and Training Approach
Learning and Development- The Need of the Hour
The importance of learning is being felt all across the globe. Nations all over the world are gradually metamorphosing from different economies to that of knowledge based ones. When a chunk of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of most of the nations comes from services based industries that too where the major driver is knowledge, it is even more important for the all the stakeholders to take the right decisions commensurate with changing times so that it contributes towards the national and international development. This however, calls for a changed approach on the part of the major decision makers, including the regulators so that the end-user (the learner) can derive maximum takeaways that too which are important for him in his professional and personal life. Technology being one of the major enabler in a modern day training setup the need is always being felt by all and sundry so as to reach the crescendo of teaching-learning cycle.
There have been many novel ways of training, student centered learning, experiential learning, peer learning, operation workout centered learning, live project centered, employment centered learning, entrepreneurship centered learning, electronic learning, blended learning to name a few. This article focuses on one of the novel learning methodologies, i.e. the blended learning approach. Until now most of the teachers and trainers were averse with age-old methodologies, however the emergence of new technologies have not only made teaching and training simpler, but it also enables the trainer-trainee duo to undergo the learning cycle with ease, not to forget the pace.
What is blended learning approach?
Blended learning approach is a mix of the conventional mode of classroom training along with the contemporary electronic learning. It may sound as a technique which is meant for the so called techno-savvy trainers; however, a minute understanding of the same along with the rudimentary acclimatization with the processes and set up would lead to a situation where the trainer-trainee is unable to revert back to the old methods and instead embracing the same with gusto. The proportion of usage level between the two platforms, whether one is chalk and talk or live project or operation workout or case based or situation based, or experiential, or commit and vomit along with the electronic mode culminates in a blended learning approach. The experiences I gained on the same is while training the industrial clients of the United Arab Emirates when the classroom mode was intertwined along with the Learning Management System (LMS) and while teaching Business Studies students of the Sultanate of Oman when MOODLE was blended with chalk and talk method, not to forget the research oriented approach with electronic learning in Australia. Although there were variations in the level of students/trainees satisfaction level on all the three cases, it was becoming clear that the target audience of the new millennium were more comfortable if blended learning approach is adopted in the right proportion. This does not mean it is a cakewalk for a trainer or even a teacher to walk into the blended mode all of a sudden. The major challenge lies in orienting the audience and continues in the handholding mode till the weakest link in the batch feels the level of comfort in moving from one mode to another. This in turn calls for empathizing with the changing mindset as resistance to change is often encountered by the trainers while moving up the training value chain.
How is Blended Approach Beneficial?
Blended approach scores over the conventional method in many ways. Following are the few of the benefits derived by the trainer-trainee duo-
1. It saves on time
2. It leads to more learning vis-à-vis the conventional mode for the same period of time
3. It allows the learner to refer back as and when they feel
4. It allows the learner adopt a self paced learning methodology while shifting from one mode to that of the online mode
5. he reaction time for the learner is more, so it can lead to more thinking
6. 7x24x365 learning is possible, courtesy the online methodology
7. One component can serve as the backend and the other as the front end depending upon the requirements of the learning set up
8. Virtual forums, discussion boards and chat rooms enables the learner to network, brainstorm and indulge in peer learning with a very wide network
9. It saves on cost, especially the amount on stationeries
10. It offers the trainer to innovate novel approaches as the e-mode allows him to maneuver more effectively
The all round benefit accrued by the major stakeholders in the learning sphere has catapulted blended approach from nowhere to one of the more sought after techniques. The initial capital required to set up the infrastructure may be a small hindrance, however if one tries to do the cost-benefit analysis, considering the longer time span one is going to use the resources, it would be foolhardy not to incorporate such a unique methodology. The benefits in the long run far outweigh the cost involved. However, in the long run the success of this unique methodology hinges quite strongly on the acceptance level of the audience and for that a substantial amount of spadework is required.