How to find the best L&D approach – an overview
Each training project has a matching L&D approach.
The first step to find the one L&D approach corresponding to your project is to define the objective of your training intervention.
In a second step you take a look at your organisation’s framework by replying to the following questions:
How complex is your task?
How often will the training be delivered?
Who is your target audience?
On average, how many participants do you have?
What is the L&D infrastructure at your Organisation?
How important is and what time commitment is given to your staff`s development?
After you established your organisation’s and project’s framework and objectives, let me give you a short overview on popular L&D approaches. This helps you to find the right match for your training project and target audience.
Let’s start with the L&D approach with least implications and demands on your Organisation:
1. The classic L&D Approach
When using the classic L&D approach you may choose the delivery method freely as long as there is only one method chosen for each project. This means that depending on your project you may choose a digital learning concept or classroom training or any other method.
- A one-week classroom training for new employees in an organisation
- A web-based Training to teach employees on an ISO-standard.
- You handle each project independently from the next (little coordination effort).
- You may choose the delivery method individually for each project.
- You only require the resources needed to for the chosen delivery method.
- Relatively easy to implement as you only need to have an overview on whether all topics are covered and whether the delivery method is appropriate for each piece of content.
- The trainees may choose freely as there is no interdependence between the different courses (easy tracking).
- The trainees may choose the sequence of the content based on their preference.
- Interdependencies may not be as obvious. Therefore, complex learning interventions might be difficult to deliver using this approach.
- As there are usually no set repetitions, it is highly probable that the attendees will forget a lot of what they learnt.
Hint: You will be able to guide your learners using a learning platform. These platforms (e.g. an LMS) have the capability of rolling out content sequentially. Like this you are able to trigger recapitulations and build on previous knowledge to deepen the knowledge. Moreover, using a gamification concept, you are able to give incentives to create a better learning experience.
2. Blended Learning – Mix it well
Usually, the term Blended Learning means the combination of a digital teaching method with classroom training. However, also various digital formats or webinars may be combined.
An example of a simple Blended Learning concept is a training course on effective remote communication consisting of:
- Teaching the basics in an e-learning course
- Face-to-face training or webinars with discussions, questions and exercises to apply what has been learned using e.g. scenarios and role plays
- E-learning to deepen or assess the knowledge. Exercises to assess and apply the knowledge such as scenarios and simulations may be used, but you may also add some new learning.
- To top your program off you could finish it with an assessment and certification.
In principle, Blended Learning can be used for all topics.
- Digital learning may level out an audience with different initial knowledge for a more efficient classroom training.
- A deeper understanding of the content is achieved as different teaching methods lead to multichannel, multisensory encoding.
- Repetitions of the topic are part of the program. This ensures the transfer of the knowledge into the long-term memory (forgetting curve).
- Students attending a course that has both classroom and e-learning elements show better learning outcomes than participants exposed to either of the modes exclusively.
- Each teaching mode may be used for what it does best:
- Self-learning units (digital learning) allow learning at one’s own pace and the opportunity to consult another source.
- The face-to-face sessions focus on activities, in-depth learning (e.g. through problem-solving tasks), social aspects and direct speech of the teacher.
- Your organisation must have a learning culture that gives learners time, space and priority for further education.
- It has to be ensured that learning modules that build on each other can be completed in the right order and at reasonable time intervals.
- For digital learning, too, time windows of undisturbed learning must be granted.
- The necessary equipment must be available to the learners.
2.1 Flipped Classroom – a special form of Blended Learning
This L&D approach comes from the school sector. Here, teaching usually stands for the transfer of knowledge and homework for its consolidation through application and practice. With the Flipped Classroom concept, it is the other way around (flipped). Here, knowledge is imparted through e-learning and print media before the classroom training. In the face-to-face part, the focus is then on deepening, applying and transferring knowledge. The acquired knowledge can be used to solve problems, like a conflict situation after a communication training.
It is important with this L&D approach that all participants come prepared to the classroom training.
3. Social (Collaborative) Learning – use the expertise in your organisation
Humans are social beings. This has been already established by Aristotle. Learning from each other has been with us since we were children. We enjoy working together (collaborative). For us, social and collaborative learning therefore belong together. As an organisation you can draw on this natural form of learning. Thereby, Social or Collaborative Learning is as diverse as our social contacts: Mentoring programs, learning groups, platforms that allow discussions (similar to social media), FAQ databases or Wikis.
- Studies show that we are more likely to retain what we have learned if we have learned it in a collaborative environment.
- The knowledge and expertise of a large number of employees is at your disposal
- The job satisfaction of your employees increases when they are allowed to share their knowledge. They feel accepted.
- Knowledge transfer takes place laterally (from colleague to colleague). This shows a greater acceptance in comparison to top-down knowledge transfer (from lecturer/head to learner): “The colleague knows what he is talking about”.
- Your organisation must have a corporate culture that is open to new ways and methods.
- Your organisation must have a learning culture that gives learners and teachers time, space and priority for further education.
- You have to ensure the quality of information and contributions. Validation must be part of the collaboration platform/processes.
- It has to be ensured that knowledge is easily and quickly accessible so that learners do not spend too much time searching.
4. Social Blended Learning – a combination of the two L&D approaches
You do have the formal sessions described in the Blended Learning approach above, but also a collaboration platform in which learners are grouped together for onboarding or a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), for example. In the platform they receive different media such as videos and texts, tasks, WBTs etc. and have the possibility to work on exercises together, ask questions or discuss them with each other or the teacher.
See above in Blended and Social Learning for the advantages and prerequisites of this approach.
4.1 MOOC – a special form of social Blended Learning
In a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) many participants start a Social Blended Learning program at the same time. Often a MOOC is divided into learning units, which are rolled out weekly, for example. This ensures that the participants can work on the same material at the same time and exchange information with each other.
5. Modular Learning – the L&D approach for maximum flexibility
Modular Learning means chunking the learning objectives into smaller learning sections (modules). Depending on your project you might divide them by topics or have different experience levels of the same topic or both. Thus, everyone can enter the training program and take exactly those modules that he or she wants or needs to learn or get more knowledge in. As an example, let’s see how this might be useful for an onboarding program. If you have participants who are new to your organisation but have different previous professional experience you may educate them together without boring those with professional experience: The modules that introduce your organisation, your values, your culture, your mission and your way of working are relevant regardless of their previous professional experience. Whereas, information on the legal framework or basic work steps are only of interest to inexperienced new staff.
- Every learner receives a training program that is tailored to his or her needs
- Very efficient, no scrap learning (learning of redundant content)
- Your organisation needs to be able to provide tailored learning paths
- Determination of objective criteria for module selection (learning path determination)
Start your search for the right L&D approach by asking yourself what the ideal solution for your training needs would be using this overview as a first guidance. If you require further or individual advice or if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
In the second step, take a look at your organisation. Does it fulfil the prerequisites for this approach? Please note that it is especially important to consider the learning culture and not only the technical aspect of it.
Would you like more information on this topic?
Then follow or revisit our blog. We plan further posts on this topic investigating the individual L&D approaches in more detail.
We hope that you found this post useful and would love it if you shared your experiences and questions in the comments.