We sat down and talked with Learning Strategist, Jackie Craft, about pure digital versus blended learning solutions in the changing Australian business environment.
Jackie has seen two big trends with businesses recently. The first trend reflects the increased use of cloud based systems resulting in a dispersed workforce. Working in new locations gives companies flexibility around time zones, working hours and reduced overheads. “One of our big financial clients have moved some of their support workforce to working from home,” says Jackie. “If you were previously training face to face, that obviously becomes more difficult if your team are working from home, especially if they’re across the country. How do you train people if you’re not able to see them face to face?”
The second trend has been a focus on businesses which operate across the globe in standardising their quality of service while reducing training costs. In this instance, the challenges are the physical cost as well as the time spent when face to face training across call centres: “The volume is huge and there’s frequent staff turnover. What that really means is that companies are thinking differently about how they train staff.”
Digital learning as a dispersed workforce training solution
When implementing digital learning solutions, Jackie “converted all of the client’s training to be entirely digital, making it accessible to all staff.” This did mean that the staff providing customer support never actually saw the products they were supporting customer queries about, so the digital learning needed to be very interactive and visual. Staff needed to be able to visualise not just the customer’s query, but also what the best solution was and the most effective way to communicate it.
Workshops with key subject matter experts captured the different types of support and needs of the different learning groups, and the key scenarios that staff from each would need to be able to address. Based on this, scenarios that reflect daily interactions became the vehicle for communicating learning objectives, modelling best practice behaviours, and asking learners an interactive series of problem-solving questions.
Blended learning as a global workforce training solution
Another client, based in Australia and with offices and call centres around the world, sought the benefits of blended learning to optimise the training of their workers. Digital training was structured to dovetail with face to face learning, with the ultimate aim of seeing the blended learning advantages of reduced time that staff would spend away from their roles, and reduced costs in time and money to train them. This method was also utilised by Savv-e in the CPR training module created for the RLSSA
As in digital-only learning, dialogue with subject matter experts is essential to build a strategy linking the two aspects of blended learning, as well as establishing the real-world narratives that keep learners engaged. “Because it’s their scenario, they’re coming up with the common things that are said, it’s very relatable. And I think that’s a big thing. Even the simulations we do are interactive - they get learners to make decisions as they engage with the simulation, which is better than simply watching a video.”
Jackie explains that in blended learning, the challenge is “working out what’s best suited to digital vs face to face. .. So the principal I use designing this is that you want to try and teach people the core foundations in the digital, and in the face to face component build on those skills with practical activities that relate to their real world.” By commencing blended learning with the digital component first, interactive and engaging scenarios model best practices and ask learners to make decisions in free-text and multiple choice that dictate the ultimate success or failure of the simulation. Then, when learners participate in face to face training, they are able to practice what they’ve learned under the guidance of a coach. When they return to the workforce, “coaches and leaders can go back and check how they’re doing, confirm that principles are being adhered to in the everyday.”
So, how did the use of blended learning meet the client’s solutions? “We reduced their face to face training commitment by 2.5 days, so it results in a 60% reduction in cost of face to face training,” Jackie explains. “The interaction replicates exactly what happens and it builds on those narratives of how their staff work every day. They thought it was the best thing ever.”
Well there you have it - two different styles of learning to cater to two different workforces.
If you want to find out more, we would love for you to get in touch.
Jackie specialises in Instructional Design, Project Management and Consulting with extensive experience in large scale project management. Jackie has successfully lead and implemented multiple projects for many high profile corporate and government clients, which included stakeholder engagement and vendor management. She has successfully delivered targeted learning solutions to clients across a range of industries, including NSW Department of Justice, Munro Footwear Group, Qantas and Commonwealth Bank.