Blended learning is a buzzword frequently banded about in training circles. It essentially means training that combines online learning with classroom-based tuition and its popularity is growing fast. This is because studies have shown that it fosters higher student engagement, increased learner retention levels and generally has a positive impact on training attitudes.
This type of learning environment is particularly applicable to project management. Projects by their nature require a lot of on-site working, sometimes in extreme environments. This doesn’t always lend itself well to traditional, classroom-based learning. Courses continue, however, to be a very important aspect of training because of the way they allow students to reflect on what they know already, share experiences with peers and apply their learning to an industry environment. There is significant evidence to support the move to blended learning environments, which have been shown to be highly beneficial for students. In this situation, the training is partly classroom-based and partly self-directed within an advanced e-learning environment.
Consider a traditional four day project management course that would have been conducted entirely in the classroom in the past. With a blended learning approach, the same course would involve two days of classroom training and a further two days worth of training completed online. This could be done over a three month period enabling the student to fit the course around existing commitments.
As training providers, our experience working with a blended learning approach has been that it can deliver exceptional results. It helps students to reinforce training content in their own time, either individually or as part of a study group. Students are given the opportunity to reflect further on what they discussed in the classroom and can apply it to further scenarios, perhaps as part of an assessment or coursework. Sharing experiences is particularly relevant in project management training. So much of the learning process involves talking to people with similar experiences, whether that is done face-to-face in a classroom or online in a support group.
Study at a convenient and flexible pace
Today’s blended learning environments therefore offer a high level of flexibility allowing students to complement existing training and study at their own pace. They also facilitate the necessary levels of interactivity amongst students, with online interactive mentoring, international discussion forums and virtual classrooms. In some instances, live tutors deliver lectures via a webcam to students based anywhere and can also offer one-to-one coaching on specific issues.
Compare this with a 100% online training course. It might be possible to cover the content of the syllabus by distance learning but the student would lack the contextual insight they get from a group discussion. Being a good project manager is so much more than simply passing endless exams. The insight a student can gain when interacting with a tutor who can help them apply a theoretical discussion to their own industry, is invaluable. This is especially so with more advanced training, or for courses focusing on the development of specific soft skills – leadership or negotiation for example. With a blended learning approach, the student can learn the functional and theoretical skills elements of their courses via distance e-learning and verify this with online assessment prior to attending any classroom training. This in turn means that they can apply their new knowledge and skills and relate them to real-life scenarios and job roles.
The information for this post has been taken from an article written by 20|20 CEO Tony Marks CLICK HERE to read the full article.
20|20 has just completed a 250k GBP re-development of its flagship Blended Project Management development Programme ‘iKnowledge’.