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Blended and Flexible Learning: Integrating Learning into [Work] Life

15 October 2021

Traditional methods of employee “training” frequently suffer from the same inherent flaw. They don’t inspire learning. Bullet points and multiple-choice quizzes are the bare minimum for transferring information, but they do little to ensure retention — and even less to engage attention. Most corporate trainings will leave your company with a handful of employees who remember everything, another handful who retain nothing, and a majority in the middle who remember bits and pieces — possibly at the expense of the primary point.

Training versus learning

Training is organized and concise. It boils complex topics down to the fewest possible words and arranges them in neat lists on carefully arranged slides. Sometimes there are pictures — maybe even a video or two. At the end of the day, there will be some sort of test, and your employees might walk away with a preprinted certificate for their trouble — and your money.

So, if training resembles history’s most uninspiring university lecture, what does learning look like? Think kindergarten. We begin our “formal” education in an ideal learning environment, and as we “advance” through primary and secondary school, we gradually lose access to everything that inspired us to learn. Stories, songs, and games have been replaced — with PowerPoint slides and bullet points. “Training” is boring. Learning is interactive, messy, colorful, and fun. Learning happens when people feel comfortable making mistakes and trying new things — and when they’re given the options and autonomy they need to learn the way they learn best.

Blended learning

Instead of the info dump training model, provide employees with a learning experience. Blended and sustainable learning opportunities mean shifting our training focus — from how we teach to how employees learn. And rather than strain the limits of employee focus — and patience — autonomous, employee-led learning models are flexible and designed to engage interest, hold attention, and inspire retention.

Blended learning models give employees a combination of live facilitated discussion and web-based instruction. In person or on a live virtual workshop, employees can ask direct questions, interact with instructors, and participate in hands-on activities (e.g., stories, brainstorming, simulations, and challenges). E-learning or microlearning modules give them more control over the time, place, and circumstances of their participation — and grant them a healthy measure of autonomy over the pace of their learning.

Flexible learning

Flexible learning models are modified even further to offer employees more autonomy and empower them to direct their own learning experience. A flexible learning model may incorporate any of several different components, including:

Benefits of blended and flexible learning

The benefits of blended and flexible learning are well-documented: higher retention, increased employee engagement, guided autonomy, lower costs, and — essential in today’s business world — the flexibility to reach all employees whether they work in the office, fully remote, or follow a hybrid schedule. With more than half of employees expressing a preference to work from home at least 3 days per week, companies must ensure no individual or team is excluded from the opportunity to learn, grow, and advance in their careers.

A healthy company culture embraces learning as fundamental to the fabric of its mission, and as such, makes learning accessible for all its employees. Creating experiences is key to learning success. Experiences engage memory, so employees gain the information and tools they need to remember and implement what they’ve learned.

Visit fitch-consulting.com to learn more about engaging your employees with blended and flexible learning models.
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