This post was originally published by Mitch Causey on lessonly.com
Just because more workplaces conduct their learning online doesn’t mean you need to ditch face-to-face training altogether. In fact, the importance of offline training has only grown in importance with the rise of online programs, but you need a degree of planning to leverage the two seamlessly. We’ve put together some best practices for moving toward a more integrated online and offline training program.
What is integrated training?
Higher education has already accomplished this blending of learning methods. While the parallels between the college classroom and your corporate office don’t always line up, we can still glean great insight from this industry’s transition. A report by the International Association for K-12 Online Learning offered this definition for blended learning:
Blended learning should be approached not merely as a construct, but rather as a fundamental redesign of the instructional model that has the following characteristics:
- A shift from lecture to student-centered instruction in which students become active and interactive learners.
- Increases in interaction between student-instructor, student-student, student-content, and student-outside resources.
- Integrated formative and summative assessment mechanisms for students and instructors.
The switch from offline to online or integrated learning systems boils down to the difference between dictated knowledge and shared learning. Dictated knowledge is top-down, instructor-led, and strict in the information presented. This model of “absorb this knowledge that I give you” stands opposite shared-learning, which encourages collaboration, freethought, and multiple ways of taking in information. A training program that includes characteristics of both styles of learning will benefit your company most.
The pieces you want to keep
If integrated learning combines offline and online styles, which parts should you keep? Believe it or not, offline and face-to-face training have some great merits. This type of training and coaching will always have a more personal touchpoint for everyone involved. The personal interaction typically allows for more engaged learners and works best for nuanced information. However, you can’t scale face-to-face learning. Managers and team leaders who run from meeting to meeting with their employees can’t effectively do their jobs elsewhere in the company. And presentations to large groups of people often don’t get the point across as they should.
Alternately, online learning offers unmatched interactivity between learners and leaders. You need only an email address, and a software like Lessonly can assign and track learning as team leaders assign it to their employees. When you ask learners themselves, one of the main reasons they enjoy online learning is the flexibility it offers. They can complete Lessons on their own schedule, anywhere they have a computer and internet access. By learning on their terms, employees retain greater knowledge when they choose when and where they can learn best. This makes online learning a great place to host important information that might not be critical to everyday operations. On the downside, employees of all levels can often procrastinate when given their own schedule. The disconnect between learners and team leaders can take people out of the learning environment and distract them if you don’t plan properly.
Best practices for learning integration
Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” for moving to an integrated learning program. However, when you thoroughly plan beforehand, you can make the transition much smoother and make the finished product something that can benefit both leaders and learners. Check out these other suggestions and best practices for how to divide the information among your integrated learning program:
- Build a knowledge base—With online training software like Lessonly, you can easily store basic job information in Lessons. When stored in places like the Learning Library, your employees can access this information whenever they need it. Some employees might memorize it and never need to glance over it again, but for those who need to brush up every few months, they can find it easily.
- Schedule check-ins—Schedule face-to-face meetings throughout the online training process. These will not only help readjust learners who might get distracted, but you’ll be surprised by much more detailed conversations. Without having to spend time going over the basic information during your personal meetings, you open up much more time for nuanced employee development and just general human interaction.
- Don’t copy and paste existing offline documents—For the most part, your paper documents and presentation slides won’t always fit perfectly into an online learning system. Offline training historically centered around a presenter or teacher who would explain the information, giving context critical for your team’s understanding. Taking out that context and throwing it into an online learning software is a recipe for disaster. It will take time up front, but deciding what documents work online and what works offline will ensure success of your training goals.
If you’re ready to take the plunge into an integrated training effort, consider Lessonly. Get a demo.