Blended learning to develop hidden potential
This article introduces SLR’s Virtual Learning Environment and explores how using a blended learning approach when it comes to training your workforce can provide many benefits.
Businesses share some common needs for success; a capable workforce that’s fully engaged, with structure and processes to ensure that everyone does what’s expected. We appreciate this requires a shared vision, management alignment, and a mix of individuals who can demonstrate they have the knowledge, skills, experience and attitudes to deliver what’s needed, day after day.
Organisations are often facing continual changes and often a reducing or transient workforce with a reliance on smaller numbers of experts. Additionally, some businesses have been in service for many decades and detailed knowledge may only be held by a few people. These situations can lead to a loss of knowledge and organisational competence which may result in incidents and poor business performance, all of which will ultimately increase costs.
Although the traditional approach to training has served our clients well, providing an opportunity to challenge experts, share ideas and experiences, and relate theory and practice through contextual learning, it does have some limitations. Not least in relation to time and cost because of the need to bring individuals together at fixed locations. With growing business pressures, it is also becoming increasingly difficult for people to escape for days at a time, making attendance on rolling programmes almost impossible for some.
With an aging population and understanding the need to help companies identify, capture and retain knowledge and competence we have adapted many of our training courses to create blended learning programmes that can be tailored to individual needs. Traditional teaching methods are still used but much of the standard material can now be delivered through activity-based interactive modules within the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). This means that learning can take place using laptops, tablets, and even mobile phones, so it can take place anywhere at any time. Information can be uploaded to enable storage, sharing and allow the re-use of knowledge. This storage and re-use ability allows the VLE to become a knowledge repository of information, allowing the context of how information should be used, which is crucial to its correct application, making it an ongoing reference source.
Whilst e-learning is not a silver bullet, and the advantages of learning together should not be underestimated, it does bring many benefits. Standard and bespoke training modules can be combined into sequences and groups, with each module building on the outcomes of the previous ones, to create flexible learning paths for individuals, teams, or departments. Learners can also start and stop at any time, fitting lessons in and around daily schedules. This means that they don’t have to dedicate an entire day to training that has been organised by someone else in the business and can instead progress a topic at a time, at a pace to suit their own needs and learning style.
Another key benefit of this blended approach is that it allows us to bring individuals together on a single programme even though they may be starting with different levels of understanding and experience. The basics can be covered through tailored self-study so that learners can be brought together in the classroom or workplace to really start to build on common foundations, developing, applying and testing what they have learned through workshops and practical exercises alongside peers.
SLR work closely with organisations to develop course materials to support the proposed delivery model. They are often based on our existing courses, mapped to accredited training programmes and just as importantly, to the organisation’s management systems and procedures, utilising specific examples and learning points from within the organisation where possible to bring the training to life by making the materials relevant to the learner.
Course materials, including pre and post course resources, can be uploaded to the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) to provide not only a record of knowledge covered for each individual learner but also as a system for capturing knowledge for maintaining organisation competence.
The VLE therefore provides for learners to return to the materials for refresher training either as the learner demands or as set by the organisations.
Competence requires a focus on organisational learning and involves increasing and disseminating knowledge out to the organisation. As a result, managing knowledge is a key aspect of an effective Competence Management System and the VLE allows organisations to better identify, capture, record and use their current knowledge to manage risks, improve competence and reduce costs, including a structure to retain people based knowledge and succession planning.
SLR’s training and events have now reached nearly 400 companies and over 4,500 individuals. What’s more, our programme of courses is extensive, and many have been adapted to meet specific requirements using traditional delivery models that employ face-to-face training in the classroom, supported where necessary by workshops or work-based activity. Contact us to find out more about how we could help your business.