely made a thoughtful investment in your learning platform. Using the platform to its fullest is the best way to protect that investment. Learning management administrators should take advantage of ongoing product training and user groups to share best practices, training tips and innovative learning programs that use the LMS.
Blended learning brings together tech, human creativity and bountiful curiosity in a way few corporate initiatives can emulate. With strategy and purpose, your organization can seize the benefits of blended learning. Let us know how it works for you!