With so many ways to approach learning, it can sometimes be difficult to choose the best option for your organization as there are many factors to consider. Course content, geographic location, budget, facilities, all can influence the method that learning is distributed. Given these complexities, sometimes the best approach isn’t one, but a combination – or blended Learning
Blended learning is a great approach to take for concepts that can’t be completely communicated in one sitting or seminar. If this is the case, it is a good idea to break up the topic into different delivery structures. For instance, you can create an “Intro” course to the topic as an e-Learning module.
This is a good strategy for a few reasons. First, it means that you can save the higher level content for live training, therefore leaving you more time for questions. It also allows participants to get exposure to the content before the actual event – thus decreasing the initial learning curve. At the end of the online module, allow participants to submit their initial questions or concerns. Again, this will enable you to customize the live training so that it addresses the major concerns of the group.
The introductory e-Learning shapes your live training event. You can get a sense of what areas you should focus on and where you might experience some push back. However, live training doesn’t just have to be a bunch of powerpoint slides, in fact, it should never be in a single format. Incorporate exercises into the event. For instance, if you are training on a new software system, create exercises in a training version of the program so participants can practice navigating the system. If possible, you may want to consider breaking up the live training event into two separate sessions, leaving the exercises for a session all their own.
After the live training event, you could send participants one page job aids, or other templates, that summarize key takeaways of the learning. Document all FAQs and create a central repository that can be access online (an e-Learning template would be a good choice for this). Depending on the size of the group and the topic at hand, you could open up an online forum as a place for participants to interact with one another, or to simply ask more questions as needed.
After a week or two, offer participants the chance to participate in a virtual training event. This should be a refresher training of the live-event, as well as an open forum for participants to ask more questions or to make comments. As a general rule of thumb, these virtual events should not be over two hours long as that is a long time to sit on a call, and you’ll lose the attention of the audience. If it must be this long, then schedule a logical break at lunch. Most importantly, be sure to record this webinar and to make it available for people who could not attend. This makes a useful tool for future reference.
As you can see, the particular strategy outlined touches upon multiple different learning methods. Reinforcing the training message through different medium will go a long way to participant retention. So the next time you are planning a learning initiative, explore the possibilities of a blended learning approach. Doing so will maximize learning and reinforce the message to participants.