This three-part series explores the essential components of building a blended learning program at work. Part 1 considers the merits of centralizing training in an online learning management system. Part 2 discusses how to implement instructor-led training, or live training, into a blended learning program. And finally, Part 3 investigates the merits and demerits of social learning. Our goal? To help you and your team learn more effectively, practice essential skills, and Do Better Work. Let’s dive in!
Who was your favorite teacher or professor? Hopefully, a few excellent instructors leaped right to your mind. Maybe it was the 6th-grade teacher that went above and beyond to make class fun or that professor who invested extra time to help you succeed. Time with teachers like this is meaningful and engaging. But so often, time in classrooms and training events—especially in corporate settings—feels like the opposite.
In our work with hundreds of companies, we’ve had the chance to partner with and learn alongside some of the best corporate trainers, sales enablement pros, and customer service leaders on earth. One of the things we’ve learned from them is that online learning and in-person classroom training aren’t enemies—they’re best friends.
Blended learning is all about using different formats of training to maximize growth, knowledge retention, and business impact. While many people see online training as a replacement for in-person training, we’re convinced that they’re both valuable and essential to successful training programs. Like two friends, they’re complementary, not competitive. Here are a few examples of when each type of training is best:
- Better for conveying information to a large group across a big geography
- Better for transferring information consistently and concisely
- Better for measuring engagement, satisfaction, and impact
- Better for saving time and money on training
- Better for multimedia learning and practice scenarios
- Better for helping people or teams grasp or discuss complex concepts
- Better for smaller groups in a local setting
- Better for 1:1 connections between peers and teachers
- Better for fostering conversations and answering questions
Many people feel that they have to choose between the two, but strategically pairing them together for blended learning often leads to the best results.
Blended learning is a trainer’s best friend
A great learning management system (LMS) doesn’t just support online courses—it creates strategies, systems, and software that support both online training content and in-person training sessions. In the last blog post, we mentioned how our friends at U.S. Cellular slashed training costs by moving from printed binders to a web-based, cloud-based, LMS platform. But they also implemented a blended learning program.
In the old world, U.S. Cellular managers would receive their printed training material and read it aloud to their teams at in-person meetings. They soon realized that attention, engagement, and retention were lower than they wanted. So they started using elearning courses to deliver information directly to associates. You might be thinking, “Great, we can cancel these in-person meetings!” But U.S. Cellular did something better. They kept the in-person meetings as learning opportunities for their team. Now if there’s a complex new process or a policy that associates are seeking clarity on—they bring it up in the meeting. That makes for better informed, more engaged teammates, and it’s all thanks to a blended learning strategy.
In case you’re still not convinced, here are three reasons to deploy a blended learning strategy with both online learning and instructor-led training:
It’s more efficient
Online training is perfect for deploying learning at scale. Now, instead of flying new sales reps into headquarters multiple times during their first few months, they can learn in their own time and in their own space. And when you do bring them in, that time can be spent getting to know each other and focusing on the hard stuff—rather spending valuable face-to-face time on the basics. That’s not just money saved and time saved, and it’s an opportunity for teammates to grow in a more meaningful way.
It’s more effective
Interactive elearning courses are one of the most underutilized tools in the corporate world. Not only are they an easy, fast way to transfer information to teammates, but they provide a robust online training environment. Rather than simply flipping through Powerpoint slides, interactive lessons enable teammates to actually practice and put the information that they’re learning to use. Maybe that’s actually responding to a mock customer complaint in Zendesk or recording a video sales demo—rather than just reading about how to do them. This also frees up instructor-led training for more meaningful work. When reps have already practiced their demo ten times on the LMS platform, managers can spend the face-to-face time offering valuable feedback and coaching that levels up their teammates.
It’s more engaging
Finally, when online learning and instructor-led training are properly used in tandem, employee engagement skyrockets. Like we mentioned above, both methods of learning have their strengths and weaknesses. When online learning can be used to transfer information and practice applying that information outside of live meeting time, it means that people can learn at their own pace, in a place and time that’s most engaging and helpful to them. Then, when in-person training comes around, that time isn’t spent lecturing, it’s spent on engaging practice and conversations that make reps feel alive and engaged, rather than bored.
If you’re walking away from this post with a single idea, remember this: Online training and instructor-led training aren’t enemies, frenemies, or anything in-between—they’re the perfect pairing. When a training program and a learning management system are designed to utilize both of these learning formats to their greatest potential, that’s when employees start doing better work.
Do Better Work with Lessonly’s learning management software
Lessonly is powerfully simple training software that helps teams learn, practice, and perform like never before. Propel employees towards success with effective onboarding and ongoing training. Learn more and demo Lessonly today.