How you can use blended learning to support technology change

Your organisation is introducing a new IT system, it’ll be a big change for employees and they’ll need new skills to be able to competently use the system.

You already know this will be no mean feat. Employees aren’t supportive of change and getting them used to a new system takes time. They’ll need a lot of encouragement and support to move to make the switch.

You’re wondering what approach to take for the learning to embed the new system as quick as possible.

There’s a methodology you can use. Blended learning – I’ve used it to support changing IT systems previously, and I can vouch that it works.

This article will share the key reasons why blended learning is great for upskilling employees for IT system changes.

Why use blended learning?

I’d recommend blended learning for several reasons:

  1. Accessibility – Once you’ve created the content, it’s then available for staff whenever they need it. Resulting in less dependence on co-workers or ‘champions’ for support and guidance.  
  2. The emphasis on face to face learning shifts – You can still include face to face practice but instead of telling them about the system basics. Focus on skills development and practice that’s specific to how they’ll use the system. You can also use the classroom time to gain knowledge on what barriers, if any, exist to the system implementation.
  3. Meets different learning preferences – Blended learning appeals to different learning preferences, which results in a quicker learning process.

The three steps to blended learning

There are three key steps to consider for blended learning:

Is this learning suitable for a blended approach?

Blended learning is most appropriate for large scale, planned changes. It’s also best placed for changes that impact on bigger groups of employees as it can take more time to create.

As examples, the below would work well for a blended approach:

  • Changing to a new IT system
  • Procedural changes that impact ways of working or a employees requiring a new skill-set
  • Any other large scale change

Once you’ve identified a learning intervention that blended learning can support. Work closely with your stakeholders to understand the requirement by asking consulting questions.

Creating content and delivering the learning

Once you’re crystal clear that blended learning is the right approach you can start looking to create content.

What to include will depend entirely on the scope of your project, as agreed with your stakeholders and how fast-faced the change will be.

Going back to our IT system example from the introduction. Some things you may include in the blend for this type of learning are:

Digital learning

Online learning includes many methods such as video, e-learning, gamification, mobile learning, micro-learning or access to a test system.

In the IT example, you could use a number of these, such as a video outlining the basics of the new IT system. They would complete this in advance of attending any face to face learning so you can jump straight into more detailed learning. This removes face to face time being used up on basic knowledge and understanding that can be found online.

Face to face

Focus the face to face time on building the skill. For the IT system its likely you’d want them to have some practice time on sandbox system with test data. Make sure there is time factored in for learners to ask questions too.

As mentioned earlier, use some time to understand any barriers to implementing the change or any resistance – if any are found remove these barriers quickly post learning.

Job aids to help transfer the learning into the workplace

Job aids come in many forms, such as; policies and procedures, standard operating procedures, flowcharts or guidance notes. Use whichever is most suitable for your project. In terms of the IT example, you will likely want a number of the above, if not all.

Job aids can sometimes be an afterthought but make sure they aren’t. Create them before the training, not after. So learners have everything they need to start practising back on the job. Don’t make lack of job aids become a barrier to learning being implemented. Add

Focus on the follow up:

Follow up is so important. Your role in learning and development goes beyond the face to face training, work with your stakeholders to ensure that follow up happens and that employees are given space to practice.

Follow up options include:

  • Utilise first line managers – Engage them in the learning process as much as possible. Ask them to include the learning in 1:1’s or team meetings to keep it alive. It could be as simple as asking how are they finding using the new system and what else do they need support-wise? Line managers can either enable or block learning implementation so make sure you get them on board.
  • Communications – Use communications to keep the learning alive. You could share system top tips or use the comms as an opportunity to celebrate any successes with an employee case study. Other employees supporting a new system can be a great way to get others on board quicker.
  • Healthy competition – Competition can be a great driver for getting employees on board but only if it’s used in a healthy way. Could you share a leader board of which teams are using the system quickest?

Summary

Blended learning is a powerful, yet sometimes underrated approach to learning.

By scoping well, using a blend of learning interventions and focusing on the follow up. You can support your business to implement technological change, fast.

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