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Delivering effective corporate blended learning

by | Apr 7, 2017 | Articles

In an ever changing business environment, how does a Learning & Development function ensure it delivers what the business wants today – while developing employees for tomorrow?

This is not a new dilemma for learning leaders within organisations, but is becoming ever more challenging due to the plethora of available solutions and the rapid changes within technology.

Within L&D, a lot of debate has arisen and been focused on implementing effective 70:20:10 interventions (which states that the largest proportion of learning within organisations is done by the individuals themselves and learnt from on-the- job experiences). This ‘fog’ is potentially blurring the fundamentals of effective L&D which many believe should:

  • Provide training that is aligned to business objectives
  • Be agile and deliver tactical training interventions
  • Deliver development learning opportunities to meet the organisations strategic plans

Raytheon Professional Services’ (RPS) approach with regards to providing a blended learning approach for clients, is to implement a blend of media assets can be used formally, informally and socially. The reason we take an integrated holistic approach when designing interventions is to help organisation’s remove budgetary and cultural constraints that can traditionally block an organisation’s learning objectives. We ensure that learning assets are portable across an organisation’s complete range of learning media, whether that be web based, virtual classrooms, learning games or instructor-led courses These same assets are then utilised to enhance informal learning solutions such as mobile job aids (using smartphones) and are adaptable across a wide variety of social learning platforms such as wiki’s, video portals and managed communities.

 

Blended learning in the automotive sector

A blended learning approach is particularly pertinent for the automotive sector, where competitive advantage is achieved by those manufacturers who can respond quickly to change. Training can help deliver change, meaning manufacturers are under continuous pressure to support and provide training for their sales, after sales or technical employees within their dealership networks. They all want to improve learning access and flexibility, programme impact, alignment to business, training efficiency, workforce productivity and customer satisfaction, and across the sector, 25% of L&D budget is spent on technology.1

The trend to decrease the amount of face-to-face training in favour of a more blended learning programme continues. 40% of all learning is still entirely face-to-face, down from 45% two years ago, but the use of virtual classrooms has really taken off, with 55% of organisations utilising this technology – up from 37% two years ago. However, the automotive sector is just getting off the ground with social and collaborative learning; social networking sites are used in fewer than 1 in 3 organisations and only 11% are using mobile learning.2

Social media and the learning experience

With the rise of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and WhatsApp, we are all becoming more ‘social’ than ever before – messaging, sharing, discussing and collaborating across online social networks in ever increasing numbers. Social learning is now a key part of the ‘blended learning’ experience, with 61% of learners now motivated to learn online by using technologies that enable them to network and work with others.3 But while social learning is an L&D opportunity which organisations can leverage with their younger, social media active workers, there remains a gap between idea and implementation.

Some 89% of Millennials say they want their workplace to mirror social networks – to be more social and fun – and 74% of them also say social technology gives them faster access to knowledge.4 Yet despite this, data shows only 18.5% of organisations say they have implemented workplace social learning technologies ‘fully’, while over a third have yet to implement them at all.5

This is a challenge organisations need to overcome. Raytheon Professional Services is at the forefront of helping organisations integrate social learning into the 70:20:10 learning model. This includes partnering with companies and being able to offer open source Enterprise Social Networks (ESN) to enhance the flow of knowledge and help create the catalyst for collaboration within the workplace.

This best practice in terms of blended learning provides a number of business benefits:

  • The frequent re-use of content consistently re-enforces the learning experience, increasing knowledge retention and helping to reduce time to competency
  • The organisation sees that there is a Red Thread of learning that is aligned to the business
  • L&D spend is maximised for the entire learning population

In summary, the key focus for an organisation wanting to implement an effective blended learning approach for their employees is to ‘bridge the gaps’. The emphasis for an L&D team, or chosen supplier, is to first take into account the different learning styles across the organisation and geographic regions; then design and develop content that is rapidly deployable and easily adaptable across the formal, informal and social learning spaces.

The right learning strategy is never about merely just adding new media or new technology, but rather using technology as an enabler to support the different cycles of learning.

Mark Oliver

Mark Oliver

Mark Oliver is Managing Director of Raytheon Professional Services’ (RPS) EMEA, a unit of Raytheon Company. As managing director for RPS EMEA, Mark has over 20-years Automotive Industry experience, he continues to expanded RPS’ business model beyond its automotive core to other industries. His expertise in strategic planning, client focus and operational excellence has been instrumental in making RPS a top-tier training services and training outsourcing provider. Under his leadership, RPS EMEA has experienced double-digit growth and continuously strives to be the best training provider worldwide.

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References

1 Towards Maturity, Driving Innovation in Dealership Training for the Automotive Sector, Executive Summary, (April 2014)

2 Towards Maturity, Driving Innovation in Dealership Training for the Automotive Sector, Executive Summary, (April 2014)

3 Towards Maturity, Unlocking Potential: Releasing the potential of the business and its people through learning, Annual Benchmark Report (November 2016)

4 “Engaging Millennials Using Social Learning” eLearninginfographics (February 2014).

5 Sean Hougan, “5 Insights into Workplace Social Learning Technologies.” (Lambda Solutions, 2015).

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