A new method of online learning that is gaining momentum is Blended Learning.
This approach recognizes that the ways people learn differ greatly among
individuals. Blended Learning encompasses a variety of tools to create
flexible, rich learning environments that stimulate learners and maximizes the
potential for learning. These tools include online or distance learning
technology, textbook and hard copy resources, online media and multimedia
content, searchable databases and the Internet, electronic whiteboards, video,
and lectures, delivered in person or online. A study* conducted by the Thomson
Corporation discovered that:
Blended model learners were 30% more accurate in task performance than learners
in traditional non-blended learning environments.
Blended model learners performed tasks 41% faster than learners in traditional
non-blended learning environments.
Blended model learners were 159% more accurate in task performance than
learners receiving no instruction.
As the acceptance of blended learning accelerates, the development of resources
for this hybrid online offering will accelerate as well.
Benefits of Blending Learning Solutions:
Reduce time for training
Dramatically reduce training cost
Increase time and productivity on the job
Increase business skill set and enhance care
Provide unlimited scheduling alternatives
Define career paths
Reasonable cost of entry - infrastructure has never been so inexpensive.
The costs of both computing power and Internet access have plummeted. Your
organization can acquire a dedicated computer system with multimedia capability
to support blended learning AND have Internet access for testing and
accreditation for as low as $2,000-$2,500 per year. And with broadband access
penetration to homes doubling every few years, it's a good bet that your
learners could easily access rich content delivered online from the convenience
of their own homes.
A central computer that can be accessed during breaks, during mealtimes, or
before, during and after the workday, can augment the training experience.
Surveys confirm that employees exhibit higher job loyalty when they feel the
organization invests in outside resources to make work-skills augmentation
Keys to Driving a Successful Online Learning Program
Creating a successful online learning program can appear daunting. Here are a
few components to help you design and implement your program.
Seek executive sponsorship
For training to be successful, executive sponsorship is a must. Employees must
know that they are expected to keep current and to advance their education.
But, are they led by example, and are they rewarded for it? Performance
evaluations and discretionary bonuses can be tied to training to reinforce its
importance. The leadership aspect is important. Showcase your commitment to
leadership and learning by including management in some of the classes and by
utilizing employee communications materials to communicate the importance of
Part of this communication should reinforce that learning is a benefit. One of
the fastest ways to demonstrate that your organization is investing in its
employees is through training and education. When you give the green light for
your employees to improve their skills, you empower them to aspire. Reinforce
this by taking the focus off of learning/licensure/accreditation as
requirements. Emphasize instead the benefit and power of career development and
the flexibility that your organization delivers its employees as they seek
training and education.
Benchmark others and seek outside expertise
Discovering how similar organizations approach their learning programs can be a
good place to start. Talk to administrators of organizations to find out what's
working and why. Read industry articles on case studies and seek out their
participants for informational interviews. Talk to content providers who have
expertise integrating content with technology in varying environments and their
Think like your learners
To teach, you must first learn about your employees and their needs. It's
important to understand the constraints and desires of your staff. How much
time do their positions and their outside lives afford for training? The better
you understand their mindsets, the more successful your training program will
be. Tailoring education and training programs to the needs of employees helps
A blended program that offers online access - within the walls of the facility -
and off site - helps students learn with the knowledge that their sponsor
understands the factors that influence their everyday lives.
These factors may be discovered by involving your audience. Solicit feedback
throughout the process. Try to involve staff in the development of initial
course criteria. Conduct focus groups to learn how and where they like to
learn. Allow them to sample materials and use technologies that are being
considered for materials presentation. And continually conduct surveys to
implement improvements once programs and courses are rolled out.
Make learning familiar and enjoyable
Your courses can exhibit a brand that has your organization's stamp on it. This
way they are presented as a part of the overall education program and follow a
dedicated system of learning. Each class can be a logical extension of the
previous one and lend familiarity to the next. By avoiding static presentations
and maximizing current events and real-life situations you present relevant
contexts for learning that stimulate students.
High quality content
Perhaps too obvious is that the content of training and education courses must
be of the highest caliber. This component is absolutely critical. Students are
too often disenchanted by rudimentary content that may be tiresome or
demeaning. Choose content from respectable publishers with proven experience
delivering blended learning.
Use ROI to help justify
In any industry, cost is a constraining factor. Proving ROI can be difficult, so
ask vendors of technology solutions and content how they stack up. Some will
have data to support them. And remember the quote at the top of this guide -
that saving student time is a key cost reducer. Make sure to calculate how much
student time may be wasted in commuting.
Reuse, reinvent, update
Coursework content and course delivery systems must be updated to reflect
current studies, knowledge, and requirements. An online system allows fast,
easy updating of materials without incurring high costs of print material and
long lead times for production. By implementing change based upon your survey
results, you can quickly demonstrate commitment and responsiveness to learner's
For additional information:
Career Education and Academic markets contact:
Delmar Cengage Learning
5 Maxwell Drive
Clifton Park, NY 12065