Ever since online training made an appearance on the corporate training scene, several companies jumped the bandwagon and replaced their expensive instructor-led training with online training modules and simulations. Only to revert to traditional teaching methods after meeting with various degrees of failure.
These expensive experiments brought home the fact that not all technology in the world, be it a computer course or a robust learning management system (LMS), can replace the effectiveness of the tried and tested face-to-face training in traditional classroom settings. Yet, online training has its own share of benefits which organisations can only ignore at their own peril. So, the question is how to make the best out of both worlds — the old and new training approaches? The answer lies in creating blended learning environment.
Blended learning refers to the use of both online and traditional learning methods by corporates and educational institutions to impart knowledge and upgrade skills and capabilities of the end-learners.
This is by far the ideal approach to learning as it encompasses the best of both. Instructor-led training (ILT) allows the learners to interact with the instructor, clarify their doubts and gain individual attention. Online learning, on the other hand, is self-paced learning that provides them the flexibility to learn where they want and when they want and revisit the concepts as many times as they want till, they are completely proficient.
Needless to say, blended learning is more effective and various case studies conducted in this context have found that this form of learning improves learning outcomes more than online or instructor-led training on their own. In fact, more than 70% of LMS users are now taking this route to education and training. Here’s more on why you should Switch to Blended Learning for Better Learning Outcomes
It doesn’t work in the employees’ favor if the online and offline learning environments are separated in silos. Such a scenario fails to create a cohesive blended learning environment and experience. To avoid this loophole, LMS vendors aim to provide a seamless learning experience with functionality that adds to class-room sessions and takes learning to the next level. There are several features in an LMS that support blended learning.
Here, in this article we look at ways how you can leverage your LMS to create a blended learning environment.
1. Instructor-Led Training (ILT) Management: With this system, instructors can schedule a time and place for in-person training within their LMS. Employees can register for these sessions or instructors can assign who has to attend. Leading up to the session, employees can see the agenda for the training session, what it will cover, what, if anything, they have to bring along and in case they have to do some homework to better follow the training module. The instructor, on the other hand, can see who all are attending the session. Here are Best LMS Features and LMS Tools for Mid-Sized Enterprises
Unlike other eLearning modules that can be taken by the learners at their own convenience, an ILT session in a classroom ensures that all learners are at the same level. ILT management thus ensures that within an LMS while both the instructor and employees have the flexibility towards achieving certain learning outcomes, they remain on schedule and on the same page with both their online and offline learning schedules. Here are the Benefits of a Mobile-First LMS Platform in Employee Training
2. Virtual Classroom Functionality: This functionality in an LMS allows learners to log-in and remotely attend instructor-led lessons. A virtual classroom includes features such as audio/video streaming and embedded chats that allow learners to participate in the ILT session and ask questions. Then there are other tools such as whiteboards and media streaming that allow smooth communication between the teacher and the learners.
These sessions can also be recorded and shared later with those who could not participate in the session. Virtual classrooms are of great use to businesses of all sizes as it can be difficult to tear people away from their desks into a classroom for training. Besides, it’s a great way to provide ILT to remote employees.
3. Collaboration Tools: Within an LMS or an offline ILT session, trainers can set up discussion boards where they can discuss course content, ask questions, provide answers, share related resources, and in sum, add more interest to the chapter under discussion.
Learners can also rate the courses, thus, giving crucial feedback to the instructors which they can use to further improve the effectiveness of their courses. These collaboration tools mirror the social media tools and support interactivity through feeds and comment threads and facilitate discussions and ongoing learning long after the class is over.
How to Guide:
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4. Customize Learning Paths: Instructors can use learning paths to customize a series of courses to help employees achieve competency in certain areas. These paths can be for the whole group or individual learners. They include assessment tools that allow learners pass an online assessment based on an ILT or offline course and based on that, progress from one level to another. Here’s more on How to Create Content for a Blended Learning Model
The benefit of these learning paths is that they allow the learners to connect the dots and view disparate eLearning and classroom training modules as a cohesive whole. Besides, instructors can change the pace of these learning paths based on the complexity of the modules, or whether the target groups or individuals are going ahead or falling behind the goals. Here are the Benefits of Investing in Custom eLearning Courses for your Enterprise.
5. Analytic Tools: These tools in an LMS allow the course administrators to gauge the effectiveness of their training courses. Here’s more on How to Use Blended Learning for Corporate Training. Analytic tools collate and analyse data such as pass/fail rates etc., and present it in the form of infographics, reports and diagrams for the administrators to study and gain insights.
With this data, they can understand the areas to focus, adjust their classroom instruction to plug knowledge gaps, spend more time on certain topics, and provide more individualized attention to those lagging behind.
While blended learning is now the way forward in employee training, it is important to note that each organization is different and there is no one-size-fits-all approach they can take. Getting it right is something that is going to take time, patience and strategic planning to arrive at the best way to use your online and offline resources. Here’s more on how to know if Blended Learning the Right Approach for Your Enterprise?
Once you know what to impart and how to impart, conduct an in-depth research of various LMS vendors who specialize in your area of industry and have the right combination of knowledge, skills and expertise to create a blended learning environment tailored to your needs. Remember, the success of your blended learning will rest on a solid foundation of technology, so choose your LMS vendor wisely if you are looking for a new system. Here’s more on how to How to Select the Right LMS Vendor for your Goals