This blog article was written prior to LEO Learning becoming part of GP Strategies.
One of the best things about a blended learning journey is the opportunity to create a fully rounded experience. Blended learning, by its very nature, offers a variety of learning modes. But in order to create a great journey, we need to focus on how we can select the right channels for delivery, the hierarchy, and the ordering of information. We also need to carefully consider what binds those elements together.
Blended learning journeys will typically take place over a longer period than one-off training, so make the most of this time, add variation, and keep your learners invested. Here’s how…
1) Remember Tempo, Pacing, and Learning Modes
Creating a great blended learning journey begins with the components you put into it. With so many types of resources and learning available, this allows you to build a learning journey that is both highly effective and engaging.
A catalog of eLearning content simply won’t cut it. Resources alone do not make for an effective journey.
In the same way that you would break up an all-day (or several-day) training event with breakout sessions, group activities, workshops, and lecture-style presentations, it’s important to give blended learning the same treatment. It’s also really important to focus on the flow of the journey, and ensure you include time for activities as well as space to process and form connections.
Both the learning outcomes and the engagement levels will benefit from this variety. The human brain is wired to seek novelty, so changing pace, tempo, and learning modes is crucial. For example, you could look to incorporate a combination of:
- Coach/manager touchpoints
- Synchronous and asynchronous learning
- Space learning for hands-on practice of their new skills
- Challenges (individual or group)
- Reflective moments
2) Focus on Flexibility
The variety that comes with effective blended learning should also afford a good degree of flexibility for the learners. When considering the modes of learning you wish to include in your blended learning design, it’s worth considering the types of content learners can dip in and out of—especially if the journey you’ve designed spans a few weeks or months. This can help them to both access point-of-need learning and adapt the learning to their working schedules.
While all learners can benefit from this prioritization of flexibility, it will have a greater positive impact on time-poor employees. For example, employees who’re often on the go, have unpredictable schedules, and need to access a vast amount of information in order to fulfill their roles effectively.
This is where types of content like microlearning or even podcasts can be really useful. Anything that allows your learners to learn while they’re doing something else—traveling to a meeting, prepping for a call, etc.—will be a benefit to both the learner and your organization.
The most important thing is that you understand your learners, their challenges, and what their requirements are for this training before it’s designed. This will allow you to make it as easy as possible for them to do what you’re asking. Put yourself in their shoes and ask whether what you’re proposing is realistic.
3) Extend the Learning Journey Beyond the Initial Program
Line manager involvement and coach/manager touchpoints can bring so much to a blended learning program. This is even more important when it comes to ensuring the transfer of knowledge into the role once their training is complete.
Unlike other methods of learning design, blended programs allow for wider involvement and you should be making the most of that where you can. Whether you employ a coaching model to your training or get line managers engaged, adding these check-ins and touchpoints in the weeks and months following the program can boost information retention as well as assisting with sustained behavioral changes.
Line managers are all too often not made part of the process and therefore find a disconnect when it comes to supporting their employees. Designing manager touchpoints into your blended learning journeys provides managers with full awareness and involvement in the process. This enables them to much more effectively support your learners throughout and beyond your blend.
It’s also worth considering how you can create resources for your learners to access and come back to once the blended learning program is over. For example, access to digital instructions for use of a specific tool or system, PDF resources like infographics or slide decks for fast refresher training, and a clear go-to person(s) for ongoing assistance with the learning.
When designing a great blended learning journey, we have a duty to the learner that goes beyond the product or program itself. Therefore, we need to think of ways to support this ongoing learning in the workplace.