How to create engaging blended learning programs for the new world of work
Although learning has moved online and to various hybrid models for many years, the coronavirus pandemic has pushed the pedal to the ground, accelerating movement to highway speed. This is great news for both the learner and your organization. When you approach learning as a fully blended experience with the virtual component at the center, you can create a program that has greater impact and lasts long after the session ends. And it’s flexible, allowing you to weave the right pieces to achieve your learning goal, building on these approaches:
- Independent learning
- Synchronous learning (in person or online)
- Social learning (in pairs and / or cohorts)
Blended learning programs are the most effective method. By combining asynchronous video learning with synchronous webinars and / or in-person workshops, as well as other engaging elements, you create opportunities to tailor and personalize messages. This allows learners to better understand and apply what they have learned and ultimately turn those actions into results. Blended learning offers unique benefits that are absent when an employee simply logs in for a few hours of recorded one-on-one training or attends a single group webinar. Blended learning is the best learning and will become the dominant professional development style for most companies in the new world of work because it:
- Is less expensive than all in-person programs, where travel costs are approximately 40% of the cost. According to the Panopto video platform, IBM shifted 50% of its in-person training to e-learning and saved $ 579 million over 2 years. The concern is not only to reduce costs; it’s about improving the return on investment. These costly events in themselves are much less effective in turning learning into action and action into outcomes for the learner and the organization.
- Takes place over time. By extending the training over a longer period of time, you allow repetition, which is essential for learning. Thanks to the work carried out by German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus on the forgetting curve, we understand the importance of repetition. Just seven days after a training session, employees will have forgotten 65% of the material covered. According to ShifteLearning, only 12% of employees apply the skills learned during training to their jobs.
- Supports different types of learners. This makes it more efficient for your entire organization. Auditory, visual and kinesthetic learners all benefit from a blended approach.
- Allows you to establish new habits and apply skills to work. New habits are learned over time through practice. In fact, it takes about 66 days fully establish new habits. Learning new information during a one or two day event will not lead to new habits because there is not enough time for the app.
- Is more flexible than synchronous learning alone, giving the learner more control over when to integrate learning into the rest of their schedule. In the new world of work, talent will have more decision-making power over all aspects of the job.
- Allows you to deliver the right content in the right format. Not all content is best delivered in person or on demand or on video or through an app. By creating mixed programs, formats, and platforms, you can deliver each element in a powerful way.
Since the subject I train on is personal branding, most of my experience with clients has been creating and delivering soft skills programs. An ideal blended learning program for soft skills includes the following:
- Assess. This helps the learner to establish a basic awareness of his knowledge and skills. It is useful to start with a synchronous Familiarization / Getting Started session, which sets the scene.
- To throw. Instead of a deluge, I prefer rolling thunder campaigns, which are dripping with content and information, promoting intrigue. Reminder messages help participants prepare, especially if they include easy and fun preparatory work.
- Socialize. It is useful to create pairs of responsibilities and establish cohorts. A study by ATD found that people have only a 25% chance of achieving a goal when they commit to it. This number increases to 95% when they have a specific responsibility appointment with someone else.
- To learn. Video-on-demand learning gives participants the flexibility and control they need to fit learning into their busy schedules. Including quizzes, a fillable PDF “playbook”, games, etc. can make learning more fun and impactful.
- Play (Interact). Live sessions bring learners together. By including workshops, surveys, word clouds, Q&A, etc., participants deepen their learning and connect with their colleagues.
- Plan. Action planning ensures that learners are committed to making learning happen. These goals are best achieved when accountability partners engage with each other and pursue this step together.
- To reinforce. Reminder texts, emails, and other nudges help keep engagements high on the list.
- Assess. All learning programs should be measured against the individual’s goals. This helps produce more relevant programs and results over time.
That said, digital learning isn’t all about the sun and the rainbow. There are challenges in delivering learning on the same device that hosts email and other work for your employees. The temptation to multi-tasking is important. To ensure engagement in the virtual elements of the programs, there are 12 guaranteed techniques to make the program sticky and effective. Here are the four most important:
1. The surprising start. Learners should know that this is going to be different from anything they have experienced before. Employees spending most of their days on Zoom, delivering the learning that seems like these monotonous meetings will be greeted with a wink.
2. The chasm of curiosity. It is the gorilla glue of learning. It’s the gap between what participants know and what they want to know, keeping participants glued from segment to segment. This is the technique that Netflix uses to keep us going Bridgerton. Mixing up the way you deliver the plot throughout the program keeps it tacky.
3. The psychological power of 3. Marketers know that people remember things that come in threes. And the most powerful application of this technique is the Aristotle Triptych: Say what you are going to say, say it and say what you said. When you use this technique that is thousands of years old, you add the important element of repetition.
4. The Disney World effect. Learning science tells us that people learn more when they are having fun. As long as you get all of the key learnings in the program you are building, there is no limit to the amount of fun you can inject into your program. Multiple and varied opportunities will allow you to meet your people’s varying definitions of fun, just as Disney knows some customers prefer Space Mountain while others love Expedition Everest.
Blended learning will become the most common way to develop skills and adopt behaviors. If done right, that’s great news for your business and your learners.