Building a Blended Solution

One of the recurring themes in discussion about traditional modes of training and education is the fact that it no longer meets the needs of employers and workplace learners alike. Laura Overton in an article in Trainigzone (1) made this point:

We have to face up to the fact that the classroom, as the only focus for acquiring skills, no longer cuts it with the learner in the workplace for a number of reasons. In fact, technology has an important role to play in ensuring that the availability of workplace learning becomes more flexible.

It has been suggested that only 10% of traditional forms of workplace training expenditure can be expected to transfer to the workplace(1) In many cases, traditional forms of training are either irrelevant to the organization’s real needs or there is too little connection made between the training and the workplace demands. Even when training or new learning, conducted in typical training room environments did have relevance and had clear connection to the workplace context, there is another problem, the longevity of the training effect. Transferring the training to the workplace can and frequently does encounter barriers that tend to dissipate the training effect within a short time span. Some of these barriers can include:

  • no reinforcement on the job due to lack of follow-up support
  • interference from immediate workplace, such as heavy workload or other urgent demands;
  • non-supportive organisational culture that undermines training and development through neglect or lack of committment about the value of training and development
  • separation from inspiration or support of the trainer once the training event is finished
  • pressure from peers to resist the changes that the training may bring, because it is seen as threatening to the status quo

Add to this the costs of traditional training events, especially when the workforce is geographically distributed is expensive (e.g. travel, venue costs accommodation, etc.). It is also, disruptive and time-consuming. An effective blended learning approach can reduce costs, reduce workplace disruption, save time and provide a better ROI on training & development.It can also address transfer of learning barriers by using eLearning to extend the learning transfer effect by keeping the learners engaged, encouraged & supported beyond the original face-to-face training event, to the point where the learning becomes integrated into the workplace.

Another consideration is that of the demographics and generational differences of those in the workplace. Millennials, (those born after 1980), expect to access needed information from multiple platforms, most of which use web-based technology(4). Web 2.0 applications such as web-based social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Bebo, Flickr, You Tube etc.) and wireless telephony has transformed the way people connect, relate, communicate and learn.The very ubiquitousness of the internet and the world-wide web means that it has become an essential tool of business – so why not use it to educate, train & collaborate to share knowledge.

However, moving from traditional classroom teaching and training practice to a blended learning solution does require a different set of skills and a different decision-making process. When considering what tools to use you need to take into consideration a number of different factors. This graphic provides a useful snapshot of the sorts of things to take account of.

References

(1) http://www.trainingzone.co.uk/topic/learning-technologies/formal-training-room-obsolete/143936
(2) Baldwin, T.T., Ford, J.K. (1988) Transfer of training: a review and directions for future research. Personnel Psychology, 41:63-105.
(3) Vicki Heath, Director of Business Performance Pty Ltd. http://www.trainingneedsanalysis.com.au/Ten-Tips-for-Effective-Employee-Training.htm
(4)“Managing Millennials” Claire Raines & Associates Web site; http://www.generationsatwork.com/articles_millenials.php;

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