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Ten steps to creating the perfect blend


Perfect blendFrancis Marshall shares some tips on how to create successful blended learning programmes.

Blended learning programmes can play a key role in driving down the cost of training, speeding up learning and making training more accessible to a wider audience – all important in the current economic climate. Here are my tips for developing successful blending learning programmes:

1. Align the learning goals
Create a strong project team with senior management buy-in from the outset, to ensure the learning goals of the organisation, the function and the individual are all aligned. Involve representatives from the target group being trained as well as line managers.

Photo of Francis Marshall"'Blended learning' does not mean combining elearning and face to face training. It means using a whole plethora of learning tools appropriate to the learner and the organisational goals."

2. Measure success
Agree return on investment (ROI) measures at the outset to ensure that the impact of learning on the growth of the individual and the organisation can be tracked and evaluated successfully. Such measures will help demonstrate that training is a competitive business tool.

3. Make it learner-driven
The learner should be at the heart of all activities. Every individual should know what path their training is taking, where they are now and where they need to be to achieve their personal and corporate goals. Tailor the blend accordingly and let learners take personal ownership over the pace they learn, allowing the process to be accelerated where necessary.

4. Engage the learner
Remember that the focus should be about engaging the individual learner as much as fulfilling the organisational brief. Choose a learning environment that is appropriate for the audience. The environment must be stimulating, with elearning modules actively engaging the senses, for example. Make sure content is relevant and customised to the learner's own work realities and challenges.

5. Use a range of training interventions
Combine 'byte-sized' learning events with coaching by line managers, in-house development programmes and on-the-job training to meet clearly specified development needs. Remember, 'blended learning' does not mean combining elearning and face to face training. It means using a whole plethora of learning tools appropriate to the learner and the organisational goals that the training is aiming to achieve.

6. Integrate every element
Make sure each component part of the programme - the pre-course assessment, elearning and other blended activities, live training event and post-course activity - relate to each other with key content and themes reinforced and enhanced throughout the learning event. Every element should stand up in its own right but be part of a wider learning context.

"Make sure that the training is people-led rather than technology-led."

7. Focus on skills development
Blended learning is highly effective in taking a set of abstract skills, embedding them in the individual, and enabling these new skills to be applied at work. Developing management skills, managing change programmes, negotiating, selling, and enhancing customer relationships are all disciplines ideal for blended learning.

8. Adopt a flexible approach
Regular feedback - both formal and informal - and a willingness to refine programmes, will help ensure that learners are fully engaged and the organisational goals are achieved. There is no 'one size fits all' blend – it's about choosing the most effective channel for the objective, audience and desired outcome.

9. Technology must be the enabler, not the driver
Don't forget, technology must be user friendly and appropriate to the target audience in terms of its functionality, interactivity and ease-of-use. Technology can help in the delivery of personalised content and it can create as close to a live interactive, senses-focused environment as possible. But make sure that the training is people-led rather than technology-led.

10. Develop a three way charter
Blended learning works best when there is a charter between training suppliers, internal training personnel and learners. Working in true partnership - with ROI central to the solution - is the most effective way to ensure learning is personalised, relevant and delivers maximum value.

Francis Marshall is managing director of Cegos UK, part of Cegos Group, Europe's largest learning and development provider. He can be contacted on +44 (0)845 521 1560. Email. For more information, visit:


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