The fundamentals of good trainings span across disciplines: relevant topics, access to training and learning materials, clearly established learning outcomes and overall institutional support for employee development. What varies the most, of course, is the best techniques to use to successfully deliver these trainings. That hinges on many factors, including the resources of the company, the type of job being done and the subject of the training itself.
Blended learning has become a popular approach over the years in many different settings. This technique calls for real-time instructor-led sessions combined with online modules that employees complete in their own time. Read on to learn more about the benefits of a blended learning approach to see if this strategy would benefit your organization, and discover how technology like TurningPoint can play a comprehensive role is supporting such a program.
Both real-time and online trainings have benefits and drawbacks. Advocates for blended learning believe that it combines the advantages of both while mitigating many of the negatives.
Instructor-led training can only accommodate so many employees at one time. Rooms hold a certain number of people, and that cannot be changed. Even remote trainings need to be limited if everyone is to receive the benefits of interacting with and getting personal attention from the instructor.
Since blended learning reduces the number of instructor-led trainings, and supplements them with online modules, it is possible to offer well-rounded training programs for the entire company that provide important information while still maintaining a personal touch. This also decreases costs, especially if your company needs to account for travel expenses.
With the reduction in real-time trainings comes the promise of fewer interruptions to employee schedules. The benefits of this go beyond improved productivity. Employees appreciate when companies value their time, and are more apt to give trainings their full attention when they do not feel like just another task to check off their to-do lists. It also gives them the chance to dive into the online modules whenever it is most convenient for them, whether that be during a less busy time of the month or at a certain time of day when they feel most alert and ready to learn.
The flexibility that comes with blended learning obviously helps employees manage their time and tackle the development opportunities that they need to succeed. However, companies as a whole can likewise benefit from the nimbleness of this approach. With online modules, it is easier to accommodate learners with different skill levels both before and after attending a live training. Targeted training modules also allow employees to explore a wider range of topics following their trainer-led session, which could be more top-level and general.
On the other hand, even when the online and live portions of a training are more rigidly prescribed for every participant, the combination of the two techniques gives employees the opportunity to breeze through material that is simple for them, while being able to rely on an expert resource should they encounter any challenges.
This is perhaps the biggest benefit of the blended training style. By incorporating live and asynchronous elements, blended learning accommodates different ways of learning. It can also improve employee engagement and boost understanding of the material.
Flipped learning strategies, for example, give employees a first exposure to the material outside of class. When they then attend the in-person or live remote training, the instructor can dive more deeply into the material and have more time to facilitate exercises that develop critical thinking and put their skills to the test, rather than wasting time on reviewing simple concepts.
If the blended learning program is weighted more toward the online side of the equation, the occasional conferences or check-in sessions with a trainer offer individualized instruction, and build upon the strong foundation of knowledge with expertise.
Because of the online component, technology is an integral part of blended trainings. It is important to employ technology that fits the company’s needs, but is also easy for employees to access and use. The TurningPoint interactive learning platform is one technology designed to support a blended learning environment, either on its own or in concert with other educational tools.
When considering what types of technology to employ, here are three areas to keep in mind.
Although the asynchronous aspects of blended learning often take the spotlight, live engagement is critical to reaping its benefits. As part of a training program, live engagement often takes part either during an in-person or a real-time remote session. In either setting, the purpose is to take advantage of an expert instructor who can answer questions, correct misconceptions and tailor lessons to benefit each group of learners in ways that self-directed online modules simply cannot do.
TurningPoint makes live trainings interactive, enhancing learning and increasing engagement in the process. Instructors can insert questions between PowerPoint slides, on-the-fly over websites, videos or other applications, or online via TurningPoint’s web-based platform in order to capture everyone’s attention, gauge opinions and assess understanding instantly. Participants respond using their own cell phones, tablets or computers for both remote and in-person. They can also use a hardware clicker for in-person sessions.
To learn more about TurningPoint’s remote training capabilities, check out our blog, “Strategies for training in a remote work environment.”
The technology that supports the online portion of blended learning has to do some heavy lifting. First, employees must be able to access training modules from anywhere at any time. Second, it is important that the hosting platform supports a range of content – from text and PowerPoints to videos and images – so that instructors are able to build and share rich lessons unconstrained by technological limitations. Finally, there should be an assessment component so that employees and trainers alike can be sure that everyone who goes through the training has met the appropriate learning objectives.
TurningPoint’s online platform allows trainers to build, schedule and distribute learning modules quickly and easily. The modules could be short and sweet, as in microlearning, or more extensive with multiple text slides, videos or even entire PowerPoint presentations uploaded as part of the lesson. Further, it is simple to add interactive assessment questions of all kinds – including multiple choice, numeric response, short answer and hotspot – throughout the lesson or as a summative exam at the end.
The third element of a successful blended learning program takes place behind the scenes from the employees, but is no less important. Tracking completion and being able to review reports showing employee performance is essential to understanding if changes are needed, whether that be additional modules, a different approach to the material or even a need for different subjects altogether.
Because data from both live and online engagements are tracked in the same place, it is easy to see comprehensive data by session, question or participant. This allows companies to make data-driven decisions that strengthen not only the organization but also the performance of individual employees as they move through a blended training and development program. In addition, trainers can review company-wide usage reports from a single, easy-to-understand dashboard.