Are you thinking of bringing your training company to the next level by extending your training catalog with a digital learning solution? Smart move! Blended Learning has the potential to combine the best of two worlds – all the unique advantages of in-person instructor-led training with all the benefits from e-learning and digital tools. And thus it ensures you higher customer satisfaction, retention, and recommendations. (Read more about the benefits here.)
And yet, it’s no easy feat to choose the best digital tool for your needs! Drawing from the years of experience we have as trainers and developers of a digital learning solution for blended learning, we created a comprehensive checklist for you!
Our checklist includes aspects regarding the features of the tool, the software provider, pricing, and marketing. It provides a list of important points for every aspect and related tips and questions. This checklist will support you to choose the digital learning solution, which fits your needs best. Let’s go!
Before you choose a tool and get the maximum benefit out of this checklist, you have to be clear on your strategy. Here are a few questions, to support you gaining clarity for your blended learning programme.
If you are in the business of developing people (in contrast to conveying knowledge), you have to account for a different learning process – and so does the tool.
Soft skills – or as we like to call them essential skills – are based on personal traits, mindset, attitude, values, a general way of relating to the world. They are much closer linked to a person’s core way of being than any other skill set. Personal learning is more than understanding. It requires a ‘shift’. And that shift needs reflection, new perspectives, a-ha moments, etc. and the digital tool has to account for that. (Read more on this here.) Therefore, you will find a special item on soft skills in the checklist.
The checklist contains a lot of different features. Luckily and most likely not all e-learning tools offer all of them! Because counterintuitively as it may seem, this is a good thing for you – and for your clients and their users. You won’t need all of those features anyway.
You will profit much more from a few selected ones, which are in line with your personal blended learning strategy. Go for “less is more”. That way you won’t have to pay for features you are not using and the tool is easier and more intuitive for you and the participants of your trainings. This will make the implementation much more likely to succeed and ensures that your efforts bear fruit.
In the following, we want to present to you a list of optional features. Quick reminder: You do not need all of those! Go for “less is more”. Your users don’t require all of those features to learn effectively. Make sure to know, which ones are the most important to you and match your trainings.
This checklist will support you in choosing the best digital tool for your own personal blended learning strategy and will thus make your training company ready for the future. More questions? Not enough time? Get in touch with us today and chat with our blended learning experts!Curious how Intao checks on your list? Request a demo for our mobile application designed specifically for personal learning!
Honestly, would you choose e-learning to become a better communicator? How about growing as a leader?
The probability is high that your answer is a plain and simple ‘no’, maybe a ‘not only’, and you‘d be right. Traditional e-learning tools were not designed for learning beyond rational comprehension.
The topics commonly referred to as ‘soft skills’ like leadership, collaboration or communication have different learning requirements. The term ‘skill’ means the ability to DO something. And of course, that’s true for soft skills as well. The bigger challenge, however, lies in the mental processes involved.
Soft skills development involves what we call ‘personal learning’.
Which comes with its own set of criteria.
Soft skills – or as we like to call them essential skills – are based on personality, mindset, attitude, values, a general way of relating to the world. They are much closer linked to a person’s core way of being than any other skill set.
Personal learning is more than understanding. It requires a ‘shift’.
Personal learning, learning or un-learning something as a leader or communicator, requires not only a rational understanding but a personal shift. The processes and tools designed to facilitate that have different requirements from those addressing technical skills.
Let’s take the topic “giving better feedback” or example — a highlight in any communication course. The challenge isn’t to learn the rules on how to phrase it, the challenge is to tackle my personal issues: Some people tend to be too harsh, some people tend to not be clear enough, some avoid feedback altogether because of how they think about making mistakes. One topic and so many different aspects to learn. An e-learning tool should be intelligent enough to help the learner figure out which aspects are important.
Humans are creatures of habit. Any real shift takes time. We have an aha-moment, we try something out. We keep practising. Eventually, it becomes part of our natural way of responding to a situation. Again, as I said… it takes time. A course might create a learning impulse, but it won’t support the personal shift. E-learning for soft skills development should be like a fitness app, not like a boot camp. And, let’s face it, the only chance, learners will do a little something every day, is for the tool to be mobile!
We are all busy. Sticking to learning something every day is tough. Especially when it’s not urgent. Plus, we are all so very spoiled when it comes to how engaging content has to be. If an e-learning tool wants to compete with all the other distractions available, we better come up with something better than slideshows or talking head videos.
Rationally grasping a concept is a good start. Personal learning also involves creating awareness, reflecting on past experiences, taking action trying out new behaviours.
In a skill-oriented course, it is alright to follow a logical structure. For topics like leadership or communication, the learner constantly sub-consciously evaluates the content: Do I believe this? Does this fit how I think about this? Do I really need this? Does it fit my values? Does it fit my idea of how the world works?
The maxim for personal learning is to create and keep an openness at all times. So instead of having to follow the rigid logic of a course, the learner should be able to follow their own train of thought. Microlearning is a good start — even better would be a network of microlearning so that learning becomes a journey.
An e-learning tool effective for soft skills development will address all these different levels.
We used our decades of experience as trainers and coaches to build a learning platform which includes all of this. We built a mobile learning application where a digital coach guides you through your learning journey. Like a personal mentor would.
Curious? Click here to get a demo for our mobile app Intao.
Have you ever wondered how to increase learning success with fewer resources? Sounds like blended learning could be the answer you have been looking for! Mixing in-person training with digital tools as a blended learning programme offers a wide range of benefits for your organisation, your employees and their learning success.
(If you want to read more on why it’s worth including a digital tool as a training business, click here.)
In any learning intervention, the end goal is to create learning transfer and ultimately a change in behaviour and/or mindset. Blending Learning in some respects is spaced learning; there are several studies that suggest that exploring content, allowing some time to pass and then revisiting the same content, increases the amount of knowledge retained. Ongoing, learners are layering knowledge, applying ideas, practising and gaining feedback on an ongoing basis. This allows them to develop a deeper and long-lasting learning experience.
This is especially important for topics such as communication or leadership, where learning is not solely based on rational understanding but requires a deeper level of self-awareness.
Bringing learners together in one physical place to benefit from in-company or external experts can be costly and time expensive. In a Blended Learning programme, you can get creative in how you would bring the experts to the learners. For example, the online aspects of a Blended Learning programme could help facilitate having a guest on a webinar or a motivating video, which learners could watch in their own time.
A major benefit to a Blended Learning programme is how it can be designed so that a big part of the learning can be done when it suits the learner. These programmes blend a mix of synchronous (events are occurring in a certain time order that can be predicted) and asynchronous (no time order and unpredictable; events can, and do, interchange).
Some of the programme will be at a fixed point in time, where people come together to learn. But other aspects of the learning, such as assignments, reading, watching videos and e-learning can be done at a time that suits the learner. They can choose when and where they want to do it, be it in the evenings or during their commute, whatever time of day works best for them. With finding time to learn as the number one challenge for learners, this is a huge advantage!
Blended Learning can be flexible in other ways too. For example, some are less strict in terms of the actual learning journey. Learners can choose the learning that is most relevant to them based on their own needs, experience and aspiration. This can be guided further with diagnostics, manager advice or L&D input to ensure they find the best fit for their situation. This way, there are in charge of their own path and pace. Where some might choose to move through the programme at speed, others may take a more relaxed approach to suit their needs.
We all learn differently, and a Blended Learning programme can cater to this very well. Through offering a wide variety of different learning opportunities, it allows learners of different styles to consume content in ways that work best for them. Whether this is reading on their commute or listening to a podcast/audiobook while they walk the dog, Blended Learning can facilitate all types of learning.
Many people would agree that we learn new things much better through experience and putting new information into practice. Blended Learning programmes allow learners to absorb a new skill, apply it on the job, gain feedback and continuously improve. This system works due to the ongoing, repetition nature of a Blended Learning programme and how through setting projects, tasks and assignments, learners can practise as part of their everyday work.
For example, a Blended Learning Management Development programme might cover a module on coaching. Managers can learn the principles of coaching through a Virtual Workshop. They then can continue their learning experiences in their daily life; for example with a mobile app which supports them in reflecting their own behaviour and gives further input through videos or reading. Based on those learnings, the participants are encouraged to apply it with a colleague where they give coaching session, gain some feedback and report their experience back.
With all of this in mind, it becomes clear that the nature of a well-designed Blended Learning programme is that learners can access their learning from anywhere. And the face-to-face (F2F) workshops remaining can be adapted to virtual workshops for all or some participants if necessary. This is what makes Blended Learning much more inclusive.
This means that employees who don’t work at head office or a main hub can still be fully involved. They don’t miss out on the training due to the learning being held in a single location. While there are lots of Blended Learning programmes which still offer plenty of opportunities for live, physical classrooms, remote learning is on the rise. Virtual Workshops where learners can share ideas and practice skills together no matter where they are in the world offers inclusivity that F2F can sometimes struggle to accommodate.
Without doubt, Blended Learning programmes can offer a whole wealth of learning at a fraction of the cost of similar F2F programmes.
With most of the learning being done remotely, rather than in a central location, there are huge savings to be made in travel, hotel costs and room hire. Though there may still be some F2F events, usually to begin and end the programme, this is significantly less than if the entire programme was run F2F.
Additionally, setting up a digital learning solution, like a mobile app with great learning content, is much more scalable. With only a few more costs for more users, you can spread the same content to everyone!
With the travel time minimised, so is the carbon impact of Blended Learning programmes. Thankfully, many organisations are now becoming more carbon conscious and mindful of their impact on the planet. Recent concern around a “climate emergency” is driving organisations to build carbon reduction into their business strategies.
For the individual, there is a much greater focus on becoming more practical, making difference choices to minimise their own carbon impact. Less travel for all is easily achieved through a Blended Learning programme. Particularly if it uses Virtual Training platforms to substitute some of the F2F requirements.
There are many benefits to a Blended Learning programme, but overall, what sets it apart from others is its truly flexible nature. A great way to maximise time, cost and make the most of the varied learning styles of your learners, Blended programmes offer something for everyone.
Offering digital learning solutions as a training business brings you multiple benefits – which all boil down to two things: Getting a lead on your competitors and provide long-term customer satisfaction. How is that, you ask?
First of all, offering digital solutions shows of course how innovative you are and that it is important for you to stay on top of the changes and trends in L&D.
It also shows that you are aware of your clients’ needs. For example, 74% of employees want to learn during spare time at work. If you can offer a digital tool, which enables participants to continue learning after an in-person training, in smaller time increments, and in the workplace? And thus addressing the need of your clients – isn’t that something they would love?
And on top, you have more options to offer and a bigger portfolio! This will not only look good to new clients but also shows your existing clients that you constantly thrive to get better results for them.
Additionally, you could use digital tools to include in your in-person trainings. For example, you could have a tool for live surveys or other little gimmicks which boost participation and engage participants. Having even more positive reports from participants of your trainings can’t hurt either, right?
By increasing the output of your trainings for your clients, you increase customer satisfaction and get a higher chance to be recommended. So, how can a digital tool increase the ROI of your trainings for your clients in order to do that?
Imagine a leadership training for young professionals. For them to develop their potentials as leaders, it is important to get continuous training opportunities, but what if the budget is too restricted to do that? If you have a digital tool in your portfolio, you can still offer a suitable solution for your client. For example one, which covers a longer period of time by alternating in-person trainings and digital learning opportunities. Your clients will thus have a full-service longterm project with a budget they can afford. Which is obviously a good selling point. And now it gets even better: These trainings will be much more effective in the long run, because they are continuous and adapted to the way people truly learn and grow. This leads to an increase in customer satisfaction! They are more likely to hire your training business in the future and to recommend you to others.
So a better ROI for your clients means a higher ROI for you!
Another aspect, why it’s worth going digital: There is more and more budget for digital learning solutions! The 2019 LinkedIn Workplace report found that, since 2017, 59% of talent developers say they spend more money on online learning and 39% spend less on instructor-led training. So by offering an option for digital learning solutions, you tap into the budget for e-learning and online learning. This makes it easier for talent developers and HR to hire you and gives you an advantage over your competitors.
Last but not least, you can use offering digital learning solutions for your own advertising and marketing! Remember that number of 74% of employees, who want to learn during spare time at work? You can use that number to convince your clients, that your strategy of combining online and offline is far more effective than what only offline training providers can do. And there are many more facts like that. For example, getting employees to make time for learning is the number one challenge for talent development, or that most employees want to learn in small increments of under 45 minutes.
So use the advantage of being able to offer new training solutions for your marketing and sales campaigns! By combining your existing portfolio and expertise with digital tools you can offer more variation. And you can address the pressing needs your clients face to facilitate and support the learning and development of their employees. Sounds good? Should sound even better to your clients, right?!
To make sure the learning solutions you offer your clients bring you all those benefits, it needs absolutely look professional and representative of your company values! (That’s why we also recommend not building a tool on your own, it’s just so much effort to get something worthwhile.) After all, this is supposed to show your customers how innovative you are and that you have something highly valuable to offer.
Our expert tip on what to consider when choosing a digital learning solution: Use a digital tool that offers an option to brand the tool with your own logo and name.
Here is an example of what that could look like in our mobile app.
Offering a digital learning solution is a powerful option to increase customer retention, attract new clients, and convince them, why you offer the best training solution for their needs.
Contact us for further questions and get a demo for a digital learning solution that offers all this and get your demo today.
We believe in the power of blended learning: Combining energising in-person training with an e-learning tool, which allows participants to follow their personal learning journey and supports them to stay on track – isn’t that the dream?!
It was ours for a long time and technology has now made it possible.
In all our years of experience as coaches and trainers, we worked out which factors influence the success of a digital learning tool as an add-on to in-person training. Because choosing the right tool makes all the difference.
And (spoiler alert) we root for mobile applications as the tool of choice for blended learning – let’s find out why and how to choose the best mobile app for your needs.
(If you want to dive into the benefits of blended learning first, have a look here.)
Let’s have a closer look!
Why is this important? Imagine you spend hours and hours on a new training strategy, pay lots of money for a tool with thousands of features and then – participants just don’t use it! Employees and executives have so much to do and time is a very important issue in learning success. Having a tool that is simple and easy to use (and, of course, engaging nonetheless – we will come to that in a second) is an obvious advantage in getting people to start using it.
And once they have started using it, you want to make it as enjoyable for them to continue learning with that tool. A recent LinkedIn study found that the number one challenge for talent development is getting employees to make time for learning. One crucial aspect to make this work is making it possible for users to decide when and where they want to learn so it fits their personal needs. Learning has to be possible anywhere and anytime. And which device do we take with us (almost) anywhere? Our smartphones, exactly.
Imagine how great that is: You wait in line for a coffee or sit in the subway on the way to work and you can have a quick learning titbit while you have nothing else to do anyway? If people can fit their digital training sessions easy into their daily lives, that’s when they continuously do it.
Well, I guess no one needs convincing on that one, right? So just a short comment on that note: The most expensive tools do not have to be the best! If you pay money for lots of features, but you don’t use them, what’s the point? Figure out what you really need in a digital tool for your training strategy before you make a decision.
This goes hand in hand with the next aspect.
The best tool is the one that you can customise to fit your personal needs. What you need depends heavily on your blended learning strategy but also on the participants who use the tool. For example, if you start off with a great kick-off workshop and want to use a digital tool to keep people on track, you need a tool, which sends notifications or reminders to the users.
Having a tool that is easy to use and people can use when- and wherever is the first step in getting people engaged in the e-learning part of your training. But is that enough? Probably not for long term engagement.
When users notice they get something out of it, engagement naturally increases. A digital tool has to be fun and interesting to use right from the start so that learners won’t stop using it after their first peek at it. For example, a tool could offer some kind of gamification aspect. We personally believe the best way to learn and grow as a person is through conversation, after all, everything starts with a conversation – that’s why this forms the foundation of our app.
In our personal experience only mobile applications can offer all the features you need to make a digital tool highly effective for a successful blended learning strategy.
Mobile apps are ideal for blended learning because they can provide a cost-efficient tool, which is easy to use and enables training participants to learn anytime and anywhere. This is a crucial aspect to foster learner engagement.
They also allow sending reminders as notifications to the user on the device they are most often holding in their hands anyway – let’s be honest, who doesn’t need a little nudge from time to time?
So, all in all, mobile applications are the best option for a winning blended learning strategy.
There are great mobile apps to blend with your learning strategies out there. When you have to choose one, these steps will support you in finding the best possible solution for your individual case.
And that’s how you can make the best choice.
Learning and development in organisations has seen many trends come and go – but blended learning is here to stay, which is not surprising as it has all the ingredients for a winning strategy. Blended learning gives employees and executives the learning they really want and need in a way that works.
So let’s see what it’s all about and how you can make blended learning a winning strategy for the learning and development in your organisation.
Blended learning is the combination of traditional in-person learning (e.g., workshop, training, lecture) with some form of e-learning (e.g., mobile application, internet-based learning and Learning Management Systems).
The goal is to combine different learning environments so that learners benefit from the best possible learning conditions. The aim for the learner is to increase the effectiveness of learning and better support trainings to deliver longterm sustainable results.
Imagine you go to a seminar about giving feedback. You gain some perspective, get some insight and learn some interesting things, and in the best-case scenario you even get a bit of practice… and that’s it.
You go back to work and by the time there is indeed feedback to give, who knows how much time has already past. The threshold of actually applying what you learned will, very likely, be too high by then. And let’s be honest, it is hard to remember all of the new things you learned in just one day.
Now let’s imagine you have an e-learning platform which, every few days, reminds you of your learning. Maybe it also gives you some further hints and tips on how to put feedback into practice. This way you’ll not only remember what you have learned but will also be reminded and encouraged to put it into practice.
Of course, there are many possible ways to combine face-to-face learning (i.e., in-person learning) with e-learning. Let’s look at three different options.
First, and probably the most common form of blended learning in organisations is using an e-learning tool to follow-up an in-person training, as described above. You start with the face-to-face training(s) and then offer more in-depth content, repetition, practice or exercises afterwords. Alternatively, the e-learning tool can be used to prepare participants for the in-person training. In both options, the focus is on the face-to-face part.
Another option places the focus on the e-learning part and only uses in-person training every once in a while, for example, to address questions and foster motivation. Imagine an e-learning course about communication skills. Participants could learn about their own communication habits because they are repeatedly reminded to be aware of them, and start trying out new skills like active listening – and every now and then they come together to discuss their experiences and talk about more intense topics like communication in conflict situations.
The third form is a balanced share of e-learning and face-to-face training. Which option is best, depends on the focus of the training, on the number of trainings in total, and on the period of time across which the trainings are spread.
Before we have a look at what you need to be aware of when implementing blended learning, let’s have a quick look at its advantages. This will give you a more in-depth understanding of blended learning, enable you to avoid potential pitfalls and make the most of it.
The reason why blended learning is so effective is that by combining face-to-face learning with e-learning the major drawbacks of these learning processes are balanced out. Each of these methods has disadvantages when used as stand-alone learning processes. But when they are put together, the benefits of e-learning will make up for the drawbacks of in-person learning and vice versa – if you do it right. (We will get to that in a second, I promise.)
So the goal is to combine the best of both worlds. To be able to get the most out of this, it is very useful to understand the benefits and drawbacks of each of these learning processes.
As you can see, the major drawbacks of face-to-face learning can easily be resolved with the right e-learning tool. For example, if your training is a one-time event the effectiveness of it will increase by adding an e-learning tool to support continuous development. If we bring this together, we see all the benefits of blended learning.
All of these advantages sound amazing. So what’s the catch?! Well, as with most things, blended learning only delivers its full potential if it is done right. But don’t worry, we will show you what to look out for.
Blended learning is here to stay. And that’s a great thing. Combining the best of two worlds – in-person learning and e-learning – blended learning offers the unique opportunity to create an engaging and sustainable learning process for people to truly learn and grow.
And if you want to read more about why mobile apps are the best e-learning tool for blended learning, click here.