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How learners benefit from blended learning


The changing face of working practices

More than ever, working practices come in all shapes and sizes. Employees are less likely to be full-time on-site than they were in the past and therefore less easily available to participate in static in-house courses.

Multinational and global corporations who have work forces scattered over the world have been using technology in the form of tele-and video conferencing for many years at the behest of management to avoid the costs of travelling, but they are now more and more susceptible to the use of blended learning to meet the needs of learners who are required to work as teams with people they may never actually meet and who are required to absorb the same corporate message whether in Tokyo, New York or Paris.

Blended learning involving the application of online methodologies and distant training approaches could therefore be more appropriate for those involved in:

  • Home working
  • Hot desking
  • Flexible working
  • Remote working
  • Shift working
  • Virtual teams
  • Global corporations

Workers with disabilities

Anti-discriminatory legislation exists in many countries and in many shapes and forms but generally includes a commitment to ensure that workers with disabilities have the same access to training opportunities as their able-bodied colleagues.

The inclusion of online learning as part of a blended learning package opens out the opportunities so much further to those who have in the past been denied access.

Employers are finally discovering that the provision of accessible training opportunities to workers with disabilities makes economic sense; this is a group whose talents have often been overlooked and whose skills have not always been developed as a consequence.

Beware of thinking of people in groups however. The individual need, just like an individual learning style, should be served by its training provision. People with disabilities are above all individuals with specific needs and the best way to try to meet these needs is to talk the individuals concerned. For some the blended learning approach may not be viable or they may need a greater element of online-learning than others; above all they should be helped by the blended learning approach and not hindered by it. The importance is to make available as many different learning methodologies which the budget will allow so that any learner can choose the options best suited to their particular learning needs.

Other categories of workers

E-learning and online learning packages may in all senses be excellent but it is not sensible to assume that they will be physically accessible to all groups of workers.

Shift workers eg cleaners or care workers, often work in 'satellite' buildings, not head office where the training centre is located and factory workers may be spread out across sites in different countries and on different time zones. These workers have infrequent, if any, workplace access to a computer or internet, so for them blended learning, if used, would need mobile-learning solutions, eg iPads or PDA's provided by the company so they can access their training.

Top tip

Ensure that your learners are sufficiently supported if they are expected to use tools that are unfamiliar to them and that clear instruction is given.

What's your experience? 

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