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6 tips for adapting your training courses to blended learning
Any trainer will tell you how important it is to have a varied, dynamic and engaging blended learning course. And it’s a fact that e-learning has a tendency to isolate and discourage learners, often leading to very low completion rates. But don’t worry – engaging learners in distance learning courses is not mission impossible!
Nowadays, there are lots of blended learning formats that have been designed with optimal engagement in mind. Nonetheless, finding the right format for the right audience is not always straightforward, and trainers can soon become overwhelmed when faced with so many new teaching methods.
The secret to choosing the right online learning format starts with identifying learners’ needs and then choosing the format best suited to those needs.
In this article, we’ll offer some tips for choosing the right teaching formats and setting up your employees for success!
1. Consider how well your learners are able to concentrate
According to the Pomodoro Technique, invented in the 80s by Francesco Cirillo, the maximum amount of time that human beings can concentrate for is 25 minutes. With this in mind, training modules should ideally be designed to last about 25 minutes. This way, learners can take a break between each e-learning module and optimise their performance.
The best format? Fast learning!
Fast learning is a learning method developed in response to this 25-minute constraint. As well as being good for learners, this method is also great for businesses, which are always looking for ways to train up their employees in less time.
Often presented as short videos or quizzes, fast learning enables learners to absorb important information in as little time as possible.
However, be careful not to go too far and create a learning course based solely on fast learning. To make an e-learning or blended learning course truly effective, you’ll need to offer learners a variety of formats. For example, fast learning can be complemented by a virtual class, a face-to-face session or even a longer e-learning module.
2. Opt for flexible and accessible blended learning formats
Given that your average learner will be a busy employee, the amount of time that they will be able to dedicate to online training every day will be quite short and will depend on their workload. For this reason, it’s a good idea for companies and trainers to offer blended training that is flexible and accessible at any time.
Ideally, employees will be able to organise their schedules however they like. Because one thing is for sure: forcing someone to undertake training at a specific time for a specific duration will only put them off. It’s much better to give them autonomy, which will yield better results.
Another thing that companies can do in this respect is to ensure that employees can easily access their training courses from a computer, tablet or smartphone. What’s more, if you want your employees to enjoy doing training, you can present them with a training catalogue. That way, they can simply choose the training courses they are genuinely interested in. It’s not surprising that when employees take the initiative and enrol themselves on a training course, they have more chance of passing it!
The best format? Mobile learning!
Using a mobile phone has become engrained in our daily lives. Innovation in training is about finding the learning methods most conducive to quick and effective upskilling. It’s therefore only natural that mobile learning is becoming widespread.
Mobile learning takes the way we use our mobile phones and applies this to learning, enabling employees to train whenever they like. Training is accessible from anywhere, 24/7, ensuring that employees can fit it around their schedules.
Micro-learning formats (often short videos of 5 to 10 minutes) encourage employees to learn additional skills during gaps in their schedules. For example, they can do some training during a coffee break, on the go or even on a flight by using the offline mode.
3. Blended learning: offer a smooth and intuitive user experience
According to statistics published by the OECD, just over 97% of all UK households have internet access as of 2021. What’s more, the average UK household has an average of nine connected devices.
Your employees are therefore very likely to be familiar with technology, be it social networks, connected objects or the internet. Moreover, they will be used to enjoying a smooth and intuitive user experience when using these tools. If they don’t have the same user experience on their blended learning platform, they might not complete the course.
The best format? Well-constructed e-learning modules!
Your e-learning modules therefore need to be well thought-out and accessible.
For more help with this, you can read our tips for creating a great e-learning course!
Even if you’re not able to provide learners with a flawless user experience, you can still include other interactive formats. Why not organise virtual classes, for instance? They are easy to set up, promote interactions between participants and simply require a blended learning trainer and a videoconferencing tool (such as Zoom or Teams).
4. Use as many different blended learning formats as possible
Varying the formats of an online training course makes e-learning more dynamic and challenges the idea that it’s boring, bland and not very engaging. This is, incidentally, why instructional designers work so hard to create appealing blended learning courses that are adapted to learners’ needs.
These days, there are lots of formats that appeal to different learning styles, including visual, auditory and kinaesthetic ones. Mixing these up will allow you to engage as many learners as possible.
That said, everyone has their own way of learning and people have different preferences. However well thought-out a format is, it will never please everyone. That’s why it’s important to have as many different formats as possible in order to make sure the training appeals to everyone.
The best format? Audio + text
Although everyone is different, there are certain combinations of formats that are conducive to information retention. So, while these formats might not suit everyone, they at least have the benefit of being effective!
Take a module which incorporates audio and visual elements, for example. By appealing to two different senses, this will enable learners to assimilate the knowledge they have acquired more quickly and easily.
5. Forget the format
Yes, you read that right! While the format is obviously an important aspect of a great blended learning course, it’s not the be-all and end-all. What really counts is offering employees a training package that is adapted to their needs and preferences. Above all, training courses need to be directly applicable to their job, career change aspirations or career development goals.
It’s worth bearing in mind that designing a well thought-out, tailored training package will enable employees to upskill much more quickly!
6. Don’t forget to take on board learner feedback
Gathering feedback from learners is undoubtedly one of the most important steps if you want your training courses to stand the test of time – yet this step is very often neglected.
It’s worth bearing in mind that once a training course has been published, it is subject to changes and improvements that are largely the result of learner feedback.
The best format? Surveys!
Your employees will be pleased to know that their opinion matters to you. What’s more, as recipients of the training, they are certainly best placed to provide constructive feedback on what needs to be improved, removed or moved around.
To seek feedback from your learners, you have two options:
- an on-the-spot evaluation is conducted as soon as the training course has been completed. This will allow you to obtain more accurate and detailed responses from learners.
- a reflective evaluation can be done several weeks or even months after the training course has been completed. In this case, learner feedback will be more constructive and will enable you to measure the real impact of your training course on day-to-day working life.
Neither of these two methods is better than the other, as they both provide different yet useful information. If possible, it’s best to include both types of survey!