Often when an instructional designer is tasked with building a performance-based, blended learning solution to address a training need, the first constraint they consider is the available technology. The technology you choose can have a huge impact on the success of any blended learning solution. Questions to consider are: “Can we use video?”, “Can we build a robust online simulation?”, or “Do we have enough broadband?”
Since we’re dealing with training, shouldn’t the course content be the first thing we consider? Given the pressure to put everything online, instructional designers need to consider the actual subject-matter we’re dealing with. While some content is ideal for online delivery, some isn’t!
Early in my career as a trainer, a mentor said something that’s stuck with me throughout my career— “Content is king.” Whenever you’re considering a training solution, the focus should be on the subject-matter you’re dealing with, not the bells and whistles available in the technology.
Here are three key considerations to keep in mind when planning a blended learning solution:
1. Type of Content
The type of content is a major factor in deciding on the best delivery strategy. Is the content technical, interpersonal, conceptual, or a combination of all three?
Technical content tends to break down easily into a procedure and lends itself well to an e-learning environment.
Interpersonal content can prove to be difficult in an online environment given the need for face-to-face practice. Robust and interactive roleplays can be difficult to build and implement in an e-learning environment.
2. Stability of Content
It becomes expensive and labor intensive when content that changes frequently is delivered as part of an e-learning approach. Content and related quizzes and tests need to be updated frequently, so web-based tutorials or e-learning modules may not be the ideal delivery method for constantly changing content. Consider the stability of the content before deciding on your delivery strategy.
3. Complexity of Content
The more complex the content, the more there may be a need for face-to-face instruction. A blended learning approach, combining both e-learning and face-to-face elements, may be an even better option. The advantage of face-to-face delivery is that it may allow for more discussion, debate, and deeper explanation. So, give some extra thought to the delivery you choose for more complicated content.
The technology available to us as instructional designers is impressive and very tempting, but keep in mind “Content is King!” A blended learning approach may be the perfect training strategy, but remember to consider all the factors.
What challenges do YOU face in using technology in your training? Feel free to share your comments with us!
Langevin’s Certified e-Learning Specialist program is jam-packed with tools you may want to consider adding to your instructional design toolkit. Check it out soon!