The “blink and you’ll miss it” rate at which the digital world we live in revolutionises how business is done provides an exciting (if somewhat daunting) challenge to all companies. But while many leaders make it a core part of their job to keep atop the latest developments in working methods, not as many are keeping as sharp an eye out on the parallel changes occurring in the fields of training and education.
Recent developments in digital learning such as blended learning, should be of great interest to leaders and entrepreneurs as they hold the key to everything from improving company performance to attracting and retaining the best staff.
Not to be confused with e-learning which is purely electronic, blending learning is a carefully arranged marriage between physical and online methods.
Modern communications has created cyber classrooms that eliminate many of the inconveniences of purely physical ones. As long as someone has a computer, mobile or tablet to hand, they can learn.
Forward thinking business leaders are similarly adapting their training programmes to take the best from these new educational techniques and using them to reinvent how they train their staff.
But many managers are hesitant to commit to staff training as they are concerned by the disorder caused by staff being out of office and the cost of travel to courses. Tapping into digital methods like blended learning dramatically alters that dynamic and allows training to be scheduled with the minimum of disruption.
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Instead of only training staff in physical workshops which require staff to be in the same place at the same time – often for several days – content can be delivered electronically to wherever in the world staff are. This can take the form of live or pre-recorded video sessions with speakers or online interactive courses that provide an array of written, visual and audio content.
The electronic learning aspect is complemented by key parts of the course still being delivered in person. Bringing people together will always be hugely beneficial and is a great way for staff to bond and grow as a team.
The key is to fully integrate your online and offline training so they complement and build on each other, rather than being two entirely separate aspects. The best programs should feel seamless to the student and all content tightly integrated.
Another factor for increasing how much digital training you use with staff is that people are more and more used to absorbing information digitally. From consuming news, contacting clients to speaking with friends and family, people now do a significant amount of these things via a screen of some kind.
It makes sense therefore to impart training and new information in a similar format, especially for younger workers. And, once again, the physical training then complements and processes what has already been delivered electronically.
A recent survey from executive development firm Future Workplace predicted that young people entering the workforce now expect to have as many as 15 to 20 jobs in their career. With the days of “jobs for life” long gone, business leaders need to ensure the disruption from such mobile workforces is limited.
Firms that offer the very best training and personal development process are likely to see lower staff turnover than those that neglect these duties.
Great leaders look as much at how they and their staff learn as they do at how they work.
Isabelle Funck is director of research and development at Hyper Island.
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