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Blended learning — the special on the corporate training menu

Fusion cuisine is a big thing today. You can take shrimp, soy sauce, some basil leaves and sweet potatoes and come up with a dish worthy of a Michelin star restaurant. Or not. Fusion does not always work. However, when it does, it is yummy, surprising and downright awesome with the possibility of turning into a classic.

I suppose by now you think it’s a major overstatement. Well, how about the all English Fish & Chips? It doesn’t sound like an unlikely blend but that’s how it started out. The BBC said so. Could you imagine taking a trip to London today without having this iconic dish?

In a few years, it’s going to be pretty much the same with blended learning. It’s such an efficient and easy solution for business learning that it is bound to become the norm for corporate training. More and more companies are now choosing to mix e-learning and traditional classroom courses; this is due to the mobility of the employees and realization of the many cost saving benefits this method offers.

Blended learning — the special on the corporate training menu

Classic, old fashioned training works but, when it’s done well, e-learning also delivers great results by reducing costs and increasing performance. While the traditional environment is great and definitely adds to employee knowledge and skills, it’s usually a one-time session for a mixed group of people who have to get together on a certain day in a specific location for it.

E-learning, on the other hand, is designed to service large numbers regardless where they are located or what timezone they are in. Moreover, online training includes follow-up conversations and shared experiences in networked communities. Best of all, if something comes up, a new product or service hits the market or there is just one very important piece of information that needs to reach all employees, the e-learning content can be updated easily and quickly and costs far less in terms of money than many classroom methods.

A blended learning plan will prove highly beneficial to employees, as a varied approach to learning will stimulate their interest and increase their engagement, thus leading to an increase in productivity levels.

Still not convinced it is the way to go for your business? Here are some more arguments in its favor:

Blended learning makes for lower training costs

Training design tends to be time consuming, weather it is on paper or online. However, when e-learning is implemented as part of the learning process, each time the course is accessed your company’s return on investment improves because it shares any fixed production costs by the number and frequency of uses.

Companies save through decreased travel, reduced material, and hopefully enjoy improved (and more efficient) staff performance. Apparently, Ernst & Young cut its training costs by 35% while improving consistency and scalability with e-learning: they condensed about 2,900 hours of classroom training into 700 hours of web-based learning, 200 hours of distance learning and 500 hours of classroom instruction, a cut of 53%. As a result, the company decided to develop e-learning platforms for its 100,000+ staff worldwide to access quickly and use extensive learning resources for professional development and advising clients.

Of course, online training is not free of charge; it requires multiple resources and high skilled professionals to design and develop high quality online training deliverables. However, you can keep its cost at low levels by taking advantage of the free educational technologies that are available today.

Blended learning brings together what’s best in both methods

Mixing the classic technique with the newer, digital one brings out the best in both. Blended learning used in corporate training allows employees to learn at their own pace and have the support they require if and when needed.

Using the blended training model will also help break the monotony that more often than not is characteristic of business training. Face-to-face sessions following online materials, or vice versa, optimize the benefits of each; the pairing up of real and digital world allows learners to plan their training programs and work on their critical thinking and problem solving skills.

Furthermore, incorporating multiple learning channels and multimedia into your blended learning for corporate training method will allow your audience to access large amounts of information via a variety of ways, such as videos, podcasts, and more. This helps them to successfully fulfill their different learning needs.

Blended learning makes training more effective

People tend to remember that which is new or surprising.

Pie charts, PowerPoint presentations with bullets that pop on the screen and text that fades away before appearing again have had their time. As for the rain-forest killing paper hand-outs — they are not only boring but totally ineffective. If they don’t end up in the closest trash can, they live long unhappy dusty lives at the bottom of a drawer without ever being read through.

So a video, a funny animation or even something as simple as an interactive drag and drop can greatly increase information retention. Mixing classroom and online training makes for a much richer training experience and helps employees retain the e-learning content a lot easier than they would if they were just offered a traditional approach.

Blended learning facilitates feedback

And what happens at the end of each classroom training session? The classic feed-back form that not only takes up precious time when everybody wants to be out the door and claim a well-earned cup of complimentary coffee but forces the participants to state the one thing they enjoyed most about the experience. Often they will say it was the food just to get it over with. And then the trainer has to collect all that data, process it, make a report, compose a well-thought e-mail to the managers and eventually upload all that information.

Blended learning allows participants to give the feedback in a wider time-frame after the information has settled in and when they actually feel like completing the form. The automated system can then generate a report and send it to all interested parties without any additional time or effort.

Food for thought

Fish & Chips may be an iconic, hearty and delicious dish but blended learning is a wonderfully balanced combination that also lowers training costs and improves information retention. It’s just bound to become the special on the corporate training menu.

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