“We need to embrace technology to make learning more engaging. Because when students are engaged and they are interested, that’s where learning takes place.” – Unknown
Think back to a lesson or training course where you felt you learned very little. Why was that? How was the lesson taught? Perhaps you’re thinking back to a college classroom where you might have listened to a lecturer laboriously ploughing through bullet points from a Powerpoint presentation for hours on end. Or perhaps you were handed a thick file of heavy, bland content and paper assessments on the first day of training for a new job. Just as the quote above strives to point out: a lack of interest and engagement creates a barrier between the learner and the learning process.
Keeping the above quote in mind, how then can technology be used to drive learner engagement? How can you incorporate digital learning into your L&D to inspire a group of enthusiastic and interested learners rather than be met with a classroom full of glazed eyes and scratched heads?
You will frequently have heard the term blended learning used as a buzzword when discussing the development of an effective L&D programme. Research shows that the top performing training teams are four times more likely to both blend technologies into their learning solutions and to involve classroom trainers in using it to engage learners. But what is blended learning? Blended learning is defined as “a formal education program” in which a learner “learns at least in part through online delivery of content and instruction with some element of student control over time, place, path or pace.” In other words, it’s a programme where the learner can combine traditional learning with online learning which they can complete in their own time, whenever and wherever suits. It results in a more personalised, proactive and time-efficient experience when compared with a one-size-fits-all, intensive, traditional learning course.
It’s no wonder that more and more businesses are integrating digital learning into their L&D offering. Some of the many advantages of a blended approach include:
By cutting the amount of time needed to train employees face-to-face, productivity in the workplace is increased.
Reliance on manual resources is reduced, cutting any costs previously spent on printing.
Taking on board individual learner needs enables a more customised learning journey that’s more relevant to them.
Learners can identify where their strengths lie and what they need to work on to bridge any gaps in their learning.
We understand that not everyone is keen to take the plunge into blended learning right away, despite proven positive results. Initial costs need to be considered and options explored.
To help you in your decision to make the leap, we’ve come up with these five key tactics for making digital learning work in your organisation:
1. Understand your people
The most important place to start is with the people themselves. What is their appetite for learning? What ways of learning do they find most effective? What are their ‘pain points’? Knowing what works and what doesn’t is a key influence for a successful L&D programme. Put out a questionnaire or just talk to your learners to better understand their attitudes, beliefs and needs. You may be surprised at what you find.
2. Phase in new modes of learning, one at a time
It may be tempting to roll out everything in one go, but this may overwhelm the learner (and the admin team!). Prioritise the big wins (such as an informal learning library) to build support as you go, proving the value of each new mode before introducing the next.
3. Maximise engagement
As well as listening to your learners, you should also respond to their needs. Once you’ve identified where need is highest, focus on the content and encourage learner-led journeys. It is proven that moving away from prescriptive and formal learning models improves learner engagement and helps foster a learning culture. If you can demonstrate to your learners that they have co-constructed the solution, this will help to improve buy-in and engagement.
4. Get your practitioners on side
Who needs to drive your blended activities? Your practitioners, that’s who. Through effective support and incentivisation, your existing training staff, subject matter experts and practitioners can embrace digital and become your champions. It is these people who will be indispensable to the rollout and on-going success of your blended solution.
5. Share your positive results
Modern digital platforms provide a broad range of of data so you can report on the stats that are meaningful to you. Bear in mind that other stakeholders in your business will also be expecting positive results, such as ROI. If you’ve got your strategy right and the positive results really begin to show, don’t be afraid to shout about it! Positive feedback can be shared with your community to drive further engagement.
When it comes to the traditional face-to-face or digital learning debate, why not combine the best of both worlds? Blended learning paves the way to L&D that’s accessible, relevant, measurable and still allows coaches and mentors to engage with learners on a more personalised level. It’s learning that’s results-driven and efficient right from the start.
We're always exploring key trends in the learning and development world, so keep an eye on our blog and social media channels to see when new insights are published: