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Feature: The Blended Learning Cookbook


news_arialmandesk.jpgIs there one ideal way to set up a blended learning programme or does every trainer have to rewrite the cookbook for every new piece of training? Jo Cheesman of Academee offers some tips.

The phrase "blended learning" is often used to describe the act of putting a pre-existing e-learning module in combination with an existing face-to-face course and then assuming that the overall programme will meet the learner’s needs.

However, there’s a powerful argument that says this kind of forced combination won’t actually work. Given that the organisation will probably have its own performance management system – whether it’s competencies or something similar – and that individuals will have their own development needs, then the best blended solutions will take account of both of these variables and produce something that caters for each.

Thus it follows that blended learning programmes are most effective when tailor made for the organisation that is using them. It might be possible to use pre-existing material when working with different organisations that have similar learning requirements, similar needs and similar competency matrices – but, the chances of matching all these criteria is unlikely.

To be effective, learning must be individualised to meet the needs of the learner and the organisation. To understand those needs, the diagnostic process becomes key to the programme development and its success.

The development of more sophisticated, technologically-based training needs analysis and diagnostic tools has revolutionised this area of the process. Online profiling tools, online versions of 360 degree surveys and online development needs diagnostics, allow you to gain an in-depth understanding of organisations and learners’ needs. They also provide a good benchmarking tool for development both during and after programme delivery.

It is important to measure your organisation’s unique competency matrixes pre-diagnostic. This ensures that the diagnostic accurately measures performance against company goals, and will then identify individuals’ skills gaps to meet the required criteria. As skills gaps are identified, learning plans for individuals can be created.

Online portals can be developed to provide access to, manage and deploy the diagnostics and various learning solutions that meet the development needs of the individuals. Such portals enable learners to take control and have ownership of their development programmes as well as progressing at their own pace.

Being able to answer each individual’s needs and provide development programmes for them is an essential ingredient in providing successful blended learning programmes. Ideally it should be made up of a number of learning solutions that are tailored specifically for an organisation and its employees.


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