In the strange times we find ourselves in, a digital approach to learning is not only beneficial, but vital. Taking your traditional classroom training online is the only answer there is right now. When the COVID-19 crisis is over, having a training strategy that includes a digital blend will remain the sensible choice for those keen to future proof.
But taking a digital approach to learning isn’t something we should just do out of necessity. From innovative ways of creating connections between learners, to enabling you to deliver on-demand training, online blends offer up a range of opportunities for savvy L&D professionals to embrace.
So, what does a great online blended learning program involve? What benefits will it bring? And how do you get started creating one? Read on to find out.
What makes a successful online blended learning program?
First, it’s important to note that everyone’s version of a ‘great’ online blend will look a little different. What’s right for one group of learners won’t be for another. The same goes for the content involved, the business goals, or the technology available. Whatever your circumstances, there’s going to be a blend that’s right for you – it just takes a little planning to get there.
As a general rule, the best online blends will always:
- Take a people-centered approach – they put the learner first and consider what they really need to do, not just know.
- Embrace the technology available to create the optimal learning experience.
- Find ways to create human connection and shared experiences in the digital environment.
- Be engaging enough to encourage learners to keep returning. Digital resources have longevity – why not make the most of that?
What are the benefits?
- Future proofing: COIVD-19 has forced us to embrace remote working more than ever before, and it’s likely to remain a popular option in the future. Having online learning resources is crucial to supporting teams who work at distance, whether from home or in different parts of the world.
- On-demand content: Going digital means learners can access information whenever and wherever they need it.
- Save on time and cost: Flying trainers around the world to deliver face-to-face training isn’t great for those on a budget. When combined with the travel and attendance time involved (both the trainer’s and the participants’) it’s clear that an online blend is a time and cost efficient option.
- Make the most of data: A digital approach offers the ability to gather and track more data, giving you the confidence of knowing who has done what, when. A quick feedback sheet at the end of a face-to-face session can only tell you so much; an online blend, on the other hand, will let you discover more. You can find out how learners are interacting with your learning, and even use spaced assessments to see what information has been retained.
How to create a great online blended learning program
- Capture your needs. Start by understanding who your audience is, the purpose of your project and what will make it a success. Our capture guide will help with this stage.
- Engage your SMEs and stakeholders across the business. Get them involved as early as possible to support your project.
- Break your content down into manageable chunks and think about each chunk’s purpose – do they encourage reflection, offer a chance to practice, or deliver a tutorial?
- Create an engaging flow. Take each chunk and think about the journey you want to take learners on. What will motivate them at the start? Can you offer choice over the route they take or does the experience need to be linear? What would deliver a powerful call to action at the end?
- Apply best practice online learning design principles as you create your online learning. Check out our Elearning Best Practice 101 course for tips on this.
- Choose your tech. Plan out the technology you need for each section of your learner journey. What will work best for your learners? What tech stack do you have available? Can you harness other channels within the business, such as messaging applications or your intranet? What data do you want to collect?
- Finally, plan your launch – it’s just as crucial as the content. Think like a marketing and communications team (or get them involved if you can!) and work out how best to promote the program. Can you launch it in a way that lets learners answer the question ‘what’s in it for me?’
Take it further
Want to delve deeper into creating a successful online blend? We’ve created the Introduction to Elearning Design program to guide you through the process from start to finish. You’ll find webinars offering expert advice, practical resources to help you develop your blend, and tips and tricks from industry professionals. Designed as an online blended learning program itself, you’ll get the added bonus of experiencing one too!