Blended learning is a combination of traditional in-classroom training and online learning. It streamlines the training process, and gives the ability to deliver engaging training to a large number of learners. It's particularly helpful for learners because they can access training resources outside of scheduled face-to-face training sessions.
Blended learning however largely depends on the technical resources with which the learning experience is delivered - these tools need to be up to date, reliable, and user-friendly in order to have a meaningful impact.
So, this brings us to our next point – SharePoint. SharePoint is a wonderful tool for content management and collaboration which lends itself perfectly to blended learning.
Blended learning has many great benefits and many of them tend to fall into the category of 'learner-centric'. While this is wonderful, can we agree that it would be nice to have a system that leans a bit 'trainer-centric' as well?
Trainers spend hours upon hours putting together their learning material in preparation for a class, whether it's in-classroom or online. Often times, it also includes multiple people and multiple versions of documents. With two out of three organizations using SharePoint, it's fair to say that most likely these important training documents have been routed and stored within SharePoint.
We also know all too well that the more a document is moved, the more it opens the door to errors. Remember the telephone game? Someone tells the person next to them a piece of information from which they tell the person next to them and so on and so forth. By the time it reaches the last person, the message is completely different. This is very much what happens when crucial training info goes from computer to computer, file to file, email to email. Uploaded into this system and that system. Bottom line…multiple steps lead to more errors.
With that said, wouldn’t it be nice to have the ability to stay in the same system you’ve been working on for your training and bring the learners to you? SharePoint makes that possible.
Keeping everything in one tidy place in SharePoint will ensure you have the latest version of your training content. Next time you need a handout, presentation or video, SharePoint's improved search capabilities make it a snap to find. In addition, you have the option to use strict controls that allow a trainer to lock the document once it’s in its final state and dictate who can and cannot have access to it.
Once a classroom training is over, create a team site within SharePoint and download all training documents. Since you've already stored everything in the system, you can easily grab those documents from a SharePoint library and plunk directly into your team site. Voila! Now grant access to your site to specific students using active directory! Don't worry, they ALL know their password because it's the same one they use to log in to their work computer.
According to the 70:20:10 learning model, 70% is experiential, 20% is social and just 10% is from formal learning. Your team site can help with both experiential and social aspects. As an example, let's say that after the class is over, you give your students a project to work on to help learn the materials and hone their new skills. A SharePoint site offers specific kinds of tools and workspaces that you can use to communicate with team members, track projects, coordinate deadlines, and collaboratively create and edit documents.
Or, if you want to take it a step further, you can use a SharePoint-based system like ShareKnowledge to connect a discussion to a specific course, assign courses for learners based on organizational unit or other attributes to a group of users, or utilize the PowerSync™ feature that automatically adjusts training needs based on promotions, transfers and team changes without additional staff work.
In 2014, over 30 percent of training hours were dedicated to blended e learning, which will continue to increase. And, choosing the right technology makes a world of difference in the experience both learners and trainers have. Blended learning in SharePoint provides an effective solution with superior content management and collaborative features that are up-to-date, reliable and user-friendly.