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Trainers: Create a Successful Blend

Thursday, July 10, 2014
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Manager: We need a better system for onboarding our new hires.

Trainer: Ok, let’s schedule an orientation class Monday at 10 a.m. in conference room A. I’ll revisit the agenda and tweak it a bit. They just aren’t paying attention most of the time.

Manager: Hey, what’s all this I am hearing about something called blended learning? Does that mean they do it all on their own on their cell phones or something?

Trainer: Uh...no. I don’t think so. We don’t really have experience with that here, so I’ll just set up the class, ok?

Lather, rinse, repeat! It happens all the time in so many organizations. Let’s jump to the familiar even if we know it isn’t really meeting the goals of the program—much less the goals of the learners.

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When it comes to blended learning, the number of choices can be overwhelming—self paced e-learning, webinars, asynchronous classrooms, synchronous classrooms, mobile learning, coaching, and the list goes on. How do we decide what to do next?

As experienced trainers, we have so many tools available to us already. We know how to design learning based on solid learning objectives: Whether you still love ADDIE or have moved on to SAM, it is a skill we have. You know how to assess your learners: Is it best to test on paper or demonstrate that skill? You know how to work with SME’s, even if getting them to get it on paper might sometimes be an issue! All of these ideas are what goes into developing a successful blend. Still, how do you make it all work?

The way to be successful at implementing a blended solution is to have a systematic approach to your participants’ learning journey. A solid blended design must be approached from that perspective: What do my participants need, when do they need it, and what is the best method to deliver the information? Note here that the answer is not always the latest and greatest whiz-bang, tech toy, but what is best for the learner! For example, an app for their phone may work for some, but what if someone doesn’t have the right operating system to run it? That can often be a tough lesson for you (and your boss) to learn.

This systematic approach is all part of the ASTD Blended Learning Certificate program. This program does not just tell you about an approach to a blend, but actually gets you immersed in that blend. The program takes place with asynchronous elements in advance, one-and-a-half days of face-to-face programming, and then a synchronous virtual session as a group. As learners, you will be fully engaged in the learning process.

I will be leading a group in Boston this August. You also can check out other sessions scheduled throughout the year here. Invest in your learning now, and your organization can reap the rewards as you provide first-class education to your learning population. 

About the Author

Nancy Mikkelsen is passionate about the power of being positive and integrating that concept into everything she does. Nancy has over 25 years of experience in training and development in a variety of organizations ranging from large Fortune 500 companies to not-­‐for-­profit organizations. Her attitude, drive and skill at working at all levels within an organization and her ability to design, develop and deliver training has lead to positive results and a better bottom line. Nancy’s technical background led her to become a strong proponent of using the power of technology to transform learning. 

In addition to an engineering degree and extensive graduate work in Adult Education, Nancy has also been certified in a variety of educational tools such as the Kouzes/Posner Leadership Challenge and Career Coaching. She is also affiliated with Harvard Business Publishing delivering their Leadership Direct and Breakthrough Leadership Programs. 

Nancy is a National Member of ASTD and also served on several local chapter boards during her career. She also serves on several volunteer community boards. She devotes many hours to local community theater in Allentown both on and off stage.

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