In our earlier post-Learning Series – Crafting a Blended Learning Strategy (Part 1), we had an overview of a blended learning strategy. In this post, we are going to go a little deeper into ‘Why/ of a Blended Learning Strategy.
Why Blended Learning?
Blended learning is heavily favored for three primary reasons:
- Optimal learning strategies – mixed-media learning approaches have been proven to be the most effective means of learning, especially when you are dealing with large numbers of learners;
- Reach and flexibility –blended learning can reach across large areas at any time or (virtually) any place; and
- Economics – done right, blended learning is a highly valuable business solution that can be a very good economical investment.
Optimal Learning Strategy
Numerous studies are available in both the commercial and academic fields that clearly demonstrate that the most successful training approaches are those that involve higher interactivity and use more than one modality for learning transfer. Therefore, answering “Why blended learning?” becomes simple; it is the most effective approach for learning.
Be careful though, blended learning still requires sound instructional design in order to be effective. Simply creating a series of different modes of content does not make for excellent learning transfer.
Reach and Flexibility
Traditionally, training was completed by trainers who diligently traveled from site to site ensuring that all personnel was properly trained. Often the cost and time associated with delivery remained a challenge. Adding on large enterprise-wide training rollouts introduced a great deal of variation due to the sheer number of instructors required.
The face-to-face benefits of training are undeniable, but some form of interactive exchange mixed with face-to face training was required. Blended learning neatly fills that niche. Blended learning also offers flexibility. Considering instructor-led sessions, where participants are required to attend at set times, dates, and locations, blended learning offers flexibility in the delivery so that personnel can attend at their convenience.
A word of caution, though—simply setting up webinars as a distance learning solution without first truly understanding the learners and the business need is not a sound decision. Good intentions without well- constructed instructional strategies can still end in poor results.
Cost will always be a factor in the selection of a training approach. Blended learning requires an investment at the onset of the training. Like most things, you get out of the investment what you put into it. Instructional design steps can appear to be expensive steps that many organizations are tempted to skip. Beware of that slippery slope!
Building an optimized training plan through instructional design is really the only way to go. The old adage “penny wise and pound foolish” comes to mind. Many organizations pursue the false quest of a rapid blended learning solution that skips the details in the planning stages; consequently, the results can be catastrophic. Remember, most companies’ greatest differentiator is their people. Why are organizations in such a hurry to shortchange that competitive edge?
In our next Chapter, we we will talk about Blended Learning Approaches and how you can use them.