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Stephanie Morgan

Bray Leino Learning

Former Director of Learning Solutions

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Busting four blended learning myths


Recent years have seen a rise in organisations reducing their use of face-to-face training in favour of a blended learning approach. However, Towards Maturity reports that only 22% of learning is delivered through fully blended solutions, and while this is has grown in recent years, there is still room for improvement.

At Bray Leino Learning, we believe blended learning is the answer to your prayers if you want fresh, focused, agile learning that focuses on performance. But what is stopping more organisations from taking the leap? Stephanie Morgan breaks apart a few of the myths surrounding blending to get you to the next step.

Myth #1: eLearning + face-to-face = blend

In the beginning, all we had in terms of delivery methods was classroom learning.

If you wanted to learn you had to book onto a course, possibly in a hotel somewhere. People had to take time away from their work, and to travel. It was expensive and inconvenient. It’s no surprise L&D got a bad rep with some people.

Then eLearning was born, and it was the best thing since sliced bread. Anything that could be made into eLearning, was. The natural next step was to combine these methods to get the benefits of each – and so, ‘blended learning’ was born.

Initially, when attempting to blend learning, many people thought: I’ll keep the classroom element, and incorporate some eLearning—hey presto, blended learning! Or is it?

Actually, this is the definition of a classroom sandwich—which is not true blended learning.

Be sure that you don't let one delivery method draw your focus from building a well-rounded blend.

A classroom sandwich centres around a classroom session, rather than understanding what the most engaging delivery method would be. The knowledge element is pulled out of the classroom-based experience and delivered as pre-reading—often digitally or as eLearning—usually to make the classroom part quicker or less costly.

I have rarely seen this work!

However, when we design learning based on the key drivers of ‘making it digital’ and ‘reducing face-to-face’, we are often not considering the best, most desired, way to deliver the learning—so how can it be the best possible method if we’re limiting ourselves like this?

Myth #2: Face-to-face training is dead

People have been suggesting that time was up for face-to-face learning when eLearning came on the scene.

I disagree. I do, however, want to encourage L&D professionals to think about balance, and to employ methods that will best achieve the results they want—rather than starting with the method and hoping to 'solutioneer' the desired effect.

For example, it seems like video is currently the be-all and end-all in learning. It can be quicker to deliver than eLearning, but the danger is that the learner is entirely passive. Interactivity can be introduced, but it needs to be right, and this can be difficult and expensive. And video content by itself, even with interactivity, doesn’t make a blend.

When we look at the things the top performing companies say make a difference, 45% of those successful at improving efficiency report that they "integrate technology into face-to-face training" as opposed to 21% who don't—and 42% of Top Deck respondents were using blended, as opposed to 30% using only face-to-face and 28% online.

The fact, however, that so many are still incorporating face-to-face into their blend is testament to its success and continued relevance. It's clear that those reaping the best results are using a blend of learning methods. So be sure that you don't let one delivery method draw your focus from building a well-rounded blend, using the appropriate delivery methods for its content and objectives.

Myth #3: You need an expensive LMS to deliver a learning blend

To engage people in your learning, obviously you need to deliver it in the way that they can best digest it. However, you don't necessarily need the most expensive platform, or even the all-singing, all-dancing digital content that incorporates video, forums, and so on. There are affordable systems and solutions available!

You can use free-to-use apps to deliver some of the learning, i.e. closed groups on social media or messaging software—for example, Slack, or Skype—or webinar platforms that can support your blend and interactive elements.

Content curation is another hot tip for delivering blends while being mindful of overheads. If you can find a learning element that already exists—for example, a relevant TED talk—and incorporate it into your blend, not only have you saved time and money associated with creating that content, but you've woven in something different that will engage and delight your learners.

It’s easy to get blindsided and carried away with the latest impressive digital solutions, whilst forgetting the cost-benefit ratio.

Myth #4: Blended learning will save you time and money

If you’re thinking of implementing a blended learning solution simply because it will be cheaper, you might want to think again. The cost of blended learning will depend on more than how much delivery is involved, and what resources you already have that can be utilised.

It’s easy to get blindsided and carried away with the latest impressive digital solutions, whilst forgetting the cost-benefit ratio.

When designing any learning, not just blended, you need to be mindful of investment vs. return, i.e. investment in design vs. the number of learners, and the amount of times they’re going to consume your learning.

If you decide on a blend and then think about the how many people will undertake the learning, you’re looking at that number much too late.

If you get carried away with including digital elements and you don’t have the volume of learners to get the price per head down, your beautiful blend might not deliver the ROI you need or the saving you might be expecting—there could still be a considerable initial outlay and design time needed to get the learning in place.

It does take time and (some) money to build an effective blend. You can’t shortcut that, and while you can keep the costs down with a blend, you should be prepared to invest in getting it right.

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Author Profile Picture
Stephanie Morgan

Former Director of Learning Solutions

Read more from Stephanie Morgan

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