Whenever we design training, we presume that we are designing to achieve a performance goal (i.e. increased sales, improved customer service, better teamwork, fewer errors, etc.). To achieve this goal, training must have three key components: presentation, application and feedback (PAF). We also know that organizations want lean design in training: get people in, get them trained, and get them back to work as quickly as possible.
Can we guarantee performance results in an abbreviated training segment? Maybe, but performance results cannot be guaranteed on a maybe. When we are faced with tight constraints, we must use a blended learning approach to ensure success back on the job. This is sometimes easier said than done since blended learning is often misunderstood. Let’s review three common myths associated with blended learning so we can separate fact from fiction.
Myth #1: Using different training strategies within the training department—instructor-led training (ILT) for one course, web-based training (WBT) for another—means we are using blended learning.
Fact: Blended learning is using several training strategies to achieve a specific instructional (performance) goal. It can be a combination of both traditional and e-learning strategies. Traditional training strategies include instructor-led training, on-the-job training, self-paced learning, and jobs aids. e-Learning strategies include virtual classroom, WBT/CBT tutorials, self-directed e-learning, and e-job aids.
Myth #2: A blended learning approach must revolve around an e-learning component.
Fact: The core training solution can come from a combination of any of the traditional or e-learning strategies identified above, but it must have PAF. Often constraints make it difficult to accomplish the performance objective in the core training alone so additional performance support activities (PSAs) may be needed.
Myth #3: There is a perfect blend of training strategies and once you get it, you have a template for designing all future training.
Fact: This would be sooo nice! The strategy blend may not be static, but the process for determining whether to apply a blended learning solution is. We need to look at the constraints we have and make educated choices about the best blend to use. Some of the constraints to consider are: the number of learners, where are they located, how savvy/receptive they are to e-learning, what technology is available (for design, delivery, and learner use), the deadline for the course, any budget issues, the type of content (technical, interpersonal, and conceptual), the priority of each task, and if there is management buy-in and support.
So what might a blended learning solution look like?
Let’s say you need to design sales training and the instructional goal is, “The learner (sales rep) will be able to conduct a sales call.”
- The core training solution might consist of a two-hour instructor-led training program that incorporates lecture/discussion/behavior modeling (P) coupled with role-play (A) and feedback (F).
- The performance support activity (PSA) might consist of an on-the-job observation. Within one week of the instructor-lead training, the sales rep would review an e-job aid on making a sales call. Then a sales coach would observe the sales rep as he/she, makes a sales call. Afterwards the sales coach would give feedback on the sales rep’s performance.”
Training is providing the knowledge and skill so employees can perform their job. Our responsibility is to affect performance and to get it done quickly and effectively. By understanding and using blended learning, we can accomplish this goal. And please have a look at Steve’s blended learning in action.