Blended learning is becoming the standard model for instruction. Many organizations blend face-to-face instruction with online learning, and others implement creative, unique methods for their audience and business objectives. Check out these examples and see whether one sparks ideas for your needs:
Ticketmaster is enhancing classroom training with job aids, synchronous live training and electronic support tools to merge work and learning. Chris Stewart, instructional technology manager, uses knowledge banks, mentoring and shadowing as additional components.
“We want to provide the knowledge in the classroom through a webinar or a self-paced class and complement that with a real-world opportunity to demonstrate and practice those skills with a mentor or explore that knowledge through a shadowing opportunity,” Stewart said. “You can’t truly replicate the workplace in the classroom or virtually, so the blended learning pieces that are outside of the normal training scope become powerful development tools.”
Jones International University
Jim Bertelsen, instructional design manager, uses online communities of practice, group blogs and wikis to “extend the conversation long beyond the duration of the course, retain only those who are interested and bring in others who may not have been in the course to begin with. You could never have as much focused discussion in a room as you can in an online environment.”
Target works to be on the cutting edge of retail, fashion trends and pop culture, and its approach to learning is also cutting-edge. Target is experimenting with new collaboration tools such as blogs, wikis and podcasting while maintaining a balance with traditional forms of teaching and facilitation.
“Evaluating our current training programs often involves re-engineering current courseware and traditional instructor-led training (ILT) to include more blended learning solutions,” said Michael Sunnarborg, senior training specialist. “These solutions may range from providing coaching workshops, facilitated e-learning or opportunities for learners to attend an open lab.”
Chief Learning Officer Don Vanthournout has implemented a blended learning program for senior executives that includes a high-fidelity simulation of senior executive experience.
“To be successful, our most senior executives need to bring together a variety of skills — both people skills to negotiate with clients and manage others, as well as business skills,” he said. “Their blended learning solution combines face-to-face role-plays of client meetings with an online business simulation that models a large client engagement. Whatever happens in the meetings affects the business simulation and vice versa. Our senior executives have a chance to practice the most difficult parts of their job and get candid and rich feedback on their performance.”
Alysa Parks, learning and development director, uses blended learning as a critical strategy to enhance performance.
“Our goal is to leverage the best variety of tools and vehicles to meet diverse business objectives,” she said. “For example, CDW recently developed Wired, a comprehensive technology skill development program that contains online assessments to drive customized learning paths and self-paced e-learning to develop base-line skills. Wired also provides synchronous distance learning to reach remote co-workers, classroom workshops for hands-on experience and online performance support tools to sustain just-in-time needs.”
All these approaches share attributes: the blurring of work and learning, creating online collaborative and social environments, personalization, unique combinations and a holistic approach. These attributes are what organizations need to focus on to reap the benefits of innovative blended learning.
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