In “Blended Learning: The In-Thing in Corporate Learning,” Nicholas Goh, CEO at Verztec Consulting Pte Ltd, provides a tip sheet for a well-executed blended learning program:
1) Need for Interactivity - Inadvertent knowledge sharing through informal interactions via social networking platforms (for example, Whatsapp, WeChat, Viber, Instagram).
2) Need for intensity - Intensive multi-dimensional learning environments lead to financial success.
3) Need for Integration - Cutting-edge networking and productivity tools (for example, Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.) that package together computer-based work, collaboration, and performance support tools — the “workspace” of the future.
There are some basic rules companies can apply even before delving into industry- and company-specific customizations. Consider these:
>> Be Focused on Purpose
Some organizations get distracted from their objective in their attempt to make each learning program as interactive and interesting as possible — blending classroom teaching with virtual exercises and discussions on social media.
A program is considered successful only if at the end of it, the organization is evaluated to be true to its objectives and there are sustainable results. Hence the organization needs to keep its key objective top of mind. Is the training objective to convey knowledge, change perspective, or impact certain skills or behaviors?
>> Be Consistent with Reality
Blended learning is meant to enhance the learner’s experience, not to complicate things. Hence, authenticity and consistency is crucial when an organization is mixing various learning systems.
Attention must be given to creating and delivering materials that are consistent and applicable to employees in their daily operations. The learning environment should be designed to reflect the complexity of the environment and to challenge each learner’s thinking. With the classroom — virtual or otherwise — echoing reality, it can only serve to deepen the understanding and application of the learning.
>> Be Interested and Active
While traditional learning programs require active input from the bosses, it is even more so for blended learning programs. Without leaders’ active involvement, blended learning programs can be easily deemed as just another company policy for staff to follow. On the other hand, when leaders actively engage their staff — particularly via the very blended learning channels being promoted — they communicate the company’s commitment to improving and growing itself, as well as their belief in their very own programs. These positive vibes will increase interactions between people, understanding between departments and greater cohesion within the company.
>> Be Flexible and Inclusive
The start-off point and pace of learning for every employee is different. Studies have shown that the best learning methods for each person varies. Thus, to demand that every employee learns at an equal rate is unrealistic — and unreasonable.
If participants are given the flexibility to plan and pace their own progress, it will optimize their own learning and increase effectiveness of the blended program. Hence, blended programs have to be designed to accommodate various learning styles.