You have likely heard the term ‘Blended Learning’, or have even had a go at running a program of this nature. It has started to become a somewhat trendy phrase, but the nuances of leading a well thought out blended learning or training program, are more complex than you may think. Creating a seamless experience that moves from online to offline and back again, is not an easy task, but it’s very doable and super powerful when done right!
In this short piece, I will share some very simple and tangible tips about how to conceive, plan and implement a compelling blended learning program. Leveraging years of direct experience and intelligence culled from our entire team, across a range of digital platforms, industries and program types, we will provide you with actionable steps to begin to design a best in class blended learning/training program.
Likely the most important thing to consider in running your program or training, is to treat it like it is an agile development sprint. Essentially, you will want to frame your program; do some discovery; create your initial MVP; test it and iterate! Here are the tips to help you begin:
STEP 1: What’s the blend?
Think about what can be done online, and what must be done in person.
- Be very cognizant of the ‘what must be done’ part. Getting many people together (sometimes across different time zones) can be challenging, so it’s key to be thoughtful about what will be most impactful in person. Sometimes this is clear, other times it takes additional conversations with potential participants and stakeholders to uncover this information. ‘Do your due’ (diligence)!
STEP 2: Customer/participant Insights
Interview or survey your past or prospective participants
- This will help you unlock their true needs and desires, enabling you to create a program of real value.
STEP 3: Create the learning experience design for your training
- Start simply in a google or word doc. Begin to frame the experience, so that you can see the flow. Include things like screenshots of videos and images that will be used online, and prompts for deeper inquiry and reflection.
STEP 4: Choose an aligned digital platform
- This part is extremely important, as the type of digital tools you use will greatly inform the flow of the learning experience, the motivation that people will feel, the ease with which you can manage the program, and the outcomes you seek to engender. We have created a separate guide, just about this, that you can access if you are interested in learning more about blended learning design methodologies and how to most effectively leverage online tools. We support many transformational companies, schools and nonprofits in creating their powerful blended learning experiences, and are happy to share more about what we do and how we partner with folks to help in their learning design, create custom features or provide deeper training in blended learning: Setup a consult.
STEP 5: Craft your ‘MVP’ and run an initial Pilot
- Once you have selected your online approach, you can begin to take your learning experience design (program scaffolding) doc, and apply the online portions to their respective platform (s).
- We recommend that you run a small pilot with 10-30 people. This will allow you to most easily run and support this initial program, and learn about what works and what challenges were faced in a short amount of time (which is the goal!). TIP: Include some goal metrics at the outset of this pilot: we want 15 people to join the live video; we want 10 people to complete the entire course. Setting measurable goals while designing your programs helps to ensure that your goals are appropriately tied to your program scaffolding, and that you can track results in a timely fashion, starting with this first pilot.
STEP 6: Gather learnings
- Once you’ve completed your pilot, you can begin to gather learnings. Whether you created a survey as a self assessment to gauge initial knowledge, share a post survey about what people liked and did not like, or spoke with participants about the experience, this is the time to coalesce that information.
STEP 7: Begin to create your full, blended program
- The final step in this process is to take your learnings, and use them to inform your full course. Now you can craft an experience that has been tested at least once, and continue to iterate in the future!
I hope that this has helped you begin to visualize your dynamic blended learning program. Stay tuned for more blogs about how to inspire your audience, keep them motivated and supporting one another.
If you’d like to learn more about how to craft your compelling blended learning experience, sign up for a free discovery session with one of our experts here!