Blended Learning: Back to Basics for a Good Start

As technology and complexity of the world’s problems evolve, we require different and dynamic solutions to overcome them. Nicholas Goh, CEO at Verztec Consulting Pte Ltd provides a tip sheet for a well-executed blended learning program.

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Ultimately, every company is unique. From the challenges it faces to the resources available to solve them, there is no universal strategy that a company can just replicate from another.

Singapore, Singapore (PRWEB) January 19, 2013

As technology and complexity of the world’s problems evolve, we require different and dynamic solutions to overcome them. To develop these solutions, our understanding of the world and the very basis of our learning have to change. In a previous installment, blended learning was expounded as the way forward for effective corporate learning. The next question is “how”. Nicholas Goh, CEO at Verztec Consulting Pte Ltd, provides a tip sheet for a well-executed blended learning program.

In “Blended Learning: The In-Thing in Corporate Learning”, we acknowledged how the arrival of the Internet has changed the way we learn. “Blended Learning” has expanded from simply including e-learning into classroom courses to encompass a much richer set of learning strategies and dimensions, involving a wide variety of tools and support systems – thus making corporate learning organic.

Blended learning also makes corporate learning effective by addressing three key areas:

1. Need for Interactivity

Inadvertent knowledge sharing through informal interactions via social networking platforms (e.g. 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 (e.g. Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.) that package together computer-based work, collaboration, and performance support tools – the “workspace” of the future.

Sold on the idea of blended learning? What next? Well, there is no cookie-cutter how-to when it comes to establishing and running an effective blended learning program (or any learning program, for that matter). Every plan has to be customised to the specific needs of the industry and company. The significance of having a realistic and relevant program that suits the company to a tee cannot be underestimated.

That said, there are some basic rules companies can apply even before delving into industry- and company-specific customisations. Consider these:

a. Be Focused on Purpose

“What’s the overall training objective?” Although a fundamental question, some organisations 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 organisation is evaluated to be true to its objectives and there are sustainable results. Hence the organisation needs to keep its key objective top of mind. Is the training objective to convey knowledge, change perspective, or impact certain skills or behaviours?

b. 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 organisation 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.

c. 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.

Emergency Medical Services Corporation (EMSC), a provider of medical care services to over 9 million patients per year in the US, ensures that its vice presidents sit in on their e-workshops. Employees have commented that it “adds value to the program to see their leaders take time out of their schedules to attend the courses”.

d. 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 optimise their own learning and increase effectiveness of the blended program. Hence, blended programs have to be designed to accommodate various learning styles.

To drastically reduce procrastination – a very real potential problem – constant check-in and tracking of participants is recommended. This can be achieved through creating multiple intermediate checkpoints throughout the entire syllabus, each to be accomplished within a reasonable timeframe. This will help participants learn at their own pace, yet not compromise on the time required.

Ultimately, every company is unique. From the challenges it faces to the resources available to solve them, there is no universal strategy that a company can just replicate from another. Besides the basic pointers above, it will require active implementation, constant feedback and evaluation to ensure the continual evolution of a company’s learning provision methods.

This way, the company can always provide learning programs that are both comprehensive (for company’s needs) and inclusive (of individuals’ learning styles). In turn, this will allow staff to reap real rewards and, eventually, bring benefits and value to the company itself.

About VERZTEC
Verztec is a leading ISO 9001:2008 Global Content Consulting Services Company. Verztec assists companies around the world to design, develop, localize and publish their global communication messages in over 60 languages across various channels. For more information, please visit http://www.verztec.com.

VerztecLearning™, the Learning and Development Solutions division of Verztec Consulting Pte Ltd, is a leader in innovative blended learning and online courses for soft skills, leadership skills, IT skills, business skills and project management skills training. For more information on VerztecLearning™, please visit http://www.verzteclearning.com.


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