eLearning, Traditional or Blended: How to Choose Your Learning Method
Many businesses in the 21st century will thrive or decline by how well they train their employees to creatively tackle and solve all the challenges they run into from day to day as well as enhancing the skills and knowledge needed to execute their tasks and responsibilities. But while the need for any company to have robust learning, training and development programs is a no-brainer, when it comes to figuring out how to choose your learning method, many leaders and managers are left scratching their heads. There’s traditional instructor-led face-to-face classroom learning, eLearning and various ways to blend the two. How do you go about sorting it all out and making the right choice? Here are some things to keep in mind.
Ask About eLearning First When it’s Time to Choose Your Learning Method
You may have thought that the first point I’d make in this article would be something about choosing the method that best fits the material and learning objectives that need to be taught. Yes, that’s true, but there’s a danger in doing that as well. Although much progress has been made in eLearning gaining a foothold in many companies, there is still a surprising amount of traditional learning and training happening in corporate America – and it’s not necessarily because it’s the best fit for the material or learning objectives. For companies that have yet to take a deep dive into eLearning, traditional modalities are often embraced by default.
To prevent yourself from just falling back on old ways of learning and training, get yourself into the habit of first asking yourself – is there a way these learning objectives could be met through eLearning? After all, life in the 21st century is becoming increasingly digitized, and your company’s learning programs need to follow suit or become hopelessly outdated. You have to force yourself to adopt an eLearning frame of mind if you want to reap its many benefits, but that will never happen as long as you keep defaulting to the older traditional ways of training and learning. Once you get used to this way of thinking, you’ll be surprised at how much material you previously thought was best handled by traditional modalities would, in fact, be better handled through eLearning.
When eLearning is Your Primary Method, Blended Learning Comes Next
With an eLearning mindset driving how you choose your learning method, then the only time you’ll deviate from eLearning is when there are specific skills and procedures that would be best taught with face-to-face instruction and demonstrations. In most cases, you’ll find that eLearning can handle most if not all of what you teach, and you’ll only need to occasionally blend in some face-to-face sessions for key pieces of the puzzle. If it helps, just keep reminding yourself that the vast majority of your people do not want to spend hours and hours sitting a classroom bored out of their skulls, which is the preconceived notion many will have about traditional learning and training methods – and even more so when the topics are required compliance trainings.
Additional Dimensions to Consider
If you keep asking yourself how you can teach any given material through eLearning, you’ll rarely have to turn to other methods, but some of the dimensions used to help drive how you choose your method include the following:
- Number of learners: As the number of learners increases, eLearning becomes increasingly attractive. Not only will the material be presented in a completely consistent and uniform manner, eLearning also opens up the possibility of people engaging it when and where it makes the most sense to them.
- Location of learners: If your learners, whether few or many, are widely dispersed across distant geographies, eLearning makes more sense, and will also save your company a lot of money that would otherwise have to be spent on travel for both learners and instructors to attend face-to-face sessions.
- Content: And now I will finally mention content in more detail, but with the caveat that you should never just assume that any given topic is best taught in a traditional classroom setting. Challenge yourself first to figure out how to teach it through eLearning. For example, many people just assume that “soft skills” or “people skills” are best taught in the classroom setting, but that’s simply not true anymore. Plenty of learning programs have figured out how to effectively teach even soft skills in the eLearning environment.
Given the brave new digital world of the 21st century, companies everywhere need to prioritize eLearning as the first choice when it’s time to choose your learning method. There may well be times when a blended approach also makes the most sense, but there should be very few courses, programs or modules that rely solely on traditional classroom approaches.