The Benefits (and Potential Pitfalls) of Blended Learning
In today’s digital world it is more important than ever to engage staff in a fully blended learning experience. With technology rapidly changing our teaching methods need to keep up. That’s not to say that our teaching methods are bad, but we should be integrating face-to-face teaching with new techniques & technologies & embracing the benefits they bring.
So what exactly is blended learning?
Blended learning is generally considered to mean a mixture of learning methods – most commonly in the business world that means a mixture of face-to-face training & digital learning (e-learning). It offers huge benefits to both the employer and employees and blended learning accounts for over 30% of global corporate training and rising. So what are the benefits & why should I be using blended learning?
Benefits of blended learning
It provides employees with relevant learning experiences
When using face-to-face learning & digital learning together employees receive a learning experience which is personalised with relevant feedback. Putting delegates in control of their own learning is very powerful & allows them to access supplementary resources on the topics they feel they are struggling with or want to learn more about. So instead of sitting through long training videos or irrelevant face-to-face training, they can attend the face-to-face training which is relevant to them and see the areas they are struggling with, and then choose the elements online which will improve their knowledge and skills.
It can be fully tracked & employees can learn at any time, any place
Employee training data is available online the instant they complete an aspect of their learning, be it an online assessment or scenario course. This allows managers toÂ view an employees progress and skill development easily. The data can also be used at an organisational level to view the effectiveness of each type of training. Also, with 24/7 access to online training materials employees can update or refresh their knowledge and skills whenever they want to – be it refreshing product details before a client meeting or compliance learning on their commute. And since any system worth it’s salt will allow access to training from any device, including smartphones & tablets, employees can literally learn anywhere from any device!
It provides a greater ROI and overall reduction in training costs
One of the main benefits to a company of using blended learning is the reduction in overall training costs. Employees no longer need to sit through hours of training just to refresh their knowledge on a few small areas. It also means that knowledge and skills learnt during day courses can be refreshed, maintaining the benefit of day courses for longer.
Potential Pitfalls (and how to avoid them)
High costs of maintaining online courses for employees
Whilst any costs associated with implementing blended learning are usually far lower than the increased ROI these short-term expenses can put companies off transitioning to a blended programme. But these are a number of ways of mitigating these costs. Firstly, you need to have an LMS (Learning Management System) that is capable of hosting & tracking the digital side of a blended learning programme and coordinating & tracking the face-to-face side – and it should always be intuitive, modern & user friendly to encourage staff to use it freely rather than accessing it being seen as a chore. You also need to keep online courses up-to-date with the latest examples, case studies, scenarios & questions. This can be very time consuming and often puts employers off but a training company which offers blended learning solutions can help to mitigate these costs.
Unproductive use of technology which is not user friendly
Everyone needs to be aware of how to access & use the technology which is being provided to them, from training managers, to general employees. The best way mitigate this is to only ever use software which has a simple, modern interface with employee training courses readily accessible. This also helps to foster a willingness to learn amongst staff which will in turn enhance the effectiveness of a blended learning programme.
Using technology effectively to implement a blended learning programme for your organisational training has many advantages from a more efficient use of staff time to a greater ROI for employers. There are, however, a few major pitfalls which are all too easy to fall into so you should ensure that any blended learning is implemented by people experienced in it to ensure the result is a company training programme which fosters a willingness to learn.
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