The number one driver for using technology in your learning strategy is to improve learning access and flexibility. That’s according to learning benchmarking organisation Towards Maturity in its latest research covering 600 L&D professionals around the globe.
However, it’s frustrating that Towards Maturity’s research shows that only 43% of respondents are actually achieving this goal. There are, according to the research, a range of reasons for this including cost, unreliable IT, line manager reluctance and a lack of skills to implement learning technologies.
So far, not so good. But what if there was a way to improve learning access and flexibility? One that enables you to fit your approach to your organisational context, learner needs and your budget? The good news is that there is a way to do this. And even better, you probably already know what it is.
The answer to improving learning access and flexibility is to develop a blended learning strategy. Yes, you read that right. A blended approach to learning.
Before you ask, ‘Haven’t we been here before?’ let’s take a look at what a blended approach really looks like in 2017. One thing it isn’t is a classroom sandwich. Access and flexibility does not equate to a face-to-face event with some eLearning and assessment for starters and dessert.
No, what blended represents now is a new way of approaching learning in your organisation, and this is being driven by your learners. The Towards Maturity research shows that 69% of employees want to be able to do their jobs faster and better, 65% like to learn for their own personal development and 57% want to increase their productivity. Your learners want to do a good job – they are receptive to great learning.
The research also provides L&D professionals with some very strong indicators as to what great blended learning might look like. The clues are in what stops people from learning online. These are all surmountable and are not costly:
59% lack the time they need for self-study
35% find learning content unsurprising
26% find current online learning is not relevant to their need
26% can’t find what they need
The fact is that learners are telling L&D what they want. They want to easily access resources and in their own time and way. They want access and flexibility.
This is exactly what a blended learning strategy can provide. How? By starting with the business and performance need and an understanding of how learners want to learn.
Be clear on the performance challenges you are looking to solve and talk to your learners about the best way to help them overcome those challenges.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But, 62% of L&D believe their people lack the skills to manage their own learning. That compares with 82% of learners who know what they need to learn to do their job. Access and flexibility starts with understanding the challenge that needs overcoming.
Once you are armed with this information you can start to shape your blended offering. This will be designed with, not for, your employees.
It will also enable learners to access learning resources when they need them most, which means on the job, on the way to work, at lunch, in breaks and in the evenings and at weekends. The vast majority of your learners own a smart phone so they have the means to access resources at work and on the go.
The beauty of a blended approach is that it provides a mix of ways to access learning. In this sense, it provides a lot of flexibility for learners. What that mix looks like will very much depend on the performance and business need and the context of the learner. Your blend will only be effective if it is designed in this way. Designing blended learning based on what you think your employees need simply won’t cut it any more.
Meeting the needs of your learners is not to be underestimated. In this year’s Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report, careers and learning is the second most important trend behind creating the organisation of the future.
Interestingly, the report authors highlight the fact that learning is becoming more important as the concept of a career, especially a career for life, is coming under threat. They say the antidote for employers is learning: “The concept of a ‘career’ is being shaken to its core, driving companies toward ‘always-on’ learning experiences that allow employees to build skills quickly, easily and on their own terms.”
So, learning access and flexibility are important now and will become even more so in the future. This is the catalyst for developing a contemporary blended learning strategy – one that starts with the business and performance need and that is designed with learners at its heart.
What the blend will look like is dependent on the context of your organisation. One thing is for sure – it will provide many ways for learners to access resources and at times that suit them.
About the author – Stephanie Morgan:
Stephanie Morgan is Director of Learning Solutions at Bray Leino Learning. Stephanie is passionate about helping clients and their people thrive in an ever changing world and works with those responsible for Learning & Development in their organisations to deliver skills change, behaviour change or knowledge change with practical, affordable and effective solutions.
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