How To Find The Best Blended Learning Approach For Your SMB
If you run your small-to-medium business with a limited mindset, your organization will never grow. You need to maintain big-business thinking, at least in terms of ideation and strategy. The only area where you should “think small” is in relation to expenditure. Don’t overspend or you’ll crash and burn in months. But you should still have big ideas and find creative ways to implement them on a budget. How can you apply this principle to blended training so that you prep your team for future growth and bridge current gaps? Here are some top tips to find the ideal blended learning approach for your SMB.
5 Top Tips To Develop The Ideal Blended Learning Method For Your SMB
1. Survey Your Team To Identify Personal Preferences
The tricky thing about blended learning is it has no template. But that’s also what makes it a flexible training method that’s ideal for any business, large or small. It could be a six-month online course with in-person classroom sessions every week. Or it might be a self-study mobile app where students “meet” for a synchronized video call once a month. It may even be a three-month digital tutorial that closes with a three-day outdoor excursion to wrap things up. Talk to your team about the version of blended learning they have in mind. Have them float ideas, then tabulate their options and ask for a vote. Knowing their input genuinely influenced the course piques their interest and gets them invested.
2. Clarify Gaps And Goals That Align With Business Outcomes
Some kinds of training have clear targets. Compliance courses, for instance, may focus on renewing licenses (and ensuring corporate safety). Other training programs have a more generic aim, like offering “career growth” or simply spending the allocated training budget. For your blended training to succeed, be clear on what the endgame is, both for the organization and for individual trainees. Advancement for its own sake is a waste of time, money, and human resources. Plus, trainees won’t get much out of it if they’re just going through the motions. You should also identify individual skill and performance gaps your employees need to work on, which allows you to choose the best blended learning LMS for their needs. For example, one that supports real-world activities so that they can broaden their experience and bridge interpersonal skill gaps.
3. Determine How Technology Fits Into Your Overall Training Strategy
It’s easy to overlook the online portion of blended learning. You might start with an online course and see which elements can be extracted into the real world. Or begin with a traditional course and sniff out bits to digitize. Neither approach is ideal. Instead, you need to weigh both sides against your organization. For example, how smartphone-savvy is your staff? Can you afford a native app? Which training elements can therefore be offered via app? Or do trainees have to come into the office and use shared computers? What’s the offline-to-online ratio? Which parts of the course should be simulated, and which ones work better as physical tasks? This data also allows you to determine which support tools to develop to ease the transition. For instance, you need to create tutorials to show employees how to log in to the new LMS and access their personal dashboards or certification paths.
4. Verify That You Have The Resources For Face-To-Face Sessions
Continuing that train of thought, what exactly can you afford offline? Can you hire a venue for three days, or is it better to train in-house in smaller batches? Do you want an instructor with a lecture-hall approach, or smaller groups of five or six who do group work in turns? Do you have the budget or time for a two-week workshop, or even a three-day off-desk session? Will your instructors be hired as external consultants, or can you source the talent from among your staff? Based on your budget and available tools, decide—simultaneously—which elements of learning will be online or offline. Work them into a cohesive whole. Keep in mind that blended learning can also involve live events instead of face-to-face courses. These online sessions facilitate collaboration and fulfill the human element of your blended learning approach.
5. Get The Timing Right To Ensure Uptake And Buy-In
Online portions of any training program are easier. Learners can pick their own times, whether it’s their morning jog or their kids’ school run. They can squeeze in two-minute sessions in the elevator or five-minute spurts between meetings. Offline lessons require more planning and may have to be synchronized. It’s not practical to work with one employee at a time, unless it’s a one-on-one feedback session or a paired activity. For group sessions, optimize timing so that everyone is in a relaxed, receptive mood. Otherwise, it just messes everyone’s workday. You also need to promote your blended learning software in advance so that everyone knows what to expect. No matter which approach you choose, there is bound to be some reluctance. Especially for employees who are new to tech and aren’t ready to hop on the blended learning bandwagon.
Getting blended learning right is a complex activity that involves multiple segments. And when you’re running a small-to-medium business, you can’t afford pricy mistakes. So, how do you ensure your blended learning LMS and strategy is the right fit for your team and pocket? Identify trainees’ learning preferences. Spot the business gaps, not just the personal ones. Define the distinct roles of technology and human elements in your training setup. And ensure your offline sessions are timed right for maximal attention, buy-in, and planning purposes.
Choose the ideal blended training software for your SMB and see which vendors offer free test drives. You can use our online directory to view their pricing options, deployment type, and support services, as well as evaluate ratings to see which platform offers the best UX.