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Make It Happen: Instructor-Led to Blended Learning


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Every day, more and more L&D organizations are deciding to transition their instructor-led training (ILT) programs to more blended solutions. The transition is easier said than done. A key is to keep the learners’ needs and desired learning results as the primary drivers of change, and use them as a guide to transforming the program.

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Make It Happen: Instructor-Led to Blended Learning

  2. 2. M AKE IT H APPEN : ILT TO BLENDED LE ARNING ~ Share This! ~ Post this to your blog, Twitter™, LinkedIn® or Delicious™ accounts or email this to someone who might enjoy it. Share Remix Attribute Share Alike 11639 E. Wethersfield Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85259 USA Toll-free: 877-614-84402Page © 2010 by Michaels & Associates Docntrain, Ltd. dba Michaels & Associates Copyright holder is licensing this under the Creative Commons License, Attribution-Share Alike 3.0. For more information, check out
  3. 3. M AKE IT H APPEN : ILT TO BLENDED LE ARNINGM A K I N G T HE TR A N S I T I O N FR O MI N S T R U C T O R - LE D T O L E A R N E R - C E N T E R E DEvery day, more and more L&D organizations are deciding to transition theirinstructor-led training (ILT) programs to more blended solutions. Why?Here are just a few reasons:  The high costs involved with delivering traditional classroom training (travel, accommodations, etc.) have organizations rethinking their standard approach.  The needs of a rapidly changing workforce must be addressed with more on-demand solutions.  Employee productivity is essential, so training must be flexible enough to fit workloads and schedules. 3 Page
  4. 4. M AKE IT H APPEN : ILT TO BLENDED LE ARNING The transition is easier said than done. It involves much more than just loading PowerPoint slides into an Factors to Consider e-learning authoring tool, adding some audio narration and calling it a day. If you‟re faced with this challenge, how can you ensure that the blended training is engaging, instructionally sound, effective and The decision to move from ILT to flexible enough to meet your organization‟s needs? A key is to keep the learners’ needs and desired blended solutions should be made learning results as the primary drivers of change, and use them as a guide to transforming the program. carefully after considering many factors such as: With that in mind, you can follow this process:  Learners’ abilities and acceptance of new learning methods. Take a fresh look at the existing ILT program to determine what works Check and what doesn’t, what’s important and what’s extraneous or outdated.  The organization’s readiness for the transition. Pare down the ILT program to the key points by eliminating the “fluff”.  The trainers’ skills for Chop implementing a blended solution.  The cost of implementing new solutions. Group learning objectives and content into meaningful, seamless units. Chunk  Change management and the most effective steps to implement the solution. Question the pared down elements of the ILT to determine how their Challenge effectiveness can be matched or improved in different delivery mediums. This article focuses on how to evolve training materials after all stakeholders buy in to the decision. Change of these steps inonlylearning strategies ILT into new blended solutions using the Let‟s look at each Then, and then, reformat the most effective detail. more and technologies.4Page
  5. 5. M AKE IT H APPEN : ILT TO BLENDED LE ARNINGCheckLet‟s look at each of these steps in more detail. The first step to transitioning your existing program is to check out the existing ILT with a thoroughneeds assessment. Your goal is to re-analyze the learners, learning objectives and business needs to ensure they are still valid today—and will bevalid in the foreseeable future.To assess the learners who will be taking the training, analyze the following attributes: Attribute Considerations Job titles, roles and This will help you determine the learners‟ needs on the job and how the training can support them. More than challenges likely, the existing ILT takes this into consideration, but before transitioning it to a blended solution, make sure you have a crystal clear vision of their responsibilities, challenges and drivers for success. Work locations Make sure you understand the environment in which the learners work. The training, in whatever mode you deliver it, should adapt to the environment. For example, employees who work in offices or cubicles have a broader spectrum of training opportunities than employees in manufacturing plants or on the road. Make sure that the training you offer learners can be completed successfully in their environment or in a more conducive location near their environment. Number to be trained and Will the training be released to the entire company or a focused group with specific job responsibilities? Will training timeframe the training be completed in a short timeframe or over a few months? Your answers to these questions will help you determine the best way to deliver the training to learners. Learners’ interest in the Keeping learners engaged during the training process is vital for knowledge transfer and retention. If the subject matter subject matter is dry or boring, consider ways to make it more engaging or interesting. You can include role plays, games, case studies and other activities to immerse learners in the material. Look at how this is done in the current ILT and start thinking about how you can create these opportunities in the blended solution. 5 Page
  6. 6. M AKE IT H APPEN : ILT TO BLENDED LE ARNING To assess the learning objectives and business needs: Ask yourself the following questions: “Do the current learning objectives reflect the most important needs of the business and the learners?” When answering this question, you can rank the existing learning objectives on a scale from „essential/appropriate‟ to „unimportant/outdated‟. You might discover new learning objectives to address during this process, so rank them too. This ranking will help you determine what to toss, what to keep, what to add and what to make optional in the new blended solution. “What exactly do we want our audience to know (knowledge), do (skill) and feel (attitude) as a result of the training?” The type of learning to be attained should drive they way in which learners get trained. For example, if the information learners need to attain is knowledge based, they can be presented with the information, but they also need multiple opportunities to assess their understanding and get support when they need it. For information that‟s skill driven, it‟s important to give learners opportunities to practice the skills and related decision-making with hands-on activities and immediate feedback. If you want learners to change their attitude as a result of the training, they need a collaborative, risk free environment where they can share their thoughts and feelings with others before, during and after the training. Along with the learning objectives matrix, you can indicate what type of learning each objective reflects. This will help you chunk learning into appropriate delivery modes later in the process. As with any needs assessment, invite key stakeholders to help with the assessment. Business leaders, managers, subject matter experts, facilitators, employees who have taken the training and employees who would benefit from the training can provide very valuable input.6Page
  7. 7. M AKE IT H APPEN : ILT TO BLENDED LE ARNINGChopWith your needs assessment complete, you have a great foundation for restructuring your training. Now it‟s time to get rid of the clutter. Go throughthe ILT materials and match the content to the learning objectives. Ask yourself "For the audience to accomplish this objective, what exactly do weneed to cover?" Then, refer to your needs assessment ranking matrix and delete any unimportant/outdated content from the participant guide,facilitator guide, slide presentations and other materials. Keep the essential/appropriate content. What about all the content that ranked somewhere inthe middle? You can choose to:  Keep it so it can be repurposed as supplemental or optional training.  Archive it in another format for historical reference.Remember, though, you do need to provide contextual information to support effective learning, so be sure to keep introductions, transitions from topicto topic and conclusions.Chunk Here’s a good rule of thumb: See if you can break trainingNow that you‟ve cut the extraneous information, think about how you can group the remaining down so each chunk would takecontent into the smallest possible learning chunks. How small should the chunks be? Cognitive no more than 10 minutes toload theory states that a learner‟s short-term memory can store a very limited amount of new complete, despite the deliveryinformation (5-9 bits) at a time, and the more technical the information, the shorter it will stay mode. Otherwise, your chunkthere. Chunking when you create the blended solutions will help you present small pieces of may be too large to be digested.content that learners can quickly digest and move to more permanent memory. 7 Page
  8. 8. M AKE IT H APPEN : ILT TO BLENDED LE ARNING How do you determine the types of chunks to create? You could chunk the information based on each learning objective, so each objective has its own chunk. You may also choose to chunk based on steps in a process, patterns of similar information or another organizational structure. The chunking technique really depends on the content. After you create your initial chunks, you can put them in multiple groups based on content. You can also determine the sequence that these chunks/groups should be learned, so knowledge builds and is linked to previous knowledge as the learner completes the training. Challenge To continue the process, you should now look at the existing chunks of information and determine the best way to help learners attain and retain the knowledge. The beauty of blended learning is that it allows you to combine the right elements at the right time and in the right way to create optimal learning opportunities. There isn‟t a secret formula to help you create this combination and flow; it‟s all based on the learners‟ needs and the other attributes you assessed. A great way to start this part of the process is to watch the existing ILT in progress and evaluate how your learning chunks are being presented and practiced in the class. As you watch the instruction, ask yourself the following questions:  When will the content raise questions, and how can learners get the feedback they need?  How does the facilitator add value, and how can that be integrated into new blended solutions?8Page
  9. 9. M AKE IT H APPEN : ILT TO BLENDED LE ARNING  How important is the face-to-face contact among participants and the facilitator, and does it need to be in the same physical space?  What other social aspects of the ILT benefit learners, and what are some effective ways learners can get this interaction?  What existing materials (besides ILT) are available to support each chunk?  How does the facilitator prepare participants for each chunk? How can you set the stage for learning?After you see the ILT in action, go back to your needs assessment results and the chunks of learning you‟ve created. Then define a learning strategythat details the learning process and flow. This can be defined in a detailed outline or in a design document. At this point, don‟t worry about thetechnology or format you‟ll use to create the training material; just concentrate on the learning method that will work best. And keep in mind that, evenafter all this planning, some parts of the training might still work best as ILT. 9 Page
  10. 10. M AKE IT H APPEN : ILT TO BLENDED LE ARNING Learning Types Here are some ideas and examples for presenting the essential/appropriate information based on the type of learning required: ~ Knowledge-based Learning ~ ~ Skills-based Learning ~ ~ Changing Attitudes ~ For chunks of knowledge-based learning, For chunks of skills-based learning, you may For chunks that focus on changing attitudes, you may choose to start the learning process choose to introduce chunks of content and you may want learners to get together before as a group, with a “big picture” introduction or then allow learners to immediately practice the training to discuss their expectations and overview. You may want learners to then using the skills in a real-life scenario or current mindset. As they actively engage in discover the basic principles on their own activity. Or you may want learners to the learning process, you may choose to and later meet with a mentor, facilitator or discover the chunks of information as they provide regular opportunities for them to other learners to discuss what they learned. work through multi-phased simulations or discuss their insights with peers, a mentor or You may also choose to assess learners case studies. After activities or phases of the a facilitator. Maybe the learners could do after each group of chunks, to check for case study, you may want learners to meet role-play activities or complete projects to understanding and let learners go back and with a mentor or take an assessment to apply the behaviors they’ve learned. review fuzzy concepts. evaluate their progress and skills mastery. They could even watch and help someone who is performing the skills on the job.10Page
  11. 11. M AKE IT H APPEN : ILT TO BLENDED LE ARNINGAt this point, it‟s also advisable to get the stakeholders involved again. Collaborate with them whendesigning your learning strategy, and pass it by them for review/approval after you‟ve drafted your Let It Flow!strategy. As you can imagine, you‟ll probably formulate lots of ideas on tools/technologies for presentingthe information to learners as you create your learning strategy. It‟s important to just let these ideas To optimize the flow of information as yousimmer in your mind until you‟ve finalized strategy, so you don‟t box yourself in to a solution that may not piece together the learning chunks, try tobe best for the learner. include these methods in each grouping:  Introduce the topic.Change  Provide an overview that links the topic to previous learning and helps form a big picture in the learner’sAfter your learning strategy is finalized, it‟s time to determine the best tools and technologies for your mind.blended solution. As you do this, keep three things in mind: consistency, framework and organization.  Allow the learner to acquire the newYour learning chunks need to be fully integrated in a logical flow, with seamless transitions, to be information.instructionally effective. No matter what delivery format you use, the learning experience needs to be  Let the learner see the newconsistent so learners know what to expect. A blended solution doesn‟t just “happen”; you need to build a information demonstrated.fine-tuned learning engine. Here are some considerations that can help you select the best modality forthe content:  Let the learner practice applying the new information, assessing progress.  Be sure to use the needs assessment results to drive your tool/technology selections.  Provide feedback on the learner’s progress. - Knowledge-based content: Self-paced learning (online courses, self-study workbooks, whitepapers, books) with support (emails, listservs, forums, ILT, webinars and  Review the key concepts. knowledge repositories)  Close the learning and transition to - Skill-based content: learning labs with activity guides, simulations and demonstrations the next topic. - Attitude-based content: collaboration, ILT, discussions, webinars and group projects/presentations 11 Page
  12. 12. M AKE IT H APPEN : ILT TO BLENDED LE ARNING  Consider some of the “tried and true” delivery formats and their appropriate uses in the following table. Delivery Format: E-learning Uses: Large audiences, pre-work before a synchronous learning event, self assessments, content that may be physically dangerous to the learner if practiced “live”, content that requires a lot of practice, content that must be consistent (such as compliance and certification), content that may require insight or reflection; Knowledge, comprehension and application levels of learning Delivery Format: VILT (Virtual instructor-led training) Uses: Small to medium sized team training, skills reinforcement, Q&A, short discussions, introductions and summaries of a learning chunk Delivery Format: ILT Uses: Content that would benefit from physical role plays, collaboration with feedback, soft skills practice, content that requires a high degree of learner support Delivery Format: OJT (on-the-job training) Uses: Hands-on skill application, observation of skills being applied by an expert, repeatable tasks, mentoring, job shadowing; Analysis, synthesis, evaluation levels of learning Delivery Format: Social Media Uses: Large dispersed audiences, best used in conjunction with more formal structured learning formats, content that changes rapidly or is in flux, content that may require insight or reflection, learner-generated content that benefits from collaboration with feedback12Page
  13. 13. M AKE IT H APPEN : ILT TO BLENDED LE ARNING Learners can take your training synchronously (at the same time) or asynchronously (at different times). ILT is an obvious example of synchronous training, but webinars, video conferencing with live chat, online debates, whiteboard discussions and application sharing can also keep learners engaged and motivated in a single virtual setting. Asynchronous can be very beneficial to learners because they can take control of their own learning and do so when it‟s most convenient and appropriate for them. If you‟re thinking about developing asynchronous learning, be sure to consider whether online courses, online scavenger hunts, job aids, videos, etc. can meet your learners‟ needs and the desired learning results. All learning does not have to be in a formal format. There are many innovative, cutting edge informal formats you can use, and you may feel like a kid in the candy shop when trying to select the most appropriate ones to try. Although online courses, self-paced workbooks and webinars may be optimal for some content, learners might also benefit from more informal approaches such as listservs, forums, social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), blogs, wikis and mentorships. A strong blended solution will include formats that best fit the content and can be successful with the corporate/IT restrictions. 13 Page
  14. 14. M AKE IT H APPEN : ILT TO BLENDED LE ARNING  Words might not always be the best way to communicate your message. You can use video, graphics, icons, ideograms, picture stories, knowledge maps and other visual images to relay the information. Don‟t be afraid to think of creative ways to visually communicate your information. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words.  What will facilitators and/or learning administrators need to know to supervise and support learning? Be sure that the formats you choose are intuitive for both learners and those who support them.  Measuring effectiveness throughout a training program is essential. Tools you select to collect and measure data can be as complex as a Learning Management System or as simple as a survey. Remember, learner needs and business goals should be the drivers that help you select the most appropriate tools/technologies. You should also consider factors such as the time and cost to develop the solution, cost of development tools and your team‟s ramp-up time for the new technologies.14Page
  15. 15. M AKE IT H APPEN : ILT TO BLENDED LE ARNINGScenarioTo help you visualize the ILT to blended learningtransformation, here‟s a scenario for you toconsider.Situation: A company with five branch officesthroughout the U.S. conducts monthly newemployee orientation training at its corporateoffice. For this three-day program, employeesfrom all branches come to the company‟sheadquarters. Then they return to their branchoffices for an additional day of training. Thisscenario covers what would typically be coveredduring the first day of the orientation.Process: After checking the existing new hireorientation ILT and chopping out the extraneousand outdated materials, the Learning &Development team grouped the learningobjectives for the first day of training into thefollowing chunks. Then they analyzed the newtopics to develop a learning strategy and flow.Finally, they determined a more effective deliverymethod for each learning chunk. 15 Page
  16. 16. M AKE IT H APPEN : ILT TO BLENDED LE ARNING ~ Synchronous Activities: Morning of Day One ~ Learning Chunk / Current New Blended Delivery Method for the Content ILT Delivery Method Company Overview: The video is posted on Youtube, and each new employee’s manager sends a welcome email with a link to the video. “Welcome to the Company” video delivered by CEO The new hires watch the video before coming to orientation and write a one-minute “elevator speech” about how they perceive their role in the company. Introduction to New New hires meet at their branch offices. A facilitator in the corporate office Hire Orientation conducts a web meeting for all offices so the new hires can meet each other and start the program. They introduce themselves by giving their elevator speech. The facilitator introduces the learners to a special website created specifically for their new hire class. They can use this site to ask/answer questions, share links and meeting invitations and post pictures and information about themselves. Office Tour New hires participate in team scavenger hunts at their district offices. They are provided with a list of questions and key contacts. They must find the key contacts, ask them the designated questions and record their answers. When they have finished, members of each team deliver their answers to a designated supervisor and discuss what they learned.16Page
  17. 17. M AKE IT H APPEN : ILT TO BLENDED LE ARNING ~ Asynchronous Activities: Completed During the Week of Orientation ~ Learning Chunk / Current New Blended Delivery Method for the Content ILT Delivery MethodCompany Policies New hires listen to a series of podcasts on company policies. Each podcasts has aPowerPoint matching job aid that learners receive after listening to the podcast. After completing all podcasts, new hires take an online assessment to verify that theyPresentation understand the policies.Available Resources New hires receive an email that directs them to a webquest, where they search theLab company Intranet to learn more about the resources available to them. When they complete the webquest, they receive an email with a coupon for a free lunch in the branch office cafeteria.Presentation from IT New hires attend individual face-to-face meetings with a mentor or designated ITRepresentative technician. During this meeting, they discuss the software and hardware they will be using on their job, and they are directed to a set of online demos that will teach them how to set up and use the technology. They use online messaging to notify their mentor/technician when they are finished with the demos, and their contact emails them some job aids for the tools. 17 Page
  18. 18. M AKE IT H APPEN : ILT TO BLENDED LE ARNING Testimonials Here’s what other L&D professionals are saying about migrating from ILT to blended learning. These excerpts come from a discussion on LinkedIn— from the Learning, Education and Training Professionals Group. Question: In a recent industry survey, over 60% of the respondents indicated that they were going to migrate from instructor-led classroom training to e-learning or blended learning. Easier said than done, right? Based on your experiences, what advice would you give to help these folks with the transition? Thanks for your thoughts! “It’s important to be aware of the range of “The first step in designing any learning “Part of the role of L&D has to start with the possibilities that [blended learning] opens up. experience (especially when that learning business needs of the company. Although I am For one thing, its a lot easier to have privately experience will be delivered with a new totally on board with assessment of learner coached reflective activities in an online venue medium) is assessment. Assess everything needs, I feel assessment of *corporate* needs than it is in a classroom with lots of students … and everyone. Assess learners’ knowledge and should be right in the mix (and these may not be Group interaction, coached interaction, skills as you would for ILT, but also their the same). The issue is demonstrating that application to live work situations, all can be readiness and preparedness for receiving learners can perform better after a learning organized into an experience that can be even training in an online or blended environment. blend. The assessment should include line more engaging than the classroom.” Assess the organizations readiness for the manager performance metrics. Most line ~ Valerie transition, the trainers/instructors knowledge managers have to provide performance metrics and skills related to online or blended learning to their managers, so there is no reason why and all support personnel for their knowledge they cant provide them to L&D. The next step is and skills related to delivery. When making to determine if and how L&D can affect those such a transition, an organization cannot spend metrics, and to map out a blend that should too much time assessing their own needs for move learners to improve on the metrics. making the transition, and the steps they need Assessment can be used formatively in the to take to cause the least negative impact on blend or summatively, both to improve the quality their learners.” of the blend and the results. Finally, 30, 60 and ~ Cindy 90 day comparisons with the managers metrics can determine whether they have improved..”18 ~ SherryPage
  19. 19. M AKE IT H APPEN : ILT TO BLENDED LE ARNINGDo you need help getting started with your transformation to blended learning? Our consultants have extensive expertise in design anddevelopment of live instruction, e-learning and tailored blended solutions. Contact us today! Michaels & Associates—we put ideas into action. toll-free: 877-614-8440 19 Page