It is often asked to complete a Blended Learning path quickly to respond as quickly as possible to the needs of the learners. But is this the best choice?
There's no point in wanting a big blended learning course, you have to make it start at the right time.
We all want to see our blended learning paths succeed. We want this for the benefit of the employees, the organisation, the trainees in our training courses and to create an example of a successful project. We read everywhere that blended learning is the future of training, we intuitively feel that it is part of the solution. The challenge is to be able to offer training courses that combine e-learning with more experiential human moments.
When creating a blended learning path, a quick start is tempting...
We all know music, we've heard it hundreds of times. Quick, we must do something. Quickly, we have to start the blended learning project. Hurry, the management is expecting results. Hurry, we have to save money. Hurry, we have to save money.
However, we also know how it ends: late, off-budget, and not meeting needs.
This willingness to be fast and wide leads to a lot of friction, both in the creation process, leaving no stakeholders satisfied, and in the adoption and use, leaving no user happy with the proposed training solution.
Why is this?
It costs little to succeed, it costs a lot to fail. Organizations don't think they're there to find out. Everybody wants to have it all, right now, and is willing to spend it. We think that the more we spend, the more we'll get. However, the two are not related. Having small, then adding gradually and adapting systematically is more difficult in the short term but extremely easy in the long term.
...but it's better to start at the right time
To avoid these common pitfalls in all project management, let's try to draw two simple principles that you can apply to your future blended learning paths. Beware, these are principles, not immutable rules.
Sometimes they can be applied to the letter, sometimes not. Sometimes they will have to be applied to the letter, sometimes not. Sometimes it will be necessary to produce blended learning paths that will not necessarily be adapted to the final needs, but which will still have to be created by internal obligation or regulation. Sometimes it will have to be imperfect, but it will be a first step.
1.A story of two clients
As an organization, you have two customers to serve in your blended learning paths: your company and your customers/employees to train.
This duality of clients to serve may lead you to think that there is an insoluble dichotomy of interests. However, these two entities are actually aligned.
On the one hand, your client "above" (the company, management, etc.) wants the project to work. On the other hand, he wants it to go fast and cheap, but he mainly wants it to work, i.e. the Blended Learning path strengthens the image of the organisation and adds value. Cost and time factors can be limiting, but they are actually secondary conditions to a main objective.
On the other hand, your customer "underneath" wants to achieve training that brings value, in a limited time and at a reasonable cost. However, delivering a blended learning path that brings value, is innovative, innovative, at a reasonable cost can, paradoxically, be time consuming and costly for the organization.
The only way you can reconcile all of these conflicting interests is to draw a superior principle that allows you to arbitrate all of the decisions to be made on the project as a whole.
In general, this principle falls fairly quickly on a single axis: what is in the interest of the end user is in the interest of the project, and therefore in the interest of the company.
2. The simple things
When in doubt, always keep it simple first, and then evolve. Start simple, see how the project evolves, then gradually expand.
Usually we lose sight of that because of the way projects are managed. You have to meet all the demands, all the criteria. Everything, right away. This pushes us to make a large number of mistakes that, at best, are expensive and can be fixed. At worst, they are just expensive.
How do we fix them?
What if, instead of rushing to be unsatisfied, we took our time to be satisfied?
It is not a question of lowering one's ambitions, but of allowing oneself time to learn and gradually increasing the spectrum of the blended learning pathway. Make no mistake, this time may be quick, but it will not be rushed.
The worst thing that can happen to you is to gradually build up a catalogue of blended learning pathways that really correspond to the needs of the trainees, the expectations of the company, fit in with budgetary constraints and are produced on time..
Synthesis - When in doubt, remember :
- Starting at the right time
- Keep it simple
- Learning progressively with ambition
Seven questions that can help you in your Blended learning journey management
- What are the needs of your trainees? Can I involve my trainees in the development process?
- What value will I bring them that they do not already have? Do I meet their needs?
- Does my organisation understand and share the "why" of creating these blended learning paths? The "how" will naturally follow.
- What is the shortest path I can start with?
- What do I take away from this first pathway? What can I improve?
- What do I need to repeat for the next course that worked well? What can I capitalize on?
- Do I need to bring in outside help to mediate between different stakeholders in my organisation and help me build consensus?
- Designing a Blended Learning course in a hurry is never a good idea.
- Be careful: when we say "in a rush", it does not mean that your Blended Learning project has to drag on forever. It can be created quickly without being rushed.
- It's better to keep it simple at the beginning and then make the Blended Learning project more complex as you go along.