Blended eLearning to the Rescue

By | eLearning Solutions | 7 Comments

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If you’re still providing the same old, tired learning experience, you might have noticed the dull roar of, “OMG, NOT AGAIN,” growing louder with each training or eLearning announcement. Productivity advantages from “tried and true,” vaporize over time as boredom creeps in. Shaking up the delivery format can breathe new life into your lop-sided training or eLearning programs and increase effectiveness. Experiment with a blended eLearning approach, and watch the dull roar return to a few whispers of displeasure from the usual suspects.

3 Benefits of Blended eLearning

Taking a blended eLearning approach to training allows the learner the most flexibility when answering the questions of how, when and where learning takes place. But the student isn’t the only one who benefits. Organizations are making the switch for the following three reasons:

1. Cost. In-class training may seem like a cheaper option when compared to eLearning development, but consider the true cost of face-to-face sessions: Time away from work, paying instructors and flying in remote employees can eat up a significant amount of the L&D budget. A blended eLearning approach cuts down on travel costs and can be used again and again, which reduces instructor time as well.

2. Reach. Global organizations face the challenges of making learning universal, no matter the branch location. Language interpretation and travel can also be concerns, both of which are easily addressed by blended eLearning that brings the same training to all employees, whether they work in another country or from home.

3. Personalization. If all learners have different levels of understanding and expertise, then why force them into the same training program? Blended eLearning creates a buffet-style approach to training, allowing learners to lead and choose how and when they interact with the material. Being able to test out of a familiar topic or listening to the same podcast a few times means each learner gets the training they need (and want).

From Traditional Classroom Training to New-Fangled eLearning…

eLearning launched from relative obscurity to a bona fide trend with the dot-com crash as department heads took hacksaws to their training and T&E budgets. Budget-friendly eLearning makes the best use of time and resources—on paper anyway—and “time away from the job” decreases. Self-paced learning frees trainers for other projects.

…And Back Again

But, when the silos turn into skyscrapers, and retention of material doesn’t last through the weekend, a partial return to a more structured type of learning—the classroom—can help reverse those trends. No classrooms? No problem…

Learn more about our Blended eLearning solutions by contacting us today!

Putting Blended eLearning All Together

Interactive webinars combine the interactivity of the classroom with the cost-saving benefits of eLearning. Use the webinar as an intermediate step to bridge the classroom and self-paced format. Encourage collaboration between the design and training teams when designing blended eLearning programs, especially when creating interactive webinars.

Beyond the Webinar into Blended eLearning

Use your in-house social media to further blended eLearning by setting up peer study and review groups as a precursor to working groups. If you’re moving from the classroom to self-paced format, it encourages the use of technology. If you’re blending from the other direction, it encourages reaching out to humans.

Just as cross-pollination of people sparks fresh ideas, a cross between training and eLearning can reignite dying embers in the learning space.

 

Casual Friday: Informal mLearning

By | eLearning Solutions | 4 Comments

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Everyone loves Casual Friday: A chance to loosen the tie and reduce the formality of a traditional office setting. But what if that feeling you get when you swap heels for flip flops could be translated into a learning experience for employees? Mobile learning is an ideal way to promote more organic, casual learning – even when employees are away from their desks. Take your cue from other companies that have successfully integrated laid-back mLearning into their strategy.

Case Studies (RBS and Microsoft)

When confronted with the challenge to educate employees on the go, the Royal Bank of Scotland developed an iPad app so learners could access material anytime. By creating a branded experience across resources like an employee library and peer-to-peer communications, RBS was able to enhance use and give learners a portable, casual way to stay in the know.

Microsoft has also implemented mLearning, particularly for business conduct training. A companion piece to other eLearning modules, employees can download an app on their devices for quick access to reminders and materials to help them better integrate successfully into office culture.

Why mLearning Works

Mobile learning trends have shown that mlearning is the future, and that more and more users will be connected. Mobile learning gives learners the 24/7 ability to educate themselves. And, because everyone has a phone and/or tablet, it drastically increases accessibility. Of course, it’s not perfect: mLearning really works best when used in conjunction with other delivery methods and is ideal for “just in case” or quick information and reminders.

Workplace Applications

You don’t have to be a huge corporation to utilize mLearning. Whether it’s sending a quick, three-minute video via text or creating a deck of flash cards, viewable on mobile devices, you can start today to incorporate mLearning into your current learning strategy. By making learning accessible and casual, you might just find your learners more willing to loosen their ties, kick off their heels and actually get into the subject matter – anytime and anywhere.

Accessibility Vs. Subject Matter: Why Responsive Design Works

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Think about all the time you spend in front of screens, from TVs to computers, tablets and smartphones: We take in 90 percent of media consumption from screen-based sources. And, if your learners are already using screens to absorb media, talk to friends and be entertained, it only makes sense that your design strategy should follow suit. That’s where responsive design – creating modules that are compatible with a number of different screens – comes into play.

The Basics (Are you there when they call?)

Responsive design refers to ensuring that media is available across a number of devices. For eLearning, that means creating a course or module that can be accessed via mobile phone as readily as it is on the computer. Responsive design makes learning more accessible, regardless of device, time or location, which can be a huge advantage for learners who are short on time or can’t physically attend a class.

When it Works (Be Spontaneous!)

Responsive design works best when the subject matter is governed by time: Need-to-know and up-to-the-minute information that learners can’t necessarily absorb in a class setting. By creating flash cards, tips or even small quizzes that can be pushed out to a number of learners using a variety of devices, you don’t have to wait until a formal training course to get users to read and act on new info.

Responsive Context (Follow the Formula)

To understand the importance of responsive eLearning design, designers should first understand the context by which responsive design works for learners. It’s a simple formula and it looks something like this:

Time + Location + Goal = Learner Attitude

Responsive design helps leverage a learner’s time and location (say, on a bus during a 30-minute commute or at home for an hour of training). When combined with the ultimate goal of the training, such as a performance support, the ability to access the same module across a number of different devices can drastically alter a learner’s overall attitude. Instead of finding learning tedious, time-consuming and boring, they’re place in the driver’s seat of self-directed and convenient learning.

Work Hard, Play Harder: Setting Goals in Gamification

By | eLearning Solutions | 4 Comments

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This isn’t Super Mario Brothers, but the motivation might be the same. It turns out that playing to save Princess Peach could teach you a thing or two about game-based training applications. Like your fave video game, gamification within the corporate environment injects a dose of fun and motivation when used in the right way. By setting clear objectives from day one, your learners are more excited to learn, play and unlock achievements to prove they know their stuff.

Outline Your Project Scope

Without a properly-outlined project scope, it’s almost impossible to set clear objectives for the gamification process. You first need to know exactly what you want your learners to get out of the module: From better skills to more knowledge or a refresher course, the scope of the project dictates the type of gaming you utilize for your module and what it takes for learners to level up or earn badges as they play.

Gamification Training Trifecta (Zelda Would Be Proud)

Setting goals for gamification in the workplace can sometimes feel like you’re playing the same level over and over again. But if you take the time to define goals based on three important factors, you should be able to narrow down issues like delivery method, achievements and user motivation.

First, you need to ensure that the experience is conducive to learning, which means excellent content and a qualified SME. Then, it’s time to address business simulation, which means helping your learners prove that they grasp the material through quizzes, scenarios or role playing. Finally, a fun factor comes into play: Do your learners actually want to engage with the module? Entertainment and fun should balance out the experience.

Tracking Responses (Your Initials on the High Score List)

One of the best parts of gamification is the ability to build response and evaluation methods directly into the game. While evaluation tests or scenarios help you ensure that your learners grasp the material, they also serve as a motivation factor to keep playing. Scoring against peers, earning points or leveling up help your learners set their own goals, feel accomplished and play to win.

Combine Blended Learning with User Assessment – & Two Companies Leading the Way

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When you’re teaching a large, multigenerational group, it’s almost impossible to tailor the learning experience to suit every learner – or is it? A blended learning model can help personalize subject matter for time, learning techniques and even personal preference, but it requires big changes to the way you think about training. Some of the success stories can help you create a foundation upon which to get started – er, blended.

Blended Learning Basics

With blended learning, you nix the notion of all in-class or all-virtual training. Instead, you gather bits and pieces of different methods to create a fully customizable module. Perhaps you ask learners to watch a video at home and then create a class-time presentation. Maybe an e-course is used in conjunction with a pop quiz or role playing. The main benefit is that blended learning allows instructors to see and analyze user participation and understanding, ideal for assessment purposes.

Assessment Methods

How can you be sure your learners are grasping the materials if you have no way to measure their understanding? Blended learning is the ideal method for quizzes, discussion, role playing and feedback. Allowing your learner autonomy in the way he navigates he material and assessing his understanding afterward means you help your users learn in the most effective method for them, which may or may not be the same among your learners.

Smart Solutions from Events to Tech

When Ticketmaster noticed that their customer service left a lot to be desired, they switched to a blended learning model that combined self-paced custom eLearning with real-world practice that could be observed and assessed for on-the-spot feedback.

Similarly, computer giant CDW found itself lacking when it came to a unified user experience. They made the switch to a synchronous learning platform to allow both in-office and satellite workers the same blended learning resources and tools. Those e-tools were then combined with hands-on experience where learners could practice their skills and become better employees.

Both companies proved that making the switch to a blended learning method means a more customizable experience, but more importantly, a better way for instructors to assess the effectiveness of the module.

Break Down Silos With In-House Social Learning

By | eLearning Solutions | 8 Comments

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When a silo mentality seizes the corporate workplace, the downward spiral begins. “Guard the knowledge” leads to “us vs. them,” and declining morale stifles creativity. In-house social learning reverses the trajectory by encouraging interaction and cross-pollination. The question is how to ease into it to take the organization from compartmentalization to collaboration. A series of simple, incremental changes can lead to a sea change in your organization.

Introduce Data Integration

Data silos go hand in hand with worker silos, resulting in duplication of effort. Let more data flow from a central server to all departments to help unravel the silofication. The people will begin to cross-pollinate the data. It’s a natural opportunity for social learning and social interaction to take place. As duplication drops, efficiency and effectiveness increase as one department improves on another’s original implementation. So many wins for so little effort!

Incorporate Interdepartmental Blended Learning

With the many benefits of eLearning, it may seem odd that we’re talking about “live trainings.” Variety is the spice of life, and an experiential, interdepartmental training that includes role-playing or other game-playing opportunities can encourage teamwork. Video the role-playing sessions and post behind your firewall. Include the best ones in future eLearning modules. Follow up on eLearning with an online area for learners to congregate and receive peer assistance.

Ditch the In-House Organ

Are you still killing trees with a company newsletter? Set up an in-house blog with several new posts each day. Schedule educational pieces as well as company news, profiles, announcements, etc., and assign topics to various departments. Encourage comments to increase understanding and break down silos.

The original genius behind Southwest Airlines’ corporate culture and success was each front-line employee holding several positions. Encouraging social interaction and data accessibility is the quickest way to break down your silos—and technology speeds the process. When the silos fall, understanding increases and innovation multiplies.

 

Storytellers: Improving Training Using your eLearning Script

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Everyone has had the misfortune of sitting through a bland training session. And even if the subject matter isn’t exactly riveting, the voice-over script doesn’t help matters when it’s boring, tired and drab. If you want to get learners excited about a topic, it’s time to test out your storytelling skills. The right script can take any topic and make it relatable, interesting and – dare we say it? – fun.

The Plot Line Thickens

The plot line should be the actual “meat” of your script: The important stuff that needs to be said. To get help sketching out the plot for your story, turn to your SME. A subject matter expert can help you drill down to your must-have points while adding in some “nice to have” tidbits. After speaking to your SME, you should have a general idea of the shape of your script so you can start writing your story.

Make a Personal Narrative

The more personal your script’s narrative, the more your learner relates to what’s being said. Think about a training session on customer service: You could talk about when to use a certain technique, or you could create a scenario your learner really understands. “Picture yourself talking to a customer,” or “Have you ever felt this way?” immediately link your learner to the material, which creates a personal experience and a more effective script.

Pacing

Take it easy: There’s no need to rush through your story. In fact, there’s a good chance that you’re trying to cram too much into your script. An effective narrative involves proper pacing, breaking information into smaller chunks that are easier to understand and process. Cut out the corporate speak, loosen up your tone and then work to ensure that your pacing gives your learners plenty of time to digest new information and you’ll have a story worth telling.

All Access Pass: How mLearning Streamlines the Onboarding Process

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This isn’t your Grandpa’s onboarding: As organizations realize the vast impact of proper new employee orientation, a surge toward innovation means solid development for prepping new hires for their responsibilities. One of the best (and most convenient) ways to bring your onboarding process into the 21st century is through mLearning. Not only does it mean utilizing tools your new hires already have, but it means 24/7 access to materials, how-to’s and eventually, a better-oriented employee.

Customizable Apps for Seamless Transitions

You want to make an impression on your new hires from day one: It’s the best way to create enthusiasm and make employees feel like part of the team. But traditional onboarding efforts can feel cold and corporate. Using mobile learning is decidedly more casual, allowing for branded apps and customized user experience. New employees can access information on their time and according to their interest levels, without having to stick to someone else’s schedule.

Social Integration for Greater Collaboration

It’s official: Younger employees prefer to learn in a social environment. When you force them through an onboarding process that requires tons of independent reading or long workshops, you could miss out on the benefits of social learning, like discussion and collaboration. Allowing learners to access chats, branded social networks and forums all from their phones mean they start their experience completely connected to the organization.

Live Streaming for On Demand mLearning

You know that onboarding doesn’t end after the first day or even the first week. Instead, it’s a constant process until new hires are fully integrated. Uploading hints, tips, quizzes and other reminders to your learners’ phones means they have live and constant access to learning materials – the perfect way to stay in the know while using minimal company resources.  Armed with the right onboarding materials and access to tutorials, games, achievements and other helps, new hires can feel like a part of the team in no time.