Blended Learning: The Way It Should Be
March 2, 2015
There’s a difference between cooking and baking. Cooking is more of an imprecise art, tailored to taste. Baking is much more of a science: the ingredient amounts, oven temp, and blender speed matter.
In the training world, designing a blended learning experience is like baking a perfectly golden homemade crust. There’s a science to it. Blended learning is more than superficially mixing together a few more eLearnings. It’s being intentional about the way you combine content in various formats so that your employees can easily consume, retain, and apply your training.
For a perfectly blended learning experience, you need to:
- Let the subject matter inform your modality.
- Embrace learners’ constraints.
- Choose a learning platform that supports blended learning.
Let the subject matter inform your modality
As companies grow, classroom training can get expensive and time consuming. It’s tempting to convert a two-hour instructor-led training into a recording of your slides with voiceover and call that an eLearning. But, it’s not really a 1:1 relationship. Instead of converting the whole thing into an eLearning, you’ve got to take a step back and ask yourself, “What do my learners need to know, or be able to do, at the end of this course? Why?” Then, ask yourself, “What modality is best suited to deliver this content and help them accomplish that goal?”
A simulation video is a great way to model behaviors consistently. A huddle, or interactive group activity, works well for roleplaying and practicing what you’ve learned. Always keep your learner in mind. That’ll make it easy to ensure form and function are in harmony.
Embrace learners’ constraints
Humans don’t learn like robots. We need time to absorb and process new information. To help your learners out, you’ve got to:
- Set a realistic time limit
- Break up content in small chunks
- Engage different senses and learning styles.
Here’s what embracing learner constraints looks like. Say you’ve got an eLearning to teach a new behavior. The runtime should be 15-20 minutes max, where learners stop every few minutes to answer questions in an interactive quiz. If you try to pack in more, your learners’ attention spans will short out, and they’ll have a hard time retaining it all. You’ll empower people to apply what they’re learning, when they don’t feel burdened with information overload.
Choose a learning platform that supports blended learning
Your learning platform can kill your blended training experience. Imagine advertising you have an awesome new eLearning, then making people hunt for it in a cumbersome, disorganized Sharepoint site. Not to mention Sharepoint has no way for learners to interact with their content or each other; they can only watch the course in a vacuum.
Sounds terrible, right? Now reimagine this scenario with a social learning management system in place. It organizes content according to learning journey and gives learners a way to talk about what they’re learning, ask questions, and share ideas in online forums. A social learning management system enhances blended learning, instead of detracting from it.
Your blended learning doesn’t have to fall short. Align content and modality, respect your learners’ natural limits, and use the right learning platform, and you’ll create training that empowers your team to learn more and, ultimately, do their job better.
How do you create blended learning that empowers people? Share your best practices in the comments.