Skills gaps cause a good deal of issues for companies, ranging from increased stress on employees to losing business to competitors. These gaps are an increasingly difficult business problem that many are anxious to solve.
That’s why blended learning is growing in popularity.
The evolution of this approach to learning is making bridging skills gaps easier. Today, organisations are saving time and resources, all while their workforce gains new skills in areas that are mutually beneficial.
Today, blended learning is more personalised, engaging and accessible while also lower costs.
A more personalised experience helps improve engagement and adoption rates. At the same time, since people don’t always need to travel for training, there is a lower associated cost. The combination of benefits like these helps drive up the return on investment.
Let’s dive into what caused these shifts and how they’re impacting organisations.
How Has Blended Learning Changed Over Time?
Blended learning combines different approaches to building skills: traditional, in-person classes, online lessons, hands-on labs, micro-learning content, peer-to-peer discussions and far more. It's a multi-faceted approach to learning.
But, for many, learning at work didn’t always look this way.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, many thought of on-the-job training as in-person, intensive classroom sessions. However, the pandemic disrupted norms like these for virtually everyone.
Because of shelter-in-place requirements, companies needed to instigate a shift in mindset quickly — emphasising that learning on a tablet, phone, or laptop could be just as interesting and engaging as a traditional classroom. And this shift required creating interest and fostering collaboration.
Blended learning today has an increased emphasis on digital media, personalisation, and practice — again largely driven by the pandemic, which changed how businesses operate and how people learn.
“The pandemic, while creating challenges for human physical and mental health, was a period of growth for the IT industry. We faced a talent gap, and digital learning played a crucial role in bridging that gap, helping us prepare for future business requirements,” said Sharvari Lingayat, VP and Global Business HR Head of Sonata Software, in a panel discussion during the Transformation in Action Week.
The panel discussion at Transformation in Action Week focused on how organisations are looking to blended learning to bridge their skills gaps and the outcomes they’re seeing.
Lingayat spoke with peers from the industry, like Priti Dahima, Vice President, Learning and Development, SBI Card; Govind Srinivasan, Global L&D Leader, Conduent; and Ankur Gupta, Vice President, Marketing, Skillsoft.
Speaking about the drivers for the growth in blended learning transformation, Srinivasan outlined three key transformations that have reshaped the learning landscape.
Synchronous to Asynchronous
First, there's a shift from synchronous to asynchronous learning. While synchronous learning was prevalent in the past. Today, learners have embraced asynchronous learning, which provides the flexibility to engage with content at their own pace.
Classroom to Online
The second transformation is the virtualisation of synchronous learning. Instructor-led training, once conducted in traditional classrooms, has now seamlessly transitioned into virtual settings, becoming a fundamental part of modern learning.
Education to Experience
Lastly, the evolution of the components of blended learning focuses not just on education but also on exposure and experience.
The changing dynamics of the workforce, driven by the remote or hybrid work model and the increasing need for personalised experiences, have significantly impacted the transformation of learning. This shift towards personalisation and the integration of innovative tools in the learning process reflect the broader trend of tailoring experiences to individual needs and preferences.
For these reasons, blended learning has become an increasingly popular method to upskill people at work due to its multi-modal nature — meaning people have many options to choose from.
People can choose how, when and where they want to learn, putting them in control of their professional development, all while new technologies make it easier than ever to consume learning content.
Artificial Intelligence Speeds Up the Evolution
AI is a crucial technology for personalisation, enabling learning and content recommendations. Generative AI has been transformative because of its ability to use natural language processing to make use of AI more accessible to a broad audience.
“For learners, the ability to swiftly curate content tailored to their needs, with a single prompt command is groundbreaking. It's a level of responsiveness we've never witnessed before. The instant access to knowledge and real-time answers through generative AI chatbots will revolutionise learning,” Govind noted.
Take, for example, Skillsoft's Conversation AI Simulator (CAISY) scenarios. It's already a significant leap forward. Imagine users creating their scenarios and customising them for client meetings, customer service, product development, and more.
The impact extends to organisations, encompassing instructional designers, training facilitators, and administrators. The transformation is poised to be rapid, dynamic, intelligent, and immensely beneficial.
Blended Learning Is Most Successful When It’s Inclusive
The success of learning programs crucially depends on a co-creative approach.
SBI Card’s Dahima defined co-creation as the engagement between the learner, the business stakeholders, and the organisational vision in designing the training programs. This approach clearly establishes the “why" and “what" of the program or the goal.
With this in mind, those in talent development can create learning experiences that are not only personalised but also highly effective, ensuring that they meet their intended objectives and contribute to the overall success of the organisation.
Find out more about the power of blended learning by watching the entire panel discussion. You’ll hear first-hand about the panel’s approach to blended learning, the outcomes they’re seeing in their organisations, and why you should consider it at your workplace.