By Saurabh Pangarkar
A Brief History
Corporations and Universities have been relying mostly on synchronous modes of training. The synchronous mode mainly comprised of classroom sessions and sometimes handouts or practice workbooks. Corporate L&D teams tried exploring various form of trainings and leveraging available resources from time to time. However, a traditional setup mostly involved attending classes, reading manuals, or being part of workshops where these operations were performed by a group of learners working towards the same goal. Those were the days when required technical set-up was absent and there was a lack of infrastructure and tools. Bigger challenge was to change people’s mindsets in exploring new mediums of learning- especially asynchronous modes such as eLearning. Gradually training departments started adopting digital as a small part of the training programs.
eLearning introduced several advantages, including anytime, anywhere training, self-paced mode, and the ability to access the training as a first-time training or as a refresher to access it on the job. These advantages enabled eLearning to almost completely overhaul learning and it made way to development of several hundred hours of digital learning modules ranging from a few minutes to several hours. During this digital evolution, the L&Ds and training developers probably failed to chalk-out a thoughtful plan of solutioning appropriate training components and designing suitable presentation strategies.
It was almost overdone and slowly several businesses and schools started realizing the challenges associated with excessive “depersonalization” that was followed. The direction was certainly right, but the approach could have been better. A logical solution to these challenges was hence evolved into Blended Learning.
Why Digital Blended Learning?
Why care about this now you may ask. We all know that blended learning is a combination of eLearning and classroom training. What’s new about blended learning? Let’s find the answer-
Blended Learning is a continually evolving approach. There is no limits on what you could blend. For example,
- A Project Management training program may contain short eLearning videos followed by quiz, and a follow-up hands-on instructor led sessions, or
- A Sales Program may comprise eLearning and instructor-led sessions for the formal learning piece and just in time learning components via a mobile app.
A few more components of blended solution may range from promotional video, eBytes, learning videos, gamified quiz, job aids, and responsive learning.
Learning solutions are expanding at rapid pace. Not everything that you need today must be created from scratch. You can license off-the-shelf content or create shared content solutions.
Learning technology has been evolving, keeping pace with learning trends. The millennial workforce has distinct learning needs. They watch videos, read content no larger than twitter tweets, post articles to other colleagues, rate content, and so on. All of this is possible in formal learning and will become imminent in days to come.
Content curation and self-created content is gaining significant momentum.
There are many other reasons, but these just some of the important highlights that you may need to consider for Blended Digital Training solutions.
Why should we adapt to blended approach? Here are the most relevant advantages for the case.
- Blended digital solutions save time and money as well. A digital module on an average is 40% shorter than the equivalent classroom training.
- Tracking and reporting is automated. When deployed on a Learning Management System (LMS), you can simply leave the participation tracking and grading on the LMS.
- Anytime and anywhere access has several advantages. The most straightforward one is the elimination of any needless travel. Some solutions may warrant a facilitated discussion. Here, a virtual instructor-led delivery could be leveraged. Even if a face-to-face instructor-led training is required, it will be far lesser in duration compared to a full day program.
- Most learners learn once but apply the training many weeks or months later. The Forgetting Curve1) suggests that almost 90% of what is learned is forgotten within the first week itself. So, in a traditional setup, learners only retain 10% at the most and apply only that much on the job. In case of a digital solution, there is always the ability to retake the training as a refresher.
There are several advantages as you could note – enough for you to consider going digital. Where should I start, you may ask.
- First and foremost, I suggest evaluating your readiness to adopt a digital learning strategy. Not assessing this carefully will yield limited or no results. Understand your learners’ backgrounds, age, demographics, and role in the organization. Are they savvy enough? Will you be hiring millennials?
- Identify your infrastructure. Does everyone use a computer or handheld device? Do you have servers and a Learning Management Systems (LMS) that you could use to host your training? Can everyone access the LMS? From office as well as from home?
- Have there been any previous benchmarks, surveys that suggested that your learners have a specific preference towards learning?
- Do you need to measure any relevant data like compliance tracking, certification, etc.
- Do you have sponsors who are willing to fund and implement digital solutions?
- Are there any security considerations you need to be aware of?
- Do you expect any challenges after implementing digital?
Working with a consultant to create a business case that highlights the pros and cons and tangibly justify cost savings will enable you to understand pitfalls and avoid making expensive mistakes. The consultant may also be able to define a success matrix that could be used to measure effectiveness of your blended programs. An important step that will go a long way in increasing user adoption is promotion. If your consultant has extended delivery capabilities, developing videos, banners, articles, and emailers that talk about the advantages of digital learning, could expedite your digital strategy.
Newgen Enterprise is a market leader with over 10 years’ experience in designing and developing outcome-driven learning solutions. With their strong analytical capabilities and solutioning skillset, our Learning Consultant panel can add tremendous value to the learning development.
For any further information and to check how we could help, please write to us at email@example.com.