Blended learning has proved it’s not an L&D fad but an organic development in the business world. This approach to corporate L&D is the right answer to the demands of a very dynamic (and often unpredictable) business environment, as well as to the changing needs and expectations of the modern learner.
The most obvious benefit of blended learning is that it allows learners to actively engage with content in various ways. This is great for giving them a sense of freedom and self-direction while encouraging greater understanding and higher engagement.
While it sounds like a good plan, implementing blended learning in your organization might have some hurdles. Here are some of the most frequent ones with tips on how to overcome them:
Money is always an issue
Organizational change has a cost. When we talk about blended learning, the financial toll can be more or less substantial depending on how much the company has already invested in learning technologies and IT infrastructure. Outdated learning management systems (LMSs) can become obstacles rather than assets, and replacing them can be rather pricy.
Read more: When it’s time to let go of an LMS
The key to “selling” a blended learning approach is to present it as an investment. It’s important to show the long-term benefits and how this transformation will translate into positive business outcomes. Even if it’s impossible to put a number on it, make sure to outline the benefits.
Getting leaders on board could be a challenge
Change usually means disruption of business as usual. While leaders are generally swayed when the decision to transform something is rooted in the business outcomes, it’s not so easy when the shift concerns people.
There may be several counterarguments, from “But we have such good results with what we are doing now” to “Switching to blended learning sounds very impersonal, and we may lose all control over what people do for their development”.
The best way to prove that this is the future is to implement pilot programs. Then you can showcase the results and the feedback they get. Ultimately, if leaders look at learning from an employee’s perspective, they will see how blended learning can positively impact the organization.
Effective marketing always sells
It’s absolutely normal to be met with resistance when you try to implement any sort of transformation. That’s how people function. Therefore, employing some effective marketing techniques when “selling” the change is a good idea.
Think of it this way: you know that brushing your teeth is necessary for good oral health. Yet no marketer in the right mind will try to sell you toothpaste by saying, “you know you need this; buy it.” They will show you pictures of people with white and straight teeth, videos that give you an overall feeling of happiness and health. And then you’ll feel good about buying the toothpaste.
The same goes for promoting blended learning in the organization – to executives and employees as well.
Promote communities as a way to overcome the remote effect
A blended learning approach needs to have an online infrastructure. This is great since it can be accessed remotely by employees working in various geographical areas. It's also a flexible and self-directed approach, but it’s rather detrimental to a feeling of togetherness.
To counteract that, it’s important to build communities of practice. They foster a sense of connection by encouraging employees to share knowledge and experiences. The traditional workplace is becoming virtual, so this is very important.
Even if it takes effort and excellent organizational skills to set up communities of practice for geographically dispersed employees, the benefits are worth it. Within these communities, L&D specialists can deliver both formal and informal education, host learning events (such as conferences or workshops), and help build healthy workplace relationships.
Encourage informal learning
Informal learning happens constantly. The internet has allowed us to access a lot of resources. While the question of quality and authenticity is indeed a valid one, there are still more advantages than downsides. People are getting knowledge when they need it and from various sources.
Quantifying informal learning in a corporate context is not yet possible, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be recognized and strongly encouraged. This can be achieved by supporting the communities of practice, setting up discussion boards, and encouraging sharing within teams and even transversally.
We are obviously in the throes of the digital revolution, and things will continue to evolve rapidly and shape the world we live in. As learning professionals, we need to stay connected as much as possible to these transformations and meet them head-on. After all, we're doing our best to implement what’s optimal for the organization even if we might be met with some resistance along the way.