Businesses weigh the effectiveness of training against costs. Mastery of training is often measured in terms of the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy. This taxonomy defines the levels of learning as remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating and creating. The costs associated with corporate training include the development and delivery of training, as well as time off the job.
Instructor-led training is often seen as the best approach to training to meet all the levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Instructor-led training is also the most expensive to deliver, and requires the most amount of time off the job. As companies cut training budgets the use of instructor-led courses usually decline.
Computer based and online training are solutions based upon the principles of program instruction. Content is presented and then every several screens a question is asked and a correct answer is required before the participant can continue. Assessments are provided to show mastery of learning objectives. As the training is delivered on a computer, the delivery and time off the job costs are reduced. Properly developed computer based and online training courses not only reduce costs, but also provide the participant with the ability to master the higher levels Bloom’s Taxonomy.
Community or social learning interactive websites allow members to post articles for review and seek answers to questions. Companies can provide develop interactive websites where a Subject Matter Experts (SME) monitors and answers questions for employees and customers. While these sites allow the ability to address the higher levels on Bloom’s Taxonomy, the informal structure of content and ad hoc learning process provides limited structure, quality control, and accountability.
Webinars allow SME to conduct live online meeting during which in-depth information is dispensed. The SME do not necessarily know the participants or levels of their skills and knowledge. A typical webinar sequence includes an introduction, review of basic information, presentation of new ideas, question and answer session. Webinars are often presented on a limited schedule and for a limited length of time. The session may be recoded and posted online for those that could not attend. A webinar’s ability to consistently increase the levels of learning on the Bloom Taxonomy is questionable. While costs are reduced so is accountability.
Using a combined approach including online training, community or social learning and webinars can provide participants’ with training that is effective as instructor-led training with the reduced delivery costs and time off the job savings. We called this combined approach
STRUCTURED INSTRUCTOR MENTORED BLENDED LEARNING (S.I.M.B.L.)™
Factual information to be mastered at the remembering, understanding, and occasionally applying levels, are covered using online learning. Participants’ mastery is demonstrated using online assessments.
Forums are used for continuing mastery at the applying level and initial levels of analyzing, evaluating and creating.
Live webinars are used to continue the growth process. Assessment results and forum posts are provided to the webinar host. This helps to establish the skills and knowledge level of the participants’ allowing the host to address the high levels of learning. This allows the webinar SME to address the specific needs of participants’ at the higher Bloom’s Taxonomy levels of applying, analyzing, evaluating and creating
As this process is not tied to time off the job and classroom availability, the pacing and scheduling allows for flexibility. The instructor becomes a mentor. The length of the program is determined upon the participants’ needs. A sample program schedule is presented below.
- At the beginning of the course, the mentor conducts a live webinar – 5 to 15 minutes
- Each week, participants are assigned – 45 to 90 minutes:
- Self-directed learning lesson(s)
- Exercises, which are completed individually and then reviewed using social forums
- End of lesson individual and group exercises, which are reviewed by the mentor
- At the end of the week, the mentor conducts a live webinar to review the case studies and answer participants’ questions – 30 to 60 minutes
This process is repeated during the mentoring program. Participants are provided extended support to implement what they have learned in training onto their job. During this process, the role of instructor expands to include mentoring.
Advantages of this methodology include:
- Limits time off the job
- Balances work and learning time
- Longer time to incorporate what is learned on the job
- Incorporates real-world experience
- Provides high level of learning on Bloom’s Taxonomy
The measurement of success for these programs is based upon the participants’ job performance.
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