Understanding which modality to use for what type of content or training is key to making the blend meaningful to the learner. When selecting an approach, you need to consider the content, the audience, and available resources, including technology. In our RTO environment, the content is determined by the unit(s) of competency included in the training product. Another consideration is risk, which may dictate the modality of compliance training.
Risks are inherent in any type of training. There is a false sense of security in corralling students into a room to learn something. In spite of being a captive audience, they still choose whether they want to learn or not. It is partially the trainer’s job to make sure what is being presented is relevant to the learner and gives them reasons to invest in what’s being learned. It’s the instructional designer’s job to create a learning program that engages and gives the learner opportunity for practice, assessment, and, in some cases, application on the job. A blended approach is no different; the same elements must be in place for it to be successful.
In todays regulatory environment, where RTOs are required to demonstrate the amount of training provided, it is important to review and understand the learning process and the mix of activities that constitute the training journey. How will you ensure that learners are completing self-directed activities? Will you have them complete a workbook and upload it to the LMS, or send it to a trainer or coach? Will you require them to complete a test at the end of self-directed learning? Have you built enough interactivity into your virtual instructor-led courses that you force participation, or is it simply a boring lecture that will prompt learners to reduce your screen for an hour and work on email?
Even in this day and age, few RTOs take time to actually measure application. Many transformations from classroom to blended learning happen without any sort of baseline measure of classroom effectiveness, so making a comparison is futile. If you are considering a blended learning approach, make certain that you are putting proper measurements in place so you are able to make improvements where necessary and continue refining your efforts. And don’t forget to ask industry about the learning program, training practices, training resources, simulations, etc. They will tell you much of what you need to know to take it to the next level.
It is amazing that in the 21st century many trainers and assessors still rely on the classroom for most or all facets of vocational training. Blended learning addresses all the aspects of adult learning that a classroom often misses—practice, application on the job, and assessment of performance steps. In addition, there must be some type of performance support to reinforce what has been learned, which a blended approach can easily achieve.
Here’s a breakdown of blended learning modalities:
LEARNING COMPONENT: COURSE CONTENT
- face-to-face trainer-led or virtual trainer-led (synchronous)
- recorded session (asynchronous)
- web-based resource links
- interactive PDFs
LEARNING COMPONENT: INTERACTION (PARTICIPANT-INSTRUCTOR, PARTICIPANT-PARTICIPANT, PARTICIPANT-COACH/MENTOR)
- in person
- interactive chat
- threaded discussion
- e-learning interactivity
LEARNING COMPONENT: PRACTICE
- live hands-on
- role play
- virtual lab
- workplace training
LEARNING COMPONENT: RESOURCES (SUCH AS JOB AIDS AND QUICK REFERENCES)
- online access
LEARNING COMPONENT: ASSESSMENT
- formal pre-assessment and post-assessment
- live demonstrated performance (Observation)
- Written work (Portfolio)
LEARNING COMPONENT: PERFORMANCE SUPPORT
- coach, mentor, or peer mentor, either in person or virtually
- printed, electronic, or online access