How often have we heard our clients lament about the main function of the Learning Management Systems (LMSs) – that they are largely concerned with the management of learning rather than the process of learning itself? Very often, if you ask me. However, after having seen a number of LMS implementations across various industries, I am of the opinion that an LMS can be smartly used to deliver effective blended learning that focuses primarily on the process of learning
In recent years, many organizations have been investing heavily in integrating technology into the learning/teaching process. Nowadays, almost all corporate learners have access to computers and the Internet. The rise in the learning retention rates of the employees by pairing an LMS with classroom training are clearly noticeable. Organizations now expect their trainers to use this new technology with traditional classroom teaching practices to give a blended learning experience to their employees. When used in a structured way, blended learning can allow organizations to mix different teaching materials and tools into an effective, integrated learning experience, giving learners an opportunity to move from passive learning to active learning.
Below mentioned are the 5 tips for managing blended learning effectively through an LMS.
Managing Resources For Instructor Led Training (ILT)
One of the key features of an Instructor Led Training (ILT) program is its ability to have complete interaction between the trainers and the students. In this environment, the trainers have the opportunity to provide engaging and dynamic material from a variety of sources and be responsive to their learners’ learning needs/ gaps. This approach undoubtedly, manages to achieve the highest retention rates.
An LMS supports this by enabling a continuous learning environment before, during, after and beyond the learning event itself. Trainers can deliver pre-course materials such as the training objectives, agenda etc. online prior to ILT session class. Relevant articles, videos and assessments can be delivered anytime throughout the duration of the training. This allows the classroom time to be invested on instruction and interaction rather than the training administration.
Managing Learner Interaction After Conclusion Of The Training Program
The end of an ILT session does not necessarily mean the end of learning for the learners. More often than not, learners continue to interact, discuss and debate on the topic learnt long after the ILT session is over.
Through the LMS’s collaborative capabilities such as discussion boards, forums, wikis, blogs and chat, learners can continue to share relevant ideas and materials, and continue to learn from each other. It also helps develop a strong community outside of the classroom training. This sense and place of community is a powerful force that can drive learning in the enterprise. In the organizational context, knowledge is no longer contained in silos defined by geography, function or domain, and can be shared and viewed transparently.
Managing Training Activities Effectively
Almost all LMSs provide a facility to manage a separate profile of the trainer. This allows the trainers to keep a tab on the progress of each learner. The trainer can also create and/ or manage his/her own assignments, sessions and assessments which then can be assigned to the respective learners or group of learners. This helps in streamlining and centralizing the complete training management process making it more efficient and effective.
Managing Virtual Classroom Sessions
With web conferencing tools like Webex, Goto-Meeting, etc., the trainer can deliver a learning session as a part of the blended learning approach even from a remote location. This eliminates the need of the trainer to travel on-site to multiple locations, which is an expensive and time consuming affair. For many organizations virtual classroom sessions are becoming one of the most important components of their blended learning strategy.
An LMS helps in managing learner’s registration, nomination, cancellation process online. A well defined nomination workflow allows a Line Manager to nominate the peer team member for an ILT session. Further, a good LMS provides strong foundational capabilities like inventory management, venue management, vendor management, etc. Also it helps in tracking and generating MIS reports for the classroom training occurring in a physical setting. This ensures that the formerly resource intensive task of tracking and generating reports is automated thereby increasing the efficiency of the training function.
To summarize, the increased use of technology in organizations has led to a rise in the use of blended learning. While there are many ways to deliver blended learning, incorporating various learning materials within a learning management system (LMS) is one of the most effective way to ensure better retention and hence, performance. How do you use YOUR LMS to manage blended learning programs? Please share your insightful experiences/ tips in comments below.