Does anyone have experience or data on how a shift from predominantly classroom training to a blended approach might impact on requirements for trainers' time?

E.g. is reduction in classroom time roughly balanced by trainers taking on an e-tutoring role? Or is it likely to mean less trainers' time and more administrative support time? Or an overall increase in trainers' time due to their increased involvement in e-tutoring and learner support?

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In my experience, blended learning solutions take a considerable larger amount of time both in the design, development and production stages. During the design stage, there is a whole range of learning tools and media to consider based on target group, learning needs, purpose and objectives, etc. Ensuring that one chooses the most relevant learning medium (e.g. mobile phone, web-based learning activity, podcast, etc) is important, but also that the blend between both content and learning medium is optimal. During the development stage, the increase in learning media/fora means that you need to develop content for various platforms. Finally, the training arena is no longer contained in the classroom, meaning blended learning solutions open up for "boundary-less learning". Indeed, this is the point, and can be a very powerful and effective learning model for learners. It can be wise though to consider supporting the trainer, e.g. having a pool of trainers that can answer e-mails, dedicated staff to work on technical-related issues, and e-mentors to follow learners through the programme.

John,

 

You raise some really good (and difficult) questions and I hope the following (rather long) response is of use.

 

From my own experiences (and trying not too replicate Marcus' post too much) I found that moving towards blended learning created two issues: 

  1. A “bow wave” of demand on your trainers’ time (assuming they develop your learning) as they deliver existing courses and develop blended solutions in parallel
  2. A need to provide additional finances for new blended elements (workbooks, videos, technology etc.)

 

When courses were being developed from scratch I generally found that there was more effort needed to develop a blended course than a trainer-led course.  This was however offset by the fact that the running costs of blended solutions were lower (mainly due to reduction or removal of travelling and hotel costs) AND that trainers could deal with a higher volume of “delegates”.

 

I appreciate that these are very broad indications and to be honest the cost of development and the subsequent savings in deployment depended enormously on the approach adopted and the control measures put in place.  For example, video elements can be developed at costs ranging from the fairly low to the painfully high and take from a few hours to a few months to produce.  The manner in which you develop and combine the blended elements can also make a massive difference to the impact on your trainers’ time.  Blended elements can have high, medium or low trainer contact e.g. a workbook, video or podcast could be low (or non-existent) contact whereas a virtual classroom would be high contact.

 

What I did find was this: 

 

  • Despite all the technology in the world, the need for some courses to remain F2F never went away
  • I needed to really up skill my trainers so they could develop blended solutions and the first ones took far longer than expected and cost more than planned
  • Not all trainers liked developing blended solutions – for some it meant no longer being able to be the entertainer on the stage – but the majority loved the variety
  • I didn’t get any more training staff!
  • I did get a larger budget
  • I was expected to deliver vastly more interventions using blended solutions
  • The issues mentioned above greatly informed the blended “mix” that I used i.e. I could only develop what I could afford and support

 

Overall the really big positives for me were that my trainers began to spend more time helping people rather than telling them stuff.  This meant that the “delegates” got a far more personalised and faster service and the trainers got a much higher level of job satisfaction.  This was underpinned by employee engagement data and shouldn’t be overlooked as a real positive for any organisation.

 

I hope this is of help and please let me know if there’s any other information I can help you with.

 

Jonathan.

Many thanks Jonathan - this is really helpful information.

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