Originally, blended learning referred to the use face-to-face and eLearning in the delivery of material. Today the term blended learning can refer to any combination of classroom or in-person session with an online component. Online components can include eLearning modules, discussion forums, mobile tools/resources, podcasts, webinars, and many others. Workplace training has also evolved – gone are the days of sitting in a classroom all day, receiving information and then it’s done. That’s it. Today’s training (hopefully) provides learners with support and tools to apply the knowledge learned after the session is over.
When developing workplace learning or training it is important to remember that the learners are not middle school students, they are adults. These learners bring experience to the table, they understand the need for training and need to be able to apply the knowledge to their jobs. Listed below are a few adult learning principles to consider when developing blended workplace learning sessions:
Adults learn best in an informal situation
Adult learners prefer learning in an informal setting. Laying out a strict course syllabus of content and activities may not be as effective as providing learners with a general overview or agenda, and expectations of the content. This allows the learners to understand what is going to be covered but leaves some flexibility. Adults prefer to have some autonomy and creating parts of the syllabus together can foster a more effective learning environment. Providing a space that encourages discussions, questions, and is open to suggestions will allow the learners to feel comfortable.
Use realistic problems & past experience
Adult learners each bring their own experience to the table during a training session. When developing activities for blended learning be sure to include realistic examples or problems. This will allow you to leverage the learners’ experiences by allowing for group discussions during in-person sessions and also using online forums. Providing learners with online tools to apply their skills can also help bridge the gap from abstract examples to real-life application. This will not only help ensure that the material is understood, it will also ensure that the material is being applied correctly by the learner.
Adult learners want guidance
When creating blended training it is important to ensure that the material is being delivered in a way that guides and leads the learner through the concepts and materials and doesn’t simply tell them what is right and wrong. Remember, each learner is arriving with their own experiences and may interpret the material differently than others. Using both in-class and online methods can help learners make meaningful connections with the material.
Workplace training continues to evolve with the almost constant introduction of new technology and tools. Organizations have the opportunity to deliver training in new and exciting ways by blending classroom sessions with online tools. For this reason, a blended learning approach has become a very efficient and effective way to deliver training. While there are many different combinations of blends it is especially important to consider the audience when developing training, and to consider adult learning principles – adults bring their own experiences, prefer informal learning environments and require guidance, not direction while learning.
Renée Lewis, Account Manager