The right recipe
Much has been made in recent times of the need to provide blended learning solutions. The 'good old days' of simply moving a group of managers off to a hotel for a couple of weeks and so ticking the box for training, seem to be thankfully past. The message of 'blended' is appropriateness and cost effectiveness, and that is a definite step in the right direction.
But what does an effective true blended learning solution actually look like? For many businesses it is perhaps a case of a pre-course questionnaire followed by a classroom session, or perhaps a pre or post-course e-learning module. That is a good start, but a true blended approach can be very powerful. However, it needs a little thinking through.
The first question is about what methods of training are effective at making blended learning work, and for whom? In 2017 the Brandon Hall Group have produced an excellent report on this (see report here)
The most striking findings for me were:
- Classroom training still has one of the highest effectiveness ratings, outpaced only by personal coaching / mentoring. In other words, remote learning is becoming more popular, but may lag in the effectiveness stakes.
- Senior leaders get disproportionately more of the training budget. When the critical individuals in many delivery projects are the project managers, it makes some of us wonder where the spend should be?
- An e-learning module is the most expensive thing to create, a video the cheapest thing to make.
If we took these three lessons alone, it may help us form a blended approach which has quite an impact.
The first point would be to figure out where the business is hurting, and which skills will have most business impact. There are skills shortages for all of us. At the time of writing, Carillion has folded largely due to several unprofitable major construction projects. Cashflow was also badly hit due to bad debt from the Middle East. With that wonderful benefit of hindsight, perhaps my comment in point 2 above has some merit and more attention could have paid to Commercial and Project Management skills development. In fact, Carillion was a major client of ours for many years, and we were privileged to work with superb Project Managers and Commercial leads. It’s obviously a great sadness that their skill set was not duplicated.
Make sure you have the right combination of ingredients for successful blended learning and see the return on investment rise.
The next point would be to figure out the most cost effective / best impact approach. E-learning is great, (especially at tracking and certification) but very complex to develop. So, I would suggest using ‘off the shelf’ packages for generic skills, e.g. Health and Safety. When it comes to tailored skills, e.g. company specific management training, then go for video and classroom with follow up coaching.
Video is so quick and easy to make, especially with current smartphone technology. Leaders in the organisation can share their experiences by video in a lively an interesting manner. How about watching a video per week from senior management about hints and tips on decision making, or problem analysis, or appraisals, or any other management topic. Or perhaps try using those videos within the classroom for discussion. How about getting participants on events to summarise their learning in a video for their teams, in order to pass the knowledge on?
Mark Miller is MD of Goodfoot, and author of 'Hamsters Can't Dance", a tongue in cheek look at management challenges.
Classroom still scores highly for impact, and in L&D we are used to measuring that impact and choosing good solid suppliers. But I feel there is a lot of scope to follow-up the classroom training with specific coaching. This could be done by the supplier, or in-house. As a result of the training, each participant could identify the areas on which they would like further coaching support, and with modern technology this support can be done remotely. I recently coached a manager in Oman by Skype on his bid presentation skills, we made good progress, and how cost effective is that?
So as a quick guide to blended learning, try a Video / Class Room / Coaching package. It will hit most of the cost and effectiveness buttons and help provide a successful blended learning package for staff and managers.
With Blended learning in mind, we have several free e-Books and e-Briefs if you wish to use them for internal training purposes. Feel free to follow the link below for some samples.