Blended Learning in a Corporate Setting – This Is How You Do It

Many organisations who are weighing on digital learning initiatives make a mistake thinking the digital learning will just replace all instructor-led activities. Often, the same organisations unfortunately overlook their need for digitalisation for not understanding how corporate training needs to evolve. But learning is never an either-or question – it is not black and white. While we can generally be much more efficient, engaging and even interactive through digital means, face-to-face still has value. Instructor-led sessions can provide significant value-add when we use them correctly in a blended learning approach. And here’s how you should do it.

For this example, lets consider approach the learning process through the following timeline of events.

  1. Pre-learning activities
  2. Instructor-led session
  3. Post-learning activities

1. The right pre-learning activities will save you the most money

When it comes to instructor-led training, the unfortunately common scenario is that there are no planned pre-learning activities. Hence, the employees show up for the training unprepared and unaware of what they will be doing. Moreover, the instructor has no knowledge of the skills and capabilities of the learners and doesn’t necessarily know them at all. This type of approach is doomed to fail. The instructor cannot tailor the content according to the group’s skill level which results in too much content in too little time – a cognitive overload. Hence, the learners will become overwhelmed and will only end up retaining a small fraction of the learning.

However, if we use blended learning the right way, we can improve significantly. Instead of waiting for the learners to show up for class, we need to engage them already before. We can do this digitally via surveys, skills assessments, giving access to the learning content beforehand etc. This way, our learners can familiarise themselves with the topics at hand as well as test their own knowledge. More importantly, the instructor can utilise the learning data from these activities to deliver better training during the face-to-face session.

2. Leveraging digital to provide better instructor-led sessions

Contrary to before, now the instructor has access to the skill levels, learning preferences and histories of all the participants. Hence, the instructor is able to provide much more personalised learning by tailoring the content to the audience’s skill level. Whereas previously the instructor would have to cover everything in a short amount of time, now he can focus on the areas that the learners have the skills gaps in. The face-to-face activities naturally transform into interactive workshops and social learning activities rather than lectures. It’s a waste of time to train things that people already grasp perfectly well. Consequently, the face-to-face sessions can be much shorter and less frequent. As face-to-face training is expensive for the company in terms of productivity lost, you can gain immediate financial benefit through this approach.

3. Effective blended learning requires post-learning activities

By leveraging digital learning components to deliver better physical training activities, the instructor has already improved the results. You might feel like the mission has been accomplished, but the learning doesn’t stop there. Learning is a process rather than a transaction – we increase our knowledge incrementally by continuing exposure over time. Hence, you should not forget the post-learning activities, as they play a major part in how much of the learning “sticks” for the long-term.

Naturally, the core of the training content should have been digested already. If you leave major parts of the core content to be independently consumed after the instructor-led session, you will likely push your learners to cognitive overload once again. Rather, the post-learning activities should consists of small refreshers and short pieces of top-up content building on the core. A microlearning approach is perfect for rolling out small learning nuggets and gradually updating the already existing core knowledge.

Also, the post-learning phase is a great time to roll out additional assessments, quizzes, surveys and to collect feedback. Ideally, you could build the post-learning assessment to mirror the pre-learning assessment. Hence, you would be able to directly see the impact that the training has had. It’s always important to collect feedback from the learners as well. A comprehensive approach to feedback ensures that you have the insights to provide more personalised learning in the future.

Have you leveraged digital to deliver effective blended learning? If you’d like to dive deeper into the best practices of combining digital learning with face-to-face, drop us a note. We are happy to share more ideas.