New technology trends and tools inevitably invite disruption, and disruption is often equated with disorder. But the sense of disorder carries promise as the “old ways” of doing things, while reliable, become increasingly stagnant and insufficient, and evolving technologies and modalities unfold new possibilities.
It‘s no different in elearning, where the landscape of learning and development (L&D) continues to be reshaped and, yes, disrupted in the name of continual improvement and taking advantage of the new and evolving tools and technologies at our disposal. But what separates the stagnant, rigid company from the progressive, agile (and generally prosperous) company is both its willingness to change and its preparedness in adapting to and incorporating emerging tools and technologies.
So as we look into elearning’s future, through 2016 and into 2017, it’s important to assess incoming challenges and opportunities and look at whether your company is ready for what will, cumulatively, become a major shift in elearning. And in particular, it’s important to look at the simple fact that blended learning is going to become more mainstream, and increasingly it will have to be embedded in your learning management system.
Blended Learning Disruption Upends L&D
Once an emerging method, then a nice-to-have approach, blended learning is increasingly becoming an expected and essential means of approaching elearning and L&D in general. You can find a ton of information on the approach, but in a nutshell it combines traditional learning approaches (e.g., classroom-based, instructor-led) with informal approaches, including experiential learning (knowledge and skills gained through on-the-job tasks, practice, and challenges) and social learning (coaching, mentoring, and interacting with peers).
The blended learning approach upends the standard model, which puts traditional learning first or else relies on it exclusively. Blended learning flips the structure of learning by recognizing the critical role of experiential and social learning, then breaks down the three approaches into a 70:20:10 model, where 70% of learning takes place experientially, 20% happens socially, and only 10% is executed formally.
Blended Learning Is Better Learning
What we know now is that blended learning approaches are pretty much consistently more effective at delivering desired learning outcomes and achieving business goals when they are linked (which is another matter for discussion). To stay competitive, achieve results, and validate the worth of L&D programs, organizations will have to revisit and refresh their L&D strategies and ensure they have a scope of delivery that covers these three critical areas of learning and aren’t overly reliant on the go-to of traditional formal learning.
Furthermore, businesses will have to ensure that their technology framework is also in tune with this new cross-sectional approach. One benefit of formal learning is that it can be easy to check boxes and measure execution on learning program delivery. For example, if an employee in training is expected to complete X, Y, and Z courses, to be delivered by A, B, and C dates, that’s an easy thing to quantify and check off on the list within the learning management system. It is trickier to quantify and qualify what is delivered and achieved through experiential and social learning, but not impossible.
As you revisit your L&D strategy in preparation for this emerging shift in elearning, it is important to factor in how you will link learning and business outcomes, how you will incorporate the 70:20:10 dynamic into your training approach, and what kinds of technologies you will use to validate the worth of your L&D program and learning management system.