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A torch for the fog: Implementing Blended Learning

Proactive RTOs are remaining competitive and relevant by responding with strategies to enable elearning to meet the needs and expectations of learners and of industry. Understand that elearning embraces a range of blended delivery mode options that give new freedom to course design. Think of face to face, social, self paced and online training options. Key strategic issues include:

  • Infrastructure
  • Staff development
  • Content design and management

Determine your “brand” of e-learning and decide on your delivery strategy.
Different courses might lend themselves to different strategies too – for example a blended learning approach with asynchronous access to online content and communication activities may be best for traineeships while a blended approach using a virtual classroom for collaboration and content sharing may suit a Certificate IV/Diploma style course aimed at existing professionals. Use pilots of strategies to evaluate the model and from which you can apply to other courses on your scope down the track.

Identity opportunities from existing/proposed training

Pick winners from existing courses where there is a strong model of facilitated learning and lively engaging assessment strategy. Courses that are already popular and have proven to be interactive, engaging and interesting to learners can make the transition to a great elearning course. Distil the essence of this success and adapt to both the limitations and possibilities elearning presents. 

Demonstrate value.
Elearning often fails to progress in an organisation despite it success with learners and trainers because care has not been take to show Management value in an elearning approach. Without this data it can be easier for Management to cling to existing “face to face” training for which trusted evaluation data exists. Design specific quantitative and qualitative evaluation measures that report on workplace performance improvements, assessment outcomes, the development by learners of independent learning and problem solving and learner engagement.

Measure during, post and six months after delivery to make links between elearning implementation and learning/performance improvements over time due to e-learning. Go further and demonstrate cost savings and efficiencies compared to traditional elearning (make sure you separate pilot delivery development costs which will reduce over time and course delivery costs). Be proactive in reporting these results with management.
Aligning to strategic plan, vision, goals

Embedding a statement in your organisations strategic planning documents announces an intention to the whole organisation to support the implementation at all levels – technical, marketing, financial, trainers.  Ensure you get Management commitment and understanding and sign off on an Implementation plan. Embed into the plan measures with the potential to demonstrate value of your elearning.

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 Identify the staff roles you will need and the PD model required to ensure a coordinated implementation:
Department Managers usually will buy into elearning implementation but may need a supporting background briefing document to understand the full range of issues. They may also need to draft a change management strategy to encourage the RTO to implement new ways of delivering training and supporting learners through learning technologies.
Subject Matter Experts will require support to understand and apply instructional design strategies to support the design of elearning delivery and content. They will need to work closely with both trainers and instructional designers (often one and the same role in small to medium RTOs) to develop consistent elearning, the use of common Learner Management System (LMS) tools and rapid elearning software.
Administration staff will need to be developed to understand how to use the LMS to enrol and assist learners with support issues.

Training staff will need to support Subject Matter Experts to develop effective assessment strategies including verification. Training will be required to support trainers to understand and apply synchronous facilitation and support methods in virtual classrooms as well as moderation methods for managing learners interactions in asynchronous deliveries that utilise discussion forums, text chat and social media.
Choose the infrastructure to suit your design strategy.
Pick the LMS; Virtual Classroom and elearning content develop tools that compliment your implementation strategy. Investigate LMS systems that will bridge learner log ins and assessment outcomes with your existing or future Student Management System.
Audit current capacity and staff commitment to change. 
Take a comprehensive look at your staff and what they are already doing/investigating in the online sphere in the work and private life. Identify  “Champions” who believe in the potential of elearning and match with subject matter experts to develop an instructional design approach that informs their contribution to designing elearning interactions, training and facilitation assessments and content engagement in the elearning course.

Choose elearning content develop tools that compliment the instructional design approach you develop.
A good elearning consultant can help you with this process, along with developing an implementation plan. Bring on board staff to be inducted as required and across different departments using your Champions as leaders. Don’t dismiss the capacity of staff with low IT literacy to be part of the implementation – their attitude to elearning potential is more important than their ability. Avoid vocal resistors to change and the use of learning technologies – they will stymie your implementation and sap energy and team motivation to succeed.
Get Help!
Seek out independent consultants who can give you strategic advice free from vendor influence. This is what we do at Yum Studio. A good consultant should be able to help you with a whole of business elearning strategy to assist you with each element of the enrolment to certification cycle for each of your training, including:

  • Strategic
  • Infrastructure
  • Staffing
  • Content and Assessment
  • Facilitation and support
  • Marketing
  • Dealing with Vendors


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