Like most industries, learning and development is being disrupted by technology. But all disruption brings both challenge and opportunity. Some blended or online learning approaches can bring significant value and reduced cost relative to face-to-face learning. The challenge is delivering the learning outcomes and changing behaviour we want at optimum cost.
I think most learning professionals believe that affecting behaviour change is much more effective if we can get face-to-face. However that “if” is a big one. Many of the organisations we work with globally, employ tens, even hundreds of thousands of people. It can be very hard to get access to a critical mass of people to make organizational wide change and can be very expensive to get people in one place.
For senior and critical groups face-to-face training will still be a great investment, but also may work well for mass-market training if enough people are in a single location to warrant a local provider. We try to minimize the cost of face-to-face training by providing trainers who work in your region and in major markets worldwide. This cuts the cost of international travel significantly. The greater costs are usually in the travel, accommodation and meals of the participants.
Online learning brings significant cost advantages. For distributed and virtual teams it may be the only way to get a common platform of ideas and models across. In the past e-learning packages tended to be long and inflexible and engagement with these kinds of packages tended to be low – people rarely complete e-learning modules of more than around 4 to 5 minutes unless they are forced to, for example in compliance e-learning. This has led to a lot of dissatisfaction and low levels of engagement.
Luckily, new bite sized, mobile and social elearning technologies now make it possible to get around many of these problems and create really effective and engaging online learning. Look out for an announcement from us on our new products in this area in the autumn.
Blended learning, if it is well-designed, can provide a good reconciliation between these challenges. We can give information on concepts through online learning and use live facilitated WebEx or Lync sessions (or face-to-face if available) to focus on applications, test understanding and ensure application.
The key skill in blended learning is to create highly participative and engaging online sessions. Too many webinars consist of boring PowerPoint presentations and one way transmission of information. We’ve developed a particular expertise in this area, as well as modelling it in our own webinars, we often train our clients on how to create more engaging and participative online events.
The key of course is to match the delivery approach you use with your learning outcomes and any constraints such as cost and travel.
Learning professionals need to be less wedded to a face-to-face way of delivering training and more open to a variety of technologies that will help achieve their goals.
If you’d like to find out more about how we deliver face-to-face, blended or online learning , please talk to one of our specialists.