Free Guide to Blended Learning Strategies

Blended Learning Guide Image

Traditionally, blended learning has meant using both instructor-led (or similar face-to-face) training along with online learning (typically in the form of elearning). And there’s evidence to show that blended learning leads to improved learning outcomes.

For example, consider the following summaries of meta-studies on the effectiveness of blended learning:

“Evidence from hundreds of media comparison studies…suggest[s] that blended learning environments are more effective than pure classroom or pure digital…”

— Dr. Ruth Colvin Clark, Evidence-Based Training Methods 

“Overall, these meta-analyses found that eLearning tends to outperform classroom instruction and, blended learning (using both online and classroom instruction) creates the largest benefits…”

–Dr. Will Thalheimer, Does eLearning Work? What the Scientific Research Says! 

“The difference between student outcomes for online and face-to-face classes…was larger in those studies contrasting conditions that blended elements of online and face-to-face instruction with conditions taught purely face-to-face.”
— US Department of Education, Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning 

More recently, people have begun using the term blended learning not only for mixing instructor-led training with online training, but for the general idea of mixing training of different delivery formats. So, for example, your blended learning solution could all be delivered through technological means–an email, plus a video, plus a webinar, followed up by microlearning courses delivered to mobile devices.

So blended learning solutions are effective. Which means you’ll probably want to begin using them at work. But that raises the question–what’s the BEST way to create a blended learning solution?

The truth is, there is no single best way to blend learning. You’ll find the best results by stepping back, considering the performance and learning problem you’re trying to solve, considering what you want to help employees learn and perform on the job, selecting the learning activities that are most likely to help workers learn to perform on the job in the desired manner, and then selecting training delivery methods that you can use to deliver those learning activities.

In the attached guide below, we’ve given you a few frameworks to consider when designing your blended learning solutions. We’ve included ideas drawn from learning researchers and professionals such as Guy Wallace, Dr. Ruth Colvin Clark, M. David Merrill, Dr. Patti Shank, Bob Mosher & Conrad Gottfredson, Arun Pradhan, and more (hat tip and thanks to all of them).

(more…)

Read More

Free Guide: Writing Learning Objectives for Workplace Learning & Performance Improvement

Learning Objectives Guide Image

Learning objectives are a key part of effective training materials. Create and use them correctly, and you’re well on your way to helping your employees learn the knowledge, skills, and attitudes they need.

Neglect to use them, or misuse them, and you’re setting yourself at a serious disadvantage right out of the gate.

At the bottom of this page, you can download a pretty-near-definitive guide that covers a lot of the basics about learning objectives. If you’re new to training or looking for a refresher, the guide may be helpful.

(more…)

Read More

Tips for Writing Instructional and Training Material

Tips for Writing Training Graphic

It’s not easy to write well. Or, as Ernest Hemingway put it, “Easy writing makes hard reading.”

As a writer, you want to do the difficult work so your reader doesn’t have to. And while it’s true that all types of writing are difficult, it’s also true that each type of writing presents its own special challenges. That’s definitely the case when it comes to writing instructional or training materials. So, we’ve created a list of tips and resources to help you write better, more effective training materials.

We hope you find these helpful; feel free to contribute your own ideas in the comments section below.

Please note this article REALLY is about WRITING, so it covers just a small amount of designing, developing, and delivering training materials. If you want a bigger, bird’s-eye view of designing, developing, and delivering, you may find these articles helpful:

(more…)

Read More

Free Recorded Webinar: Getting Training Online Quickly Due to COVID-19

On-Demand Recorded Webinar Image

There’s been a lot of interest about online training for work for quite some time, and of course that interest has increased recently due to COVID-19.

In this webinar, we’ll give you some tips for making the shift to online training quickly but still effectively. In particular, we’ll discuss:

  • What is online training?
  • What are some benefits of online training?
  • Does online training work?
  • Using blended learning
  • Tips for specific different types of online training activity types
  • Tips for getting started with online training now

We wish you luck if you’re either making the initial move to online training or if you’re maybe looking to add more online training to what you’re currently doing. Let us know if there’s anything we can do to help you out.

View our Getting Training Online Quickly recorded webinar at our Webinars page.

In addition to this webinar, we’ve been writing articles and holding recorded discussions with online training experts to get you some additional useful tips. We’ve listed those below:

If you want some more detailed information for training in different contexts, you might also find these recorded webinars helpful:

And finally, you might find these more in-depth free guides helpful:

Hope you find this stuff helpful! Good luck and stay safe.

 

Read More

“Live Online Learning:” Webinars and Virtual Classrooms

Live online learning–meaning stuff including webinars and virtual classrooms–has been part of the workplace learning & performance improvement quiver for quite some time.

But, there’s a lot of additional interest in it as of late due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with lots of workers working from home and with some reasonable concerns about holding face-to-face and/or classroom-style, instructor-led training.

Not that long ago, in our series of articles about getting training online quickly because of COVID-19, we profiled an interview that Shannon Tipton and Jo Clark had with Michelle Ockers, talking about this very same thing (full disclosure: we loved that “Disruption Series” of interviews Michelle Ockers had; we applaud Michelle and all the participants; it really helped kick-start us into learning more on this topic; and we encourage you all to check it out).

But with live online learning, including webinars and virtual classrooms being so important, we figured it would be great if we could get Shannon Tipton to talk to us about this stuff as well, and we’re happy she agreed to. So that interview is below–we hope you enjoy it. Thanks to Shannon for sharing her time and expertise.

(more…)

Read More

How We Learn (With Julie Dirksen)

How We Learn Image

We wanted to learn more about how people learn so we could also learn more about how to create better training and do other things to facilitate that learning at our workplaces more effectively.

So who better to talk with than Julie Dirsken, author of Design for How People Learn and all-around well-informed person on issues related to learning?

Check out the interview with Julie yourself to begin learning about learning. We’re very grateful to Julie for joining us and sharing her knowledge on the topic, we hope to have her back for some follow-up discussions, and we encourage you to buy a copy of her book and read it (see the link below).

Here are some relevant links:

Thanks again to Julie!

Read More

eLearning Basics: Flash is Going Away–Have You Checked Your eLearning Courses?

News flash for you (pun INTENDED!): Adobe is going to discontinue the Flash Media Player at the end of this year (2020).

Why should you care? For one reason, because some of your elearning courses at work may still use Flash video. You want to start planning and acting now to avoid a problem at the end of the year.

We tell you more in the article below so you can make it through this transition without major problems.

(more…)

Read More

Writing Better Tests for Job Training: The Issues of Reliability and Validity

Tests, Reliability & Validity Image

It’s often, if not always, a good idea to provide some form of test or assessment after providing job training to employees.

In some cases, this may be a written test scored in a pass/fail manner, and in others, it may be a performance test that requires the workers to demonstrate a skill or the ability to perform a procedure in a satisfactory manner before they go back and perform that skill for real on the job.

In either case, it’s important for that test to be a good one. And by “good,” we mean that it provides you with useful, actionable information about whether or not the employee has truly benefited from the training, can satisfy your learning objectives, and is ready and able to successfully apply the new information or perform the new skill on the job.

Side note: Tests are also beneficial for compliance reasons, to prove the worker understood the training, and also because tests have been proven again and again to improve comprehension and retention (see this article on the “testing effect” for more on this).

There are a number of characteristics that “good tests” like this share. Learning & development experts know the two that we’ll talk about in this article as validity and reliability. Read on to learn more about what a valid and reliable test is and why it’s important to create valid and reliable assessments.

(more…)

Read More

Workforce Tests That Match Your Learning Objectives: The Issue of Fidelity

Workforce Tests, Learning Objectives & Fidelity Image

An important part of designing, creating, and delivering job training materials is creating learning assessments–the test at the end of the training activity to determine if workers can perform the skill or skills required by the learning objective.

That test can come in many different forms, including performance demonstrations and, often in the world of online learning, multiple-choice questions.

Whatever type of test it is, you may sometimes find yourself wondering about the best practices for creating the test or assessment that employees must complete after training and before they perform the tasks for real on the job.

In this article, we’re going to give you tips about something related to test creation that learning experts call fidelity (no, not THAT fidelity–this is not a juicy blog post). In training talk, fidelity is the extent to which your test or test question mirrors the real task your workers will have to perform on the job.

In describing fidelity and tests, we’ll cover a few other best practices, too. Hope this helps you with your question writin’.

(more…)

Read More

An Introduction to Learning Assessments & Multiple-Choice Questions with Dr. Patti Shank

In this recorded discussion, we talk with learning researcher and instructional designer Dr. Patti Shank about learning assessments in general and, in particular, multiple-choice questions.

In the discussion, Dr. Shank talks about the relationship between learning objectives and learning assessments; how learning activities are influenced by leaning objectives and lead to learning assessments; the purpose of creating learning assessments; authentic learning assessments; tips for writing multiple-choice questions, including the stem, answer options, and feedback for correct answers; passing scores; and more.

This is one of two related discussions with Dr. Shank. Be certain to check the discussion about Learning Objectives as well.

As always, thanks to Dr. Shank for sharing her time and knowledge and for all the great learning research she compiles and shares.

Here are some related links to check out:

Read More

Helping Workers Develop Problem-Solving Skills

Helping Workers Develop Problem-Solving Skills Image

Work is easier when everything goes perfectly and there are no problems.

But as you probably know, “perfect” is a rare state. Problems pop up from time to time and workers need to solve them.

As a result, it’s important that workers be effective problem solvers. Having a workforce with well-developed problem-solving skills is a significant competitive advantage for a company.

All workers benefit from strong problem-solving skills. For example, we have a customer who led a training system upgrade for a major, multi-site manufacturing company in the United States (they make common household products and the odds are very good you’ve used their products). He would often tell me that he wanted to “help his machine operators become machine engineers.”  (Hello to you, Steve, if you happen to be reading this.)

What our customer Steve meant by that was, at least in part, that he wanted workers to have problem-solving skills so they could address problems on their own at work to decrease downtime, increase efficiency, and maximize production.

But those problem-solving skills don’t come “built-in” to every person. And even those with a natural knack for it can always get better, or learn to apply those skills more effectively in a given work circumstance. And as a result, it’s a good idea to provide resources to help workers develop and use problem-solving skills at work. That’s what this article will focus on.

In addition to this article, also feel free to check out our article on Continuous Improvement at Work, as problem-solving is also a big part of continuous improvement and that article provides a long list of tips to help with problem-solving and continuous improvement.
(more…)

Read More

What Is a Learning Objective?

Instructional Design Basics

 

[This is the the first in a series of posts about learning objectives. We’ve now compiled all the posts into a single downloadable guide to writing learning objectives if you want to check that out.]

If you’re new to the learning and training world, you may not yet know what a learning objective is.

To put it simply, a learning objective describes what the learners should be able to do after they complete your training materials. In many cases, you’ll probably have a series of learning objectives instead of just one.

The point of a learning objective is that you’re holding training for a larger, more general reason–to help your organization achieve some goal. And employees need to learn to perform tasks on the job to help the organization achieve that goal. And your training should help employees learn to perform those tasks, and therefore help the organization achieve that goal.

You should create your learning objectives before creating your training content. Use the information you gathered during the Training Needs Assessment and the Analysis (or first) phase of the ADDIE instructional design process to create your objectives.

We’ll explain more below and will provide links to even more information about learning objectives, including how to write them, tests to see if they’re written well, different types of learning objectives for different types of learning, and key thinkers in the development of the idea of learning objectives.

There’s even a great free guide to writing learning objectives at the bottom you can download. 

(more…)

Read More