Of course, you know that blended learning, in essence, as a framework, drives a connection between various instructional methods. It is the amalgamation of a variety of modern learning needs and business expectations. Most commonly, a part of the learning takes place over digital or online media and then some more through instructor-led classroom sessions. Much of the learning is directed by the learners (time, the pace, and place). It sets out to offer the best of all worlds and it often offers a unique learning experience.
Because it strives to establish a balance between traditional learning methods and learning objectives driven by technology, the benefits of blended learning may surpass just the traditional learning methods. For instance, it often leads to better engagement and achievement.
However, like every other learning method, the road to blended learning is also beset with a number of challenges. Here’s a list of some of those challenges and how you can overcome them in a blended learning environment.
Challenge: Not all Participants Can Successfully Use the Technology
The first challenge on our list is that not all participants may be proficient in using the technology used in the learning method. Discomfort or frustration with the technology may lead them to abandon the course midway. And that’s not good for anyone.
Solution: The solution for this is to opt for a customized technology strategy that is based on your learner demographics. That is, understand the skill level of all the potential participants of the course, how comfortable they are in using certain technologies and make it a point to not overwhelm them with a mishmash of several technologies at once.
In case you still need to use advanced technology in the course, have trained support available, who can guide the learners by providing answers to their most pressing problems. Alternatively, offering them an elaborate demo and walkthrough of the course material can also help and drive the learners to participate.
Challenge: Managing and Monitoring Progress
When we talk about challenges in blended learning, managing and monitoring the progress of the participants is a key roadblock that needs to be addressed. Learners can be easily distracted due to a combination of learning environments. They may not know where they stand in the course and it may become hard for the L & D team to track that as well. Of course, tracking the progress will give the learners a sense of accomplishment and help them set goals for themselves.
Solution: The solution begins with assessing the components of the LMS that enable ongoing progress identification and monitoring. Find out whether the LMS includes features that let you monitor, track, and use the assessment results to see how much the participants have progressed. Identify how transparently this information is available to the learners.
Challenge: Picking and Choosing the Best Approaches
The next hurdle is to define which is the best learning approach to convey each of a broad range of topics in the blended learning program. This is often a challenge for organizations that include diverse teams working on different initiatives and with different training needs at a given time. Their learning needs are different and therefore, they need to opt for a learning method that can cater to the different needs of these learners coming from varied professional backgrounds.
Solution: The solution here is to match your delivery medium with the objective. This will help the learning achieve the maximum impact. Your course creators and instructional designers could evaluate your business needs and define appropriate learning objectives. In building the learning strategy you could break down the objectives into their constituent elements and define the appropriate approach for each. Some may need bite-sized, self-paced modules and others, instructor-led sessions. Assessing the goals will also help you determine the nature of the course content, be it animated and interactive content or text-heavy content.
Challenge: Keeping Both Mediums in Sync
Blended learning brings together two different mediums of learning. The challenge is to strike a balance between the two without confusing the learners.
Solution: The solution here is to make sure that the program is well-integrated and coordinated. For this purpose, a visual course map may be helpful. It could include the timeline or detailed schedule for the self-paced as well as the traditional classroom sessions. Having a course website or an LMS that includes each and every link for the materials, lesson videos, and other content can help in this. Similarly, having a FAQ section can also prove to be beneficial for the participants to validate their assumptions and not be confused between both the mediums.
Challenge: Increasing Engagement
Increasing participant engagement is another challenge faced by organizations that implement blended learning.
Solution: Put the learner in the driver’s seat. Include a judicious mix of online and offline activities based on your assessment of these needs. Use the classroom sessions for deep dives and complex concepts. Supplement classroom sessions with interactive online elements. The course content needs to be intuitive and there should be some sort of rewards/milestones to encourage learners for continuing with the learning. In effect, drive the blended strategy forward by making the most of each channel.
As you can see, there is no challenge in blended learning so far that can’t be overcome with the right approach in place. The key is to know your learners. The blended learning method opens up immense learning potential, powered by technology and innovation. Have you tried blended learning in your organization yet? Let us know your experience so far!