It's inevitable that we are always looking for the best way to train. We try different approaches and find that some work better than others, but it's doubtful that any of us have stumbled upon the best method out there. Maybe that's because there simply isn't one. Adults learn in such different ways that some methods work better for each individual. One solution that does seem to work better overall, however, is to use a blended learning method to your instructional design.
What is Blended Learning?
According to Wikipedia, blended learning is "a formal education program in which students learns at least in part through delivery of content and instruction via digital and online media with some element of student control over time, place, path, or pace." Basically this means that instruction is delivered in more than one training modality and the students have some element of control over their learning.
Activate the Senses
If you've read previous blog entries, you know that we've talked about adult learners having preferences about how they learn best. A blended learning approach helps ensure that you reach all of your students, whether they are visual, auditory, or kinesthetic/tactile learners. It only makes sense that reinforcing training by activating more senses helps ensure that the knowledge is retained longer.
The common approach many eLearning instructional designers use is:
- Tell: Explain what you want students to know or what you want them to do.
- Show: Demonstrate the activity, or show them what you just told them via a visual reference of some kind.
- Do: Allow students to try it out for themselves and actually do the activity. If it's not something that they can physically do, have a way for them to do something related to it- whether it be finding the policy you referenced or something similar.
- Apply: Give students an opportunity to apply this knowledge in a real live example of how they might encounter it on the job.
The first two steps in this process may be instructor lead in a classroom, or are more passive processes in an eLearning environment. Students are seeing and hearing the information. The last two steps, students are physically interacting with the information and manipulating it themselves. This interactive piece is critical to successful retention of the information. Students may want to repeat the last steps multiple times before moving on to new concepts.
Blended Learning Success
For students, an eLearning module that incorporates a blended learning approach is going to be more enjoyable than one that is composed of entirely passive training. With presenting information in multiple formats, students have the chance to learn the material in a number of different ways. Chances are, regardless of their individual learning style, at least one segment of the instruction will be spot on to their personal preferences.
Depending on the LMS platform used to present the blended training modules, instructional designers and training coordinators have the advantage of student test/quiz results to determine whether or not their training was effective. If students are having difficulties, additional instruction or examples may be needed in an area. Overall, a blended learning design meets the needs of all your students and helps ensure overall knowledge retention.