The pros and cons of blended learning depend on whether you are a ‘deliverer’ of learning or a ‘receiver’ of learning; each group has its own ‘take’ on the advantages and disadvantages of course, as the groups approach the issue from a very different standpoint.
The major beneficiaries are:
1. The learner -the end-user of the learning process
2. The employer -the one who provides the learning, either personally or through another, such as a training professional
Let’s look at the pros and cons for each group…
1 Advantages to me as a learner
- I can study some of the content when I want
- I can work at my own pace
- I get to experience different learning tools
- I can use the internet which I use a lot at work and home anyway
- I like the balance between face to face and individual work
- I like the variety of approaches
- I like to have the time to explore a topic, do some research and mull over the results before I have to give an answer to the trainer
- I can work on my training when it suits me
- It’s solutions focused rather than problems focused
- I can build a network of allies through group forums
- It keeps me flexible and agile which is useful to model in my management role
- I need to be more self motivated than if I was in a classroom
- I need to make sure I don’t let distractions in the office interfere with the outcomes of my training programme
- I need to stick to deadlines set by myself or my tutors and not let other things get in the way
As a by product, we might almost say that blended learning gives the learner the chance to learn new technical skills or develop skills of self motivation, time management and focus (all important in other roles and other jobs as these are key transferable skills).
2 Advantages to me as an employer
- I can get my message to the whole company easily and quickly if I use a blended approach
- I can save money on trainers and training days
- I can save money by keeping people in their workplaces and not out on training
- I can encourage staff to take their development seriously
- Motivated and fully developed staff will be more effective
- I can offer and encourage much more accessible ways of learning
- It’s just a one-off investment for reusable content
- I have a resource that is easily updated
- I can get training content adapted to suit changing business needs
- There’s greater strategic alignment
- More proactive teams can deal better with changing environments
- I can at last build a complete learning organisation!
- I mustn’t just concentrate on savings; what is the real cost?
- I may have to make an investment in the technology in the short term
- I will need to ensure that we keep up to date with new developments as technology advances
- I must ensure I use the right people to design and deliver blended learning programmes which may include up-skilling my L & D people
- Learners may still need the face to face contact to establish relationships
- I should make sure that training still takes place within working hours as much as possible and that staff is not expected to work outside normal hours just because they can
- It might represent a very new learning path for our organisation and I’ll have to sell it
- It means taking training really seriously!
If you want to introduce blended learning approaches then get clear on the pros and cons for you and your business as well as for your learners.