How is blended learning disrupting traditional roles?

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In June 2004, IBM was sharing its learning transformation journey with the business world. One key element stood out – the use of a blended learning approach. They praised it for allowing them to design exciting experiences that took employees on various learning journeys. From onboarding and personal development, to soft and hard skills development – everything was digital. Learners engaged with relevant content online, then practiced in instructor-led activities. Through role-playing and coaching, they learners tested themselves in low-stake situations. Due to this integrated approach, they met learning goals faster and more efficiently.

Fast forward to 2019 and this methodology is spreading out to all industries, and fast. This, of course, is not breaking news: you are surely familiar with this trend.


Why this fast adoption of blended learning?

The main reason lies in the powerful promise it carries: to reinvent the learning experience. By integrating instructor-led training with digital tools (that go as far as artificial intelligence and virtual reality), you get the best of both worlds. Digitally, learners have quick and easy access to relevant information that targets their needs. Afterwards, they can immediately apply what they have learned in low-stake scenarios during class training. Blended learning provides access to high-quality, hyper-relevant content, developed by subject-matter experts. What’s more, it ensures consistency in quality, at a fraction of the cost of traditional training. Finally, it reaches its audience much faster, given that the majority of the workforce is always connected.

IBM was eager and ready to recognize this promise and act on it. What about you?


What does this mean for corporate L&D?

Among the many changes brought by the blended learning approach, one is particularly interesting: the disruption of traditional roles. In other words, blended learning is redefining your purpose as a development professional or trainer. Once a symbol of expertise and authority, you now become a facilitator, guiding learners on their journey. Digital tools empower you to curate quality content and design attractive and transformative programs. Most importantly, you can better tailor these experiences to your audience’s needs and expectations. In a sense, you become the architect of their personalized learning experience.


How would this impact course design?

Think about your last Conflict Management training: a 3-hour session on the Whys and How-Tos of conflict, including background information, a theory or framework and a handout that most of your participants probably forgot when they left.

Now imagine how your next Conflict Management training could look like. A series of micro-modular video courses, 3 minutes long, outlining how to effectively engage in conflict resolution. The How-Tos, nothing but actionable advice. Two short articles highlighting real life examples of people engaging productively in conflict. One quiz to test knowledge acquisition and a real-life challenge for your participants to ponder on. Most importantly, learners can go at their own pace. By the time they reach the classroom, you have already identifies gaps and areas for improvement. All this, based on their activity in your Learning Experience Platform (LXP), where all digital learning is happening.

LXPs are incredibly powerful tools. They don’t just allow you to directly address knowledge gaps through high quality content, but also help you deliver targeted and personalized programs for your audience. Essentially, LXPs are content libraries, designed with the learner in mind – much like Netflix or Youtube. Modern and hyper-relevant information is easy to find and very easy to consume. With multiple learning paths to embark on, based on skill level and difficulty, learners become highly autonomous, and thus, engaged and motivated to keep pushing forward.


How did IBM harvest the power of LXPs? 

IBM recognized the potential of LXPs early on. In 2004, all employees spent an estimated 708 days per year in training, 47% of which were conducted online. Here are a few examples:

  • The Connections program enabled new hires to get insights about the company much faster. During a 2-3 months period, they want through digital courses and also engaged in manager-employee conferences, on-the-job coaching and mentoring. At the end of the program, a half-a-day workshop gave them the opportunity to explore their experiences and articulate key takeaways.
  • Through the Individual Development Planning program, employees defined career goals, aspirations and specific actions to achieve them. They first started with a skill assessment tool to determine current benchmark levels and then developed additional skills through digital courses, coaching and mentoring.
  • The Basic Blue, an award-winning program, helped new managers develop the necessary skills for their new role: from aligning values and behaviors to driving customer-centric mindsets and empowering teams to perform. Managers had access to relevant knowledge and engaged with their peers in virtual learning communities. What’s more, they practiced and reinforced their learning in simulations and on-the-job experiences. It has been proven that Basic Blue enabled managers to learn five times as much material at one third of the cost of traditional training.


What were the long term benefits?

With LXPs, IBM saved US$579 million in 2 years in training costs and increased employee engagement. Given the personal development opportunities, 79% of employees were likely to stay with the company for at least 3 years.

Are you looking for the same results? You can now capitalize on both your expertise and the power of digital tools, to better adapt to the demands of your audience. At the same time, you can better provide individual attention and engage your learners at their point of need. Everyone benefits from this approach – this is the true power of LXPs. As the 2016 Benchmark Report: The State of Online Training points out: “Technology has not decreased the demand for instructor-led training, but gives instructors new tools to reach even more learners“.


IBM seized the opportunity to use digital tools to empower its employees to learn and develop themselves. Imagine what you could achieve, if you embrace this blended learning approach and take on your new role as architect of transformative learning experiences.

In the words of Stephanie Demiris, Director of Global Learning and Engagement at Deckers Brands: “We just don’t view our job as teaching people. We really view our job as inspiring people to learn”.

Leverage the power of technology with Moonstar’s interactive Learning Experience Platform. Turn relevant competencies into new habits and build a community of enthusiastic learners and a continuous learning mindset in your company.