Using Blended Learning for the Big Crew Change

ByBon Crowder

With two generations leaving the workplace and two generations coming in, there’s never been a bigger and more challenging crew change in our industry. Now’s the time to maximize training!

Learning, and thus teaching, is different for each generation. And this places us uniquely in the position of trying every type of training, simultaneously. Sometimes in a good way. And sometimes not.

Blended learning combines the learning and teaching styles of all generations to bridge the knowledge gap. It provides a variety of learning opportunities at the right times so a learner will retain the most information. It involves various tools, styles and environments. Blended learning takes elements from face-to-face lectures and activities and mixes them with the convenience of computer based interaction

Although blending learning takes its name from using various media, the essential element is timing. Even if you never change your current plan of instruction for your training, you can increase retention through pre-work and post-work.

Consider these four steps to learning when designing your next training event.

Exposure is the first step to learning.

Exposure can be in the form of lecture, training video or observation. Often it’s also on-the-job training – whether the proper processes were taught or not.

The learner gets just enough information to start thinking about the processes.

You can start the learner’s exposure to your material in the classroom or through some pre-work. It can be in the form of a handout to read before the course or a small web-based training video or module.

Activity enhances exposure.

Any activity following the exposure enhances what was just shown. This can be in form of exercises, lab work or field simulations. Activity is anything connected to the exposure that allows the learner to take charge. They’re usually hands-on and engaging.

You can do these multiple times during a lecture class. In a web-based training module, your designers can build in places where the learner can participate. This could be a drag and drop interaction, offline work that requires online results reporting or participation in an online forum.

Even webinars can engage learners this way with offline independent exercises that they can “vote on” during the live event.

Settling allows passive learning.

The next step to learning a task or process is allowing the subconscious to work. The brain does this all on its own. In a training session, this can come in the form of lunch breaks, weekends or leaving for the day. For longer term training sessions, for example an 8-week course that meets on Saturdays, there is ample settling time.

Settling gives the brain a chance to process and sort the information. If there is no time for this, the retention is minimal. You can force settling by giving people longer breaks and asking them to go somewhere else for lunch. The change of scenery prompts the brain to engage with the material differently, thus sorting it more efficiently.

Re-engagement of the material solidifies it.

Re-engagement can show up as any situation that has stress or heightened emotions connected to the learning. This can be studying for and taking a certification exam or the initial experience on the job that needs the new knowledge. Most of adult training lacks exams, so re-engagement often shows up when the learner handles a real life situation for the first time.

The learner at this point will attempt to modify conscious thinking to best fit with what the subconscious has done during settling. The added stress will allow them to connect with what they’ve done better – as the emotions induce a different type of learning.

Re-engagement should be timely so that the learner still retains the information he needs and doesn’t get frustrated. To help your employees retain information better, make sure they have lots of practice after a training session is over.

 Bon Crowder is a Learning and Communications Strategist with Obsidian in Houston, Texas.
This article originally appeared in PennEnergy Jobs Energy Workforce

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