By Dr. George Haber
Workplace constraints require curriculum designers to make instructional compromises from the idealized training situation. Poorly considered and designed compromises can lead to training that isn’t always practical, efficient or desired. Effective training, which can be designed despite these compromises through smart choices, relies on how an instructor chooses to address the constraints of a given training situation. The path chosen will either hinder effective training (poor instructional compromises) or help you successfully overcome constraints (good instructional compromises).
The best way to deal with the inevitable constraints is to use a blended approach to employee training. That’s because comprehensive solutions are usually blended solutions.
Blended learning does not simply mean “multi-media” or “multi-dimensional learning.” Rather, blended learning means making use of multiple learning strategies and delivery media to ensure the most efficient and effective transfer of knowledge. Its focus is on the design of the training curriculum relative to the desired training outcomes.
When you begin to think of blended learning as part of the design stage, it’s easier to see its benefits, such as flexibility and customization. Taking a blended approach to employee training allows the designer to decide, through careful analysis, which instructional compromises can be made without damaging the integrity of the content. From there, the designer is able to mix, or blend, different instructional methods (e.g., lecture, demo) and media (e.g., face-to-face, DVD) to fulfill specific training needs. He or she can even more easily incorporate new and emerging technologies and instructional strategies into training.
HOW IT MIGHT WORK
Here’s how a blended approach to a training curriculum might work. Consider a mining operation that wants to train all its workers in process safety management. As with any training, the curriculum designer begins by determining the level of competence required for different work populations and how that training will be assessed. Instructional methods are then applied to reach that level of competence.
When considering the most basic training level (onboarding), an e-learning solution may be chosen to quickly deliver general knowledge and awareness of hazards to all employees. Here, the choice of an online strategy could efficiently and quickly train large groups of employees about basic hazard awareness without compromising the integrity of training content.
A more targeted level of training focuses on workers and their need to know how to be safe in their specific work areas. This level of training is targeted to the hazards in their work environment. This requires more in-depth knowledge and robust assessments, requiring instructional elements that cannot be delivered in an online-only learning solution. A blended approach incorporates elements such as instructor-led classroom training, video demos, and hands on assessment.
At the top tier of training is job-specific or skill-specific learning. In our mining scenario, this might include training supervisors and managers on specific process safety management elements for which they are responsible. Again, an online-only approach would negatively compromise the training. However, the online course could be deployed to all employees for basic awareness, then followed by in-depth, small group workshops, or even one-on-one mentoring.
Through blending a variety of methods and delivery formats, organizations can deliver dynamic learning experiences that are aligned with the desired training outcomes.
—Dr. George Haber is the global leader for instructional systems design at DuPont Sustainable Solutions. He also develops training system plans and oversees training product-design processes and development. For more information, access the website www.training.dupont.com.