Moving from workshops to blended learning

Many, many of our clients are looking to re-purpose workshop based learning programmes to a blended learning approach. There are numerous drivers. Cost of delivery is the most common one, closely followed by bottlenecks in availability of experts, and a concern around the lack of evidence of uptake and application of learning (“they attended, but what came out of it? Not a lot probably…”.)

It’s not hard to identify what the potential benefits of a blended learning approach might be, but it can be trickier to get clear on exactly how the learning experience should change. Some of the challenges are:

  • Moving to blended is likely to mean investment up front. Many organisations treat training as a cost driven activity; pay the trainer to develop and deliver the experience…. How do you make the investment decision if you don’t have a track record in the new learning experience you’re thinking of using? Especially when a lot of the payback might be quite intangible (changed attitudes, better communication skills…)….
  • It’s sexy, but will it work? The array of new delivery options can be bewildering, social learning, badges, webinars, structured interactive modules, scenario based learning, not to mention you can still keep some of the workshops anyway.
  • How much work is it, and can we support it?

A clear decision making process is critical to working your way through the issues. At the heart of it is the learner. Make a wrong assumption about what will work for them, and your project is almost certainly not going to deliver, no matter how carefully you’ve crafted it. A great example was the project to push job tasks to field workers using smartphones. The technology worked, the coverage was there, but the learning didn’t happen. Why? Older supervisors were threatened by the new technology and discouraged uptake by younger team members.

Also critical is a clear understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each blended option. There’s a perception that soft skills should be taught face to face, not online. We don’t think it’s a black and white as that, but the point still stands you can’t chose the components of the experience just on a personal preference for what you like.

What this speaks to is the need for a proper Training Needs Analysis. For most organisations though, the TNA they used to flesh out a curriculum for a workshop series isn’t going to cut it. Accurate development and delivery cost scoping will be in there, as will some mechanism for measuring the value that will come out of the inevitable investment. For many initiatives, analysis of the capacity and expertise you (don’t) have within the organisation  will also be a key feature.

Like any brave new world though, you don’t get there if you don’t start. Often you’ll build incrementally over time, gradually expanding your blended toolkit as you go.

If you’d like to discuss how your particular programme might be migrated, give us a call.

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