Blended learning, which combines face-to-face tuition with remote learning, delivers a convenient and flexible solution for those who are constantly on the move.
In today’s business world, where communications, technology and travel are at their most advanced, it is both normal and expected for staff to be on the move meeting clients, partners and suppliers during a typical working week. Ease of availability, granted mostly by mobile devices, combined with increased global awareness and expansion into foreign markets, has meant that many workers, especially those at a higher level, are away from their desks for days – or weeks – on end.
This is all very well when it comes to boosting a company’s global presence and to providing information instantly and efficiently. When it comes to corporate training, however, it can become a logistical nightmare to organise a time and place that suits all staff involved. Traditional classroom-based training becomes a dream of the past as diaries clash, schedules change and emergency meetings take their toll. Staff become disillusioned as they fail to complete their chosen course and, in the case of group tuition, fall back in comparison to colleagues. Company investment in staff reaps little reward and funds are wasted. It is easy to see why some just give up altogether, or put it off for ‘next year’.
This does not have to be case, however. The very technology that puts extra demands on us can save the day when it comes to in-company training.
Blended learning, which combines face-to-face tuition with remote learning, delivers a convenient and flexible solution for those who are constantly on the move. Whilst recognising the utility of an agreed number of classroom sessions, where students can chat to their tutor and engage with fellow participants, it takes advantage of technology such as the internet, television and telephone to provide the remaining tuition at a time and place that suits the individual. In this way the remote component acts as an extension to traditional face-to-face learning, and in many cases provides a more rounded educational experience for the learner than just one of these methods used in isolation. The very variety of technologies on offer embraces different learning styles and as such provides ongoing stimulation and motivation.
Whether used as part of a blended learning package or on their own, the scope is large when it comes to alternative learning methods. Advances in communication have opened the door to approaches that even twenty or thirty years ago would not have been thought possible. Telephone lessons, for instance, are an intensive and effective form of tuition that suit courses such as language training where speaking and listening are paramount; lessons can take place anywhere in the world as long as the trainer has access to a telephone and e-mail, if need be, for follow-up material.
Another relatively new concept is that of the virtual classroom. Without even having to leave the home, office, or even hotel room, a trainee can receive all the benefits of face-to-face training with just a computer, headset and webcam. This equipment enables them to communicate with their own personal trainer, who can supply instant feedback and encouragement, and follow a course that is geared specifically to their needs and learning pace – wherever and whenever it suits them.
Whichever form of tuition is adopted, whether face-to-face, computer-based, telephone or virtual (or a combination of these, through blended learning), a trainee’s progress can be enhanced by between-lesson support in the form of self-study. Self-study can be undertaken in a variety of ways to suit the individual – CDs, textbooks, online courses, television, radio or podcasts – and again it is perfect for those on the move as it does not require commitment to a regular time or place.
Corporate training, whether on an individual or group basis, can therefore enjoy greater flexibility than ever before and be adapted to suit even the most restrictive work schedules. Any company wishing to embark on a training programme need not dread the marrying of timetables that may have once been prohibitive to its success; instead, it has at its fingertips a cost-effective and flexible solution for training staff anywhere in the world.