As technology continuously makes our lives easier than ever, it’s no wonder that companies and instructors everywhere have been revamping education to include digital components in the learning process. This approach of combining traditional face-to-face training led by expert instructors, with e-learning modules, online educational materials and digital opportunities for interaction (including games, quizzes, web content, videos, articles, audio books, podcasts, digital engagement, etc.) is called blended learning. Even strategy leaders like McKinsey & Company have stated that “the future of corporate academies lies in blended learning.”
The question then arises: how can you create a successful blended learning program? We contacted an outstanding expert in the field of training and education and leading TEDx coach with a passion for helping others, Cristina Chis, to find out more. Cristina explained that there is no perfect mix of in-person, e-learning and supplemental materials that is suitable for all training. As individuals and organizations are unique and pros and cons exist for each separate method, the blended learning journey should be adapted and personalized for each type of learning goal and audience.
Continuous Learning from Almost Anywhere
Focusing on e-learning first, Cristina highlighted the benefits of learning at anytime, anywhere, and on any device (ATAWAD) without the worry of travel or specific time limitations. E-learning also allows individuals to learn independently and actively with the option to explore their questions and process information in their own time. Creating an e-learning tool, however, can be very time-consuming. Cristina mentioned that a well-done 20-minute learning module can take at least 7-8 hours to bring to life and can easily become outdated.
Fortunately, leading data analysis software provider Minitab has taken the lead in e-learning for mastering statistics, data analysis and Minitab Statistical Software with our dynamic program, Quality Trainer. This online tool teaches individuals and organizations how to analyze their data anytime with animated lessons, quizzes and hands-on exercises.
Cristina stressed that tailored content and customization can be an advantage of e-learning. Quality Trainer specifically has an advantage for team leaders, mentors and training managers in that they can track user progress and assign specific course sections.
Stryker, a leading medical technology company that provides innovative implants and medical and surgical equipment to healthcare providers in over 120 countries globally, looked to Quality Trainer for help when they made statistical training mandatory for all new engineers. Quality Trainer gave Stryker the ability to cost-effectively train their new hires immediately without having to wait for group training.
Ed Kelley, an advanced quality engineer at Stryker, spoke of the tool fondly: “I really appreciate how Quality Trainer helps us proactively deploy training to our people, so that they can do their best work,” he said.
In this case, e-learning was the most effective option for their data analysis training due to timing and cost.
Sharing Knowledge from Others and Connecting in Real-Time
Continuing on, Cristina revealed that istructor-led training had its own benefits – including adaptive demonstrations tailored to the group – because the trainer can respond instantly, gauge, assess and increase trainee engagement based on non-verbal communication and body language. In-person trainings are a dedicated time to learn, but that can come with high costs with travel and time away from work needed. Cristina also mentioned that introverts may feel more comfortable and at ease with e-learning environments as asynchronous e-learning provides that crucial processing and preparation time, more independence and control over the level of interaction with other participants. However e-learning can remove the communication with others and being together in a group creates more interactive discussions and a bond in the training class, a specific energy that can be motivating and inspiring.
Realizing the importance of face-to-face training, Minitab hosts hands-on Training sessions all year long through both public sessions in several locations around the world and on-site at various companies so everyone has the opportunity to learn statistics and Minitab Statistical Software.
With our experts instructing and providing guidance, attendees like Barbara Lis of Raynor Intraocular Lenses Limited found training beneficial because of the way the trainer explained statistics and answered the questions.
“I shall apply what I learnt to improve the quality of the product — it should speed up the data analysis I do and make it easier, so I can undertake additional tasks,” she said.
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Overall, Cristina brought to light that blended learning can be very worthwhile to all individuals and organizations with the proper mix. However, as Cristina and McKinsey & Company point out “there is no magic number for allocating time between digital and in-person learning; different industries, and different companies within them, must determine the mix that makes the most sense for their circumstances and capability-development priorities.”
Data and analytics professionals specifically need to continue to evolve their capabilities due to the volume of available data and organization leadership’s focus on finding innovations and efficiencies, but luckily blended learning can get them there.