Blended Learning – the Future of Workplace Training?

I wonder how many of us were set tasks for the summer holidays as children where we were encouraged to think about the school of the future, or the office of the future, or the… you get the idea… The future was always somewhere that seemed ages away, but usually ended up with a bit of a Star Trek feel to it with amazing gadgets to make our lives so much easier and give us all endless leisure time.  Looking through my old schoolbooks, the future seemed to involve a lot of robots doing things for us, and schools where the students didn’t even have to be there in person…

Fast forward some, several, years later and school has turned in to as much of an idea as an actual building – a whole generation of children are now used to the concept of using their own devices at home to share work with their teachers and friends, of completing tasks online, and of having face to face tutoring electronically.  What was still a relative novelty even when I left teaching some ten years ago, with teachers using video conferencing to hold classes across two or more physical locations, has now become commonplace.  As time moves on, the future looks more and more likely to be a finely-tuned balance of physical interaction and remote learning – often referred to as a blended approach.

Realistically, the same approach has been spreading steadily across many professions and industries over the last ten years, with many professional bodies offering online webinars or training sessions to support their traditional e-learning and offline courses.  It is essential that as professionals we recognise the value of both online and offline training methods and ensure that we develop and maintain skills in using (and delivering) both.

The Development Zone has always been designed to sit at the heart of the training and development programme of organisations and is perfectly placed to support both online and offline elements of training programmes.  We’ve actually been doing this for a long time, through tools such as our CPD recording tool that allows all types of activity to be planned and documented in a single place, or through our custom content tools such as the Offline Task activity type or the Offline Event.  (If you’ve not seen these already, I recommend you have a look in the DevZone Academy and find out more – they are simple to use, but powerful tools that can support your training propositions.)

Following on from the recent updates to refresh the look and feel of the Development Zone, our platform development team have been hard at work overhauling the webinar module (again, available via the Custom Content tools).  We’ve taken the time to learn what works best and rebuild the module around exciting modern technologies to provide a powerful video conferencing tool to support firms using the Development Zone.  The first phase of this work has recently been released on the platform and allows you to host webinars (or meetings or video conferences, whichever term works best for you) with groups of learners from your firm.  It includes a range of features over and above simply sharing audio and video, such as the ability to hold interactive polls, shared notes, screen shares, and much more. 

There’s so much that you can do with the new webinars that we’ve had to produce a new downloadable guide just for webinars to take you through the key features.  We’ve even started to use the webinar module on the Development Zone for our own team meetings!

Whether you feel the future is in dynamic e-learning content from our core catalogue, exciting custom content produced by your own organisation, face to face training (in person or by video), or a truly blended mix of all of these things, the Development Zone is there to support and enable you and your learners. 

Find out more by exploring the DevZone Academy and the range of Downloadable Guides available from the DevZone Help Centre – just click the Support option at the top of any DevZone screen.

About the author

After gaining a degree in Computer Science, Tim spent nine years teaching in a number of secondary schools (11-19 year olds) in Wales.  For the majority of his time teaching, Tim led a highly successful team of teachers delivering vocational ICT qualifications and reached the level of Associate Assistant Headteacher before leaving teaching.  He has also been a senior examiner and moderator for one of the UK's largest awarding bodies.  Since 2013 he has been the senior developer for the Development Zone.

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