Guest blog by B. Lamont Rooker
Senior Communications Consultant with Dougherty & Associates Inc.
As the head of your department or company, you’re constantly facing challenges that, if not handled properly, could cost you time, money, employees, and possibly even your job. In today’s economic uncertainty, one of the biggest challenges you’re probably facing is how to provide your workforce with training opportunities to help develop their skills and prepare them for advancement. Developing and implementing a blended learning approach to your training programs gives your organization the ability to do more with less, while building a higher performing organization and giving your workforce the skills they need to grow and advance their careers.
While the term “blended learning” has recently become the new buzz word, the actual concept or practice has been around for several hundred years.
“It is within human nature to be a blended learner, to gain knowledge and experience via multiple avenues…we have been combining first-hand experience with knowledge that is communicated in order to make the best possible judgments and decisions about our environment.” (See more.)
Today, the term blended learning means combining two or more approaches to enhance learning and development, using face-to-face learning methods (e.g. on-the-job training, instructor-led classroom training, etc.) and some variation of online/virtual learning (e.g. webinars, live e-learning [virtual classrooms], web-based learning modules, etc.). There are several different ways to enhance your workforce’s learning experience, and the following reasons outline why blended learning, when used properly, is one of the most effective ways to train and develop your workforce, while improving your organization’s overall performance.
• Increased interaction and positive learning experience. Blended learning is an ongoing learning opportunity. It appeals to a wide variety of people and accommodates numerous learning styles, leading to a positive experience for your workforce. Your organization benefits from learning because your workforce is working to address “real” organizational problems and, at the same time, adding to their own knowledge and skills. A blended learning approach means they are contributing to the overall success of the organization.
• Increased transfer and retention of knowledge. A blended learning solution provides your workforce with on-the-job training in a structured environment, which gives them the opportunity to instantly apply what they’re learning. The ability to apply what’s been learned strengthens your workforce’s performance, which increases retention.
• Blended learning optimizes organizational resources. Utilizing technology to integrate resources into a single site streamlines the online learning experience. The less time you spend managing sites is more time that you can spend managing and growing your workforce.
Blended learning accommodates many different learning styles. It level-sets the learning environment and ensures that members of your workforce have the same potential to acquire new skills. Adding a blended learning solution to your training and development programs not only improves your workforce, but your overall organization. Providing your workforce with more learning opportunities leads to a more satisfied, more productive and more engaged workforce, which leads to a higher-producing organization.
If you haven’t thought about incorporating blended learning into your training programs before, maybe it’s time you started. If you’re already using blended learning, what combination of delivery methods has been most effective for your workforce? Share your questions and success stories with us in the comments.
B. Lamont Rooker has more than 12 years of communications experience focusing on partnership and community development, communications and social media strategy. Currently, he is a Senior Communications Consultant with Dougherty & Associates Inc., a woman-owned consultancy firm based in Alexandria, Va., where he provides communications support for one of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ major initiatives.