by: Richard Lepsinger
Employees today often have schedules that leave little time for training. Between meetings and tight deadlines, many do not have enough hours in their workday to squeeze in classroom time. Yet if they don’t devote ample time to developing their skills, they’ll never progress into the well-rounded leaders you need to support your company’s future growth. Fortunately, technology has propelled training to the next level through blended learning programs, which combine in-person courses with instructor-led online programs and self-paced methods such as e-learning.
While many organizations may be familiar with blended learning, not all may understand how it can benefit their company.
If your company is considering blended learning but haven’t made the leap yet, here are four reasons why you should.
It’s Flexible and Scalable
Blended learning allows busy leaders with little time to spare to break up their courses into shorter blocks of time, versus spending hours in a classroom. While there may be some in-person training required, other on-the-go tutorials are available online, which leaders can fit into their lunch breaks, listen to during their commute, or complete in between meetings. Breaking instructor-led online sessions into 60-90 minute sessions is ideal for most participants, providing them opportunities to hone their skills without traveling or leaving their desk. Knowing they are not confined to a classroom can help them complete training more quickly.
Learners who are self-motivated can also take advantage of a number of self-directed webinars and videos offered at little or no cost through websites such as: Harvard Business Review, HRDQ-U, OpenSesame, and ATD
Participants can easily access many of these programs wherever they are, whether they’re on a tablet waiting at the airport or on their smartphone between meetings.
The flexibility of blended learning also makes it easy to scale as your company grows. Traditional classroom learning may work fine with a group of 16-20 people who are all under the same roof, but it’s much more difficult to replicate across regions or internationally.
Every company wants to save money and stay within their budget. In fact, some companies may turn to blended learning with that goal in mind. Choosing blended learning can reduce or eliminate the cost of employee travel and other expenses related to training, such as lodging and meals. It also substantially reduces instructor fees and the cost of renting a venue. In addition, employees lose less time and productivity during the workday when they can take courses for an hour or two at a time, rather than spending several days traveling to and participating in an on-site program.
It Combines the Best of Traditional and e-Learning Approaches
People are naturally social creatures. While humans are capable of learning from manuals and recordings, they also learn a great deal from one another. This interaction encourages students to open their minds to other perspectives and can help them retain and apply what they learn. It’s one of the main advantages of classroom-based learning.
Instructor-led online or self-directed e-learning, however, has a number of advantages of its own. Aside from flexibility and affordability, it can reduce the competition that’s inherent to classroom learning and help learners stay focused on their own performance, rather than on their peers.
Blended learning allows employees to benefit from the advantages of both traditional and online learning environments. Additionally, online forums, interactive chat sessions electronic break-out rooms and other features allow employers to replicate many of the same characteristics and advantages of in-person classroom learning online.
Your Competitors Are Likely Already Using It
Today, 77 percent of U.S. companies offer online corporate training to improve professional development, according to Christopher Pappas, founder of The eLearning Industry’s Network. In fact, the online corporate market is expected to grow by 13% per year through 2017. Nearly 30 percent of all corporate training was delivered using blended learning methods last year, according to the 2014 Training Industry Report. Some of the fastest-growing countries in the world are adopting some form of blended learning as a best practice, with India and China leading the way.
Thanks to technology, companies can offer their employees more flexibility when it comes to training. Leaders can keep up their credentials more efficiently and companies can keep their costs down.
About the Author
Richard Lepsinger is President of OnPoint Consulting and has a twenty-five year track record of success as a human resource consultant and executive. The focus of Rick’s work has been on helping organizations close the gap between strategy and execution, work effectively in a matrix organization and lead and collaborate in a virtual environment.
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