By Norm Ford
Today I want to talk about blended learning, the third component of successful compliance training. So far, as part of a six-part series on this topic, I have discussed the vital role alignment and a risk-based approach play in the design, implementation, and realization of an effective and successful compliance program.
Before continuing, I want to make sure that you know what I mean by blended learning. I think the most straightforward definition is that:
Blended learning uses several delivery methods to engage each learner’s preferred learning style.
In many ways, compliance training lends itself to this approach. For example, current OSHA regulations determine when and what training is required, and as is often the case, OSHA will also dictate how to conduct the training. OSHA believes that an effective training program allows employees to participate in the training process and should include an opportunity to practice newly acquired skills and knowledge. By participating in discussions, asking questions, learning through hands-on experiences or with role-playing exercises employees become more engaged in the training process, and the results will reflect this.
Additionally, a blended learning approach is particularly effective for high-risk topics that require more than just a cursory knowledge or awareness. Recent neuroscience research supports the notion of long-term motor memory formation – that the brain hardwires and consolidates motor skills into long-term memory. To achieve long-term memory, a job or task that involves a motor skill really ought to have a demonstration component as learning through demonstration and repetition helps the behavior become automatic over time.
Real World Example
While at work, especially work involving potentially hazardous equipment and situations, workers must not only master the knowledge elements of their job; they must also demonstrate proficiency in the operational or physical aspects as well. Forklift operator training is the first example that comes to mind. OSHA states that training for this task “shall” consist of a combination of formal instruction (e.g., lecture, discussion, interactive computer learning, video tape, written material), practical training (demonstrations performed by the trainer and practical exercises performed by the trainee), and evaluation of the operator’s performance in the workplace.
In other words – a blend of learning.
Skillsoft knows that learners need three things to have an optimal learning experience: relevance, meaning and emotion. And we’ve used these elements to form the baseline of our latest content offerings as we are now using a mix of design approaches that are learner-centric to meet learners’ needs better.
The learner gets material that will portray situations that closely mirror actual issues and situations found or experienced in real life. We develop these scenarios with characters that are relatable, sympathetic, outrageous, entertaining and believable. This approach ensures the content is more relatable and therefore more meaningful and more memorable.
I do want to stress though that blended learning is more than simply adding video to traditional classroom setting training. It is more even than adding online learning to your programs.
Blended learning is the idea of incorporating opportunities for learning to happen in the workplace so that practice and discussion can occur in the context of the organization. So think of shorter videos, of job aids, questionnaires, and surveys which contribute hugely to mastery and retention of learning.
Because blended learning programs offer a diverse range of learning opportunities, they enable greater levels of compliance training to happen. With both the advances in technology and the current focus on brain science helping us to understand how learning happens, it is now L&D’s duty to see that their compliance training efforts combine resources to produce more powerful and targeted programs.
Norman Ford is the VP of Operations at Compliance Solutions for Skillsoft.