5 Tips to Make Your Blended Learning Programme a Success
What is Blended Learning? It is a modern approach to learning and development (L&D) that works to combine more traditional Face to Face (F2F) classroom events with virtual training, e-learning and webinars.
If you want to learn more about the components of Blended Learning, check out our other blog – here.
Here are our top five tips to make your Blended Learning programme a success.
Purpose, Purpose, Purpose
When deciding on what is and isn’t included in your Blended Learning programme during the design phase, it is easy to fall into the trap of being like a youngster at the Pick’n’Mix. Although you might want a bit of everything, not only does everything not go together but most times you won’t be able to fit it all in!
Be clear, before you even begin designing, of what you are setting out to achieve. What do you want your participants to be thinking, feeling and doing by the end of the programme and how does that compare to where they are now?
Then you will be in the right position to edit and add the elements that you feel will move them towards that end goal. Elements such as intervention, activity, video or workshop should be in the programme because it points learners to the programme objective. Having complete clarity on that end goal makes it much easier to control your Pick’n’Mix urges and choose the correct Blended Learning elements for your programme.
Mix It Up
Getting a balance of different types of learning elements is key to keeping things interesting and fresh for your participants. If there is too much eLearning, too much reading, too much travel etc, then a programme can start to feel like it is dragging. It becomes formulaic and predictable.
Having said that, refer to the importance of purpose. You don’t want to throw everything at the programme for the sake of it. Choose elements that are the best fit for your participants and their learning context.
The golden balance is keeping it varied and interesting whilst still being 100% relevant to the participants and pushing them towards achieving that end goal.
Optimise Time Spent Together
As many Blended Learning programmes have some measure of self-directed learning in them, time spent with colleagues and learning together becomes ever more important.
Remember that time spent together doesn’t have to mean sitting in a conference room together, in a F2F setting; it can be through Virtual Workshops or video calls such as Zoom. Whatever way you choose, make the most of this time by maxing out the available opportunities for interactions.
Prime your participants with content and reflection time prior to time together. This allows them to deepen their learning through discussion, exploration, practice, observation, coaching and sharing feedback.
Consider the Flipped Workshop approach too; where you provide your participants with the content to consume prior to the workshop. This could involve some reading, a video to watch or an eLearning to complete. Then, the time in the workshop itself, either F2F or virtually, can be used to explore that content and look for ways to practice implementing it.
Be Clear On What Is Optional And What Is Not
Where we have seen participants getting frustrated or feeling lost on a Blended Learning programme is when their journey is unclear. It is great to add lots of resource available as extras for those who want to dive deeper into a topic, or who have the time/appetite to explore further. But not everyone will want this.
No doubt, there will be some activities which are essential to the programme, for example, the content needed for a Flipped Workshop. When this is provided, ensure participants know that it needs to be done by everyone or the time together will become less focused.
But on the other hand, if you provide mandatory content, ensure it is used. It can be very frustrating to spend time consuming content or completing an activity for it never to be used.
A good set of programme guidelines can help manage the expectations of your participants upfront and throughout, so they are always aware of what they need to be doing.
You want your participants to be fully focused and supported throughout the programme. This comes from the programme organisers, facilitators, participants’ managers and coaches/mentors. Another key network is peer support between participants.
You can set this up for the cohort yourself or encourage them to do it between themselves. Forums such as Whatsapp, Yammer, Slack or Microsoft Teams make great platforms for support, questions and advice while on a learning journey.
By using one of these platforms, it allows participants to share ideas, learnings, questions and even frustrations between each other, and creates an on-going opportunity to network and stay in touch beyond the current programme. This creates a real feeling of being “in it together”, sharing the journey and individual successes with one another along the way.
There you have it. Five top tips to help your Blended Learning programme be successful. Key take aways from this article are – remember your purpose, don’t get carried away in your Pick’n’Mix and remember to schedule time together.