How To Align Blended Learning With Business Goals
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Learn How To Align Your Blended Learning Strategy With Business Goals

We know that organizations can increase their key business metrics by aligning their learning strategy with business goals. But do you know by how much? By at least 40%, according to a Brandon Hall Group report! While this may sound very impressive, the challenge lies in overcoming the hurdles in aligning training with business goals. Here are some key questions that might crop up while aligning your blended strategy with the business goals.

  • How and where should we allocate the training budget and resources?
  • How do we determine performance deficiencies?
  • How do we find the perfect blend of training modalities?
  • How should I communicate the training plan to decision-makers?

This 5-step ready-reckoner will give you the answers.

5-Step Guide: Align Blended Learning Strategy With Business Goals

1. Plan Training Based On Long-Term Business Goals

First things first. You need to determine your organization’s long-term business goal: Is it to reduce cost, increase revenue, or ensure compliance with regulations? After that, analyze where you are currently against those goals, and then determine the specific performance deficiencies and desired improvements.

A Training Needs Analysis (TNA) will help identify if training is really the solution for those performance gaps or deficiencies. If the TNA pinpoints gaps in the required knowledge, skills, and attitudes that can be rectified by training, go ahead and determine how a blended learning approach can improve performance.

Let’s take the example of ERP software training which helps streamline processes, reduce paperwork, and improve efficiencies. This in turn helps achieve two very important business goals: reducing cost and increasing revenue. So, how can you plan your blended learning approach in accordance with the business goals[1]?

Here’s a plan.

What Why
Videos by your CEO To convey to employees why it is important to implement the ERP software and the changes it will bring about. This helps reduce their apprehensions about the new software.
ILT (Instructor-Led Training)/VILT (Virtual ILT) sessions/in-person workshops To explain the key concepts of using ERP software. The sessions can also focus on new business processes and employees’ new roles and responsibilities.
Role-based eLearning (simulations) Watch-try-do simulations (on the steps in the process) to help learners understand how the software works and gain hands-on experience before using it in real-life.
Sandbox challenge To test learners’ new skills and proficiencies without impacting the live software. The results can be tracked and evaluated using a Learning Management System [2] (LMS).
Coaching For additional, personalized guidance for those who did not qualify for the end of training assessment.
Microlearning assets As refreshers for what has been learned and as performance support at moments of need. For instance, videos on the steps of using the software, infographics for dos and don’ts, audio podcasts for terms and key concepts, and so on.

2. Gather Complete Information On The Training Requirements

While TNA offers insights for creating an effective training plan, obtaining relevant information on the logistics will help ensure smooth design and development. You need to conduct an audit to assess the current status of learning content, budget, infrastructure, resource capabilities, and timelines.

Content:

  • What are the formats of the existing content?
  • Is the content conceptually complete?
  • Is new content needed?

 Resources:

  • Who will be the reviewers and decision-makers for the project?
  • Who will be the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)?
  • How much time can the SME spare for the new training initiative?

Timelines:

  • When should the new training program be rolled out?
  • What are the ideal development milestones?

Budget:

  • Is your current training budget adequate for the new blended learning approach?
  • What are the areas which would need new/renewed infusion of funds?

Infrastructure:

  • Do you need a new LMS?
  • Do you have a virtual training [3] platform for VILT sessions?

3. Strategize Appropriate Delivery Formats

Before you determine your blended learning strategy, it’s important to consider different training modalities and pick the ones that will be most suitable and effective. While eLearning and ILT (both synchronous) usually serve as the foundation for a blended program, you can choose to replace in-person ILT sessions with virtual classrooms considering the current global situation.

In addition, a range of other learning methods (both in-person and digital) are available that can be used throughout the learning journey: mobile learning, microlearning, videos, simulations, one-on-one coaching, on-the-job training, social learning, and so on.

As a matter of fact, your delivery method in blended learning may not include one, but a combination of two or more, as shown below. (Read more about blended learning models in our eBook).

Blended Learning Model How Does It Work?
Rotation Model Follows a fixed schedule, switching between different training modalities—ILT, eLearning, collaborative activities, social learning, and so on.
Flex Model It is customized and flexible, leveraging online training methods. It also includes group instruction in the form of group activities/projects, individual tutoring/coaching, and so on.
Enriched Virtual Model Uses online training primarily with a mandatory face-to-face component included (ILT or VILT).
A La Carte Model Leverages ILT as the major training method which is later supplemented by online resources.

4. Offer Support For Continual Learning

"Learning is a journey, a process," and to support this, it is important to offer your learners opportunities for continual learning. While ILT or eLearning constitutes a major part of your blended approach, continuous learning opportunities help ensure learning is sticky and available on demand.

You can offer continuous learning opportunities throughout the blended learning program through:

  • Microlearning assets:
    • Quizzes to test learners’ existing knowledge before the formal training session
    • Videos to refresh key concepts covered in the formal training session
    • Game-based learning nuggets to allow learners to practice solving work-related problems/challenges
    • Interactive PDFs, eBooks, and audio podcasts as refreshers

Microlearning is also a great way of offering updates (on changes in the market and industry, organizational policies, and so on) to arm learners with the latest information.

  • Social learning elements, such as eMentoring and online group discussions, to share tips, best practices, clarify doubts.
  • One-on-one coaching sessions that allow learners to gain insights, clarify doubts, understand complex topics in real-time—all this directly from an expert.
  • Hands-on workshops to improve learners’ practical skills along with theory.
  • Mobile learning apps as performance support [4] for anytime, anywhere learning access.
  • LMS apps for offline access to learning resources.

5. Assess Technology Readiness

How ready your organization and learners are to the new technology can greatly impact the design decisions of your blended learning. It will also impact your decision on what can be delivered online and what should be delivered in the classroom. To start with, you will need an LMS to administer training, track and report the learning interventions, be it online or otherwise.

Let’s look at a few tools that will help ensure effective blended learning:

  • Mobile devices for mobile learning solutions
  • A virtual training platform for Virtual Instructor-Led Training
  • Collaboration platforms for group-based activities (e.g., Microsoft Teams, Trello)
  • Content sharing platforms (SharePoint or LMS apps)

Time To Wrap Up

Once you’re done with these 5 steps, it’s time to approach the top brass to seal the deal on your blended learning strategy. It’s essential that you communicate the purpose of the training and how it will benefit both the employees and the organization in achieving long-term business goals. Keeping decision-makers in the loop makes for a clearer vision of the organizational goals and will ensure you’re all on the same page.

References:

[1] 3 Common Business Goals E-learning Helps Achieve

[2] Outsourcing LMS Support for Better Training Results

[3] 5 Tips for Successful Virtual Training

[4] The When and Where of Performance Support in Corporate Training

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