How To Implement Blended Learning In Corporate Training
Learning technology and face-to-face instruction can be an unbeatable team, but only when a successful corporate training strategy is in place. Reluctant, distracted, and less than tech-savvy corporate learners are an obstacle that all Learning and Development professionals must overcome, and figuring out how to integrate learning technology tools most effectively can be tricky and time consuming. There are, however, some blended learning best practices you can follow to implement a blended learning program that boosts employees' performance and gets them excited about using learning technology to their advantage.
- Focus on objectives first and learning technology tools second.
One of the most common blended learning mistakes is reworking the entire training strategy and materials to fit around the learning technology. However, the performance goals and learning objectives should still be center stage. In other words, the learning technology tools should serve the training goals, rather than the goals being modified to show off the learning technology tools. Ideally, the learning technology you choose should fit seamlessly into your training plan and offer employees interactive scenarios, simulations, and other exercises that enhance the training experience. If you are using a learning technology tool just for the sake of showcasing modern advancements in the field, then you may want to rethink your blended learning strategy in order to focus on the organization’s objectives.
- Set goals and expectations in advance.
You should have a clear idea of what learning technologies are going to be used, as well as how you will be using them. Are you going to use laptops during the eLearning assessment process to speed up grading and create more interactive testing activities? Do you want to give corporate learners access to tutorials and interactive online manuals while they are on the sales floor via their mobile devices? Above all else, how do you expect your employees to use learning technology to enhance their performance? You need to have clearly defined expectations and performance goals in place before you roll out your blended learning program. Corporate learners must know why the learning technology tools are there, how they can benefit from them, and to what part technology plays in the overall training process. If you are using it as a supplemental training resource, then clarify when they need to use the learning technology tools and what portion of the program will still involve face-to-face instruction.
- Create a flexible implementation strategy.
Successful corporate blended learning strategies are fluid. They adapt with the ever-changing needs of the organization, as well as the employees. Ask for feedback from your audience to get a feel for what is working and what is not after implementing your blended learning program. In fact, you may want to start with a focus group of employees who can test out the tools and materials to work out any issues before the official launch. Also, encourage employees to voice their opinions and concerns in order to fine tune the strategy by building an effective feedback system, such as offering surveys or suggestion forms in order to identify areas that may need improvement.
- Develop effective online assessments.
Assessments give you the opportunity to gauge whether an employee actually absorbed the information, or further support may need to be offered. Though work performance is a good indicator of effectiveness, multiple choice exams and other interactive types of assessment, such as branching scenarios, simulations, etc., take the risk out of the testing process. Rather than having an employee interact with customers or clients without knowing if they have the proper knowledge, you can determine their level of understanding and skill set mastery in advance.
- Research employee needs and preferences.
While the performance goals and objectives of the organization should be a key concern, the needs and personal preferences of your corporate learners are also a top priority. Send out surveys, conduct one-on-one interviews, and observe them on the job to figure out what they need to get out of the corporate training experience. How familiar are they with technology, and what tech tools do they prefer? Are they resistant to a blended learning training plan, or are they ready and willing to hop on board? You will also need to determine if there are any special requirements to keep in mind. For example, are there employees with learning disabilities who might benefit from subtitles, or employees who speak English as a second language?
- Cultivate a blended learning community.
Employees must feel as though they are part of a larger community that supports technology-assisted training. One of the most effective ways to achieve this is by cultivating a blended learning culture that is collaborative and encourages employee participation. Start an online forum where employees can ask questions or communicate with their co-workers or instructors anytime. Develop a social media strategy that gives employees the chance to receive frequent updates and share their thoughts.
- Offer moment of need online support resources.
There are times when employees need a step-by-step guide to completing a work task or want to learn more about policies or procedures. This is when blended learning steps in and saves the day. You can offer your employees “moment of need” support resources so that they don’t have to wait for the scheduled training time. They can view manuals, interactive presentations, and access simulations directly on their mobile devices or work terminals. You may also want to create a website that gives them all of the information and guidance they need to properly use the tools you have included in your blended learning program, as well as supplemental resources they can use to expand their work-related knowledge and skills.
These tips can help you introduce learning technology to your corporate learners, giving them the power to tackle work related challenges and hone their skills thanks to your newly implemented blended learning program.
Now that you know the do’s for blended corporate learning, take a minute to discover the don’ts. The article Top Online Corporate Training Mistakes You Should Avoid features 9 online corporate training mistakes that all eLearning developers should avoid.