How to Move from Face-to-face to Blended Learning?

The rapidly changing business environment requires companies to learn more rapidly and flexibly than ever. Hence, no-one has time to sit their employees in classrooms. However, 100% digital approaches might not be the best solution either and many organisations have realised that. Thus, organisations are looking to move from face-to-face to blended learning programs.

Blended learning programs require careful design. Simply digitalising some parts of the content while keeping others in the traditional format is unlikely to yield meaningful results. Rather, we should focus on using technology in meaningful manner, to enable us to make the most out of our face-to-face time and support learning throughout. To help on this journey, here are 3 tips to consider when moving from face-to-face to blended learning.

1. Figure out what is scalable and can be digitalised

We cannot digitalise every learning activity and it’s hard to make generalisations. However, a general rule of thumb that we use on figuring out what to digitalise relies on the foundational research behind “flipped learning”. In summary, the research tells us that knowledge delivery is not necessarily particularly efficient in a social setting (i.e. it’s likely that someone retains more information by studying alone rather than in a group).

Additionally, in this information era, information and knowledge alone are constantly diminishing in value. Our employees have also realised that their time is not efficiently spent attending a “death by powerpoint” session when they could study the same information via a much more convenient medium. Thus, when moving from face-to-face to blended learning, you should try to distinguish the learning activities that consists of simple knowledge delivery and look at digitalising that. This is where the greatest initial value-add usually lies.

2. Start using face-to-face time in meaningful way

Once you take away the knowledge delivery, what’s left? Hopefully still a lot of things, or your learning programs might have been not very well designed in the beginning! Regardless, in most cases, what is not knowledge delivery, tends to be more practical activities, like workshops, discussions, projects, collaboration, role play, etc.

Consequently, these are also likely the type of activities that you should be focusing your expensive face-to-face resources on. The reason being that knowledge delivery or acquiring information hasn’t been a particular challenge for L&D. Rather, the challenge is facilitating behavioural change and getting that learning applied on the job. Thus, it makes to focus your most expensive resource (face-to-face) on the most important task (behavioural change), by creating safe environments for employees to practice and make mistakes. And now that you’ve digitalised knowledge delivery, you even have more available resources to commit to that.

3. Try to embed the “digital” in the workflow

An ever-lasting problem with corporate learning has been that it often happens in isolation, in a silo of its own. When moving from face-to-face to blended learning, the two steps above provide a good start. In fact, the new type of face-to-face activities are likely to automatically become more aligned with the business, since they focus solely on the application of the learning. However, there’s a risk that the newly digitalised element becomes another silo of its own.

The reality is, that we rarely want to create new processes. If we digitalise learning in a way that simply moves the employees from the classroom to their desktops, we are pretty close to a zero-sum game. So, rather than creating new processes, we should focus on embedding learning in the existing workflows. You could use mobile learning to enable employees take up on learning resources wherever they are. Furthermore, microlearning can enable them to use their micro pockets of time for the activities, rather than schedule “learning time”. The means are plentiful, but in the end it’s all about discovering what works for your people and organisation.

Final thoughts

Meaningful digitalisation of learning is incredibly important, if we wish to create value through the L&D function in the future as well. However, many organisations struggle in putting it together. Some learning activities may be better off face-to-face. Some you might even be able to deliver 100% digitally. But unless you go through the considerations from a learning design point of view, you easily end up creating siloed activities with no linkage to each other or the business. We know, we constantly help organisations in making these transitions from face-to-face to blended learning (you can contact us here to find out more). But even if you’re going at it alone, take these tips into consideration. In our experience, time spent on this level of design shells out great returns!

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