Answers to questions we get asked a lot
Blended learning is simply the idea of deploying a variety of learning resources, over time, that appeal to a wide range of learning styles. These days that blend is typically a combination of virtual and self-study digital learning. We're hoping face-to-face opportunities return soon. The key to blending these elements successfully is understanding the audience and ensuring that the most precious and costly time - live/virtual classroom - focuses on the behavioural aspects of the learning objectives.
For example, a ‘New Leader’ programme will necessarily include topics such as ‘performance coaching’, and ‘feedback excellence’ which work best in live or virtual classrooms where staff have an opportunity to interact, share, and learn from each other. In contrast, while just as important, the systems and technical training aspects of the role can and should be done in a self-led digital environment. This asynchronous format provides great flexibility for each learner and reduces the cost burden on the business - all without affecting the quality of the learning itself.
Another important aspect of the blended approach is to facilitate ‘continuous learning’ opportunities. Truly transformative learning doesn’t happen in a classroom, it happens over time, in real life, and through a variety of experiences and development opportunities. Blended learning provides this multi-touch continuous learning environment by breaking the learning down into bite-size phased deliveries that might last 12 months or longer.
In fact, the blend of modalities itself is often the most important factor when considering a large-scale deployment. These projects often include thousands of learners across multiple geographies, timezones, and cultures - without the ability to leverage effective virtual and asynchronous options, it would be impossible to provide a consistent learning experience to this audience. And that leads us to the final aspect of Hemsley Fraser’s blended learning approach - consistency of experience. It’s crucial that learners in satellite offices without critical mass for a classroom event have an equitable and consistent experience with those folks in head office where classroom sessions are common. When building our blended programmes with our clients we make sure that each component of the blended experience is as rich and informative as any other, and that the messaging and tone of voice is consistent throughout.
From our perspective, this is an easy one! Learning Management Systems perform a crucial and valuable role in any learning ecosystem. Chiefly, they track, maintain, and record learners’ consumption, comprehension, and completion of pre-determined learning events. And of course, they serve as a system of record and audit for that learning. When considering mandatory learning such as technical, compliance, CoC, etc this functionality is vitality important but it comes at a cost. While folks know they have to consume and understand this non-elective learning, they often don’t enjoy it - and enjoy navigating the complex LMS landscape even less! They’re often unintuitive, unattractive, and overly complex and make accessing and consuming learning almost a chore. In fact, the LMS is often seen as more of a hurdle to learning than a platform.
This issue is bad enough for essential, non-elective learning - for elective non-essential learning, it’s much worse and usually enough to limit organisational engagement percentages to single digits. In other words, an LMS is often the worst system through which to deploy and promote soft-skills, career development learning.
On the other hand, a true learning engagement/experience platform is designed to entice, encourage, and excite folks to consume learning content. They’re built to be intuitive, with no need for instructions or user-guides. And deployed well, they provide contextualised, relevant, and customised content - from multiple sources in a ‘one-stop-shop’ learning ecosystem. The Fosway Group defines these platforms as Learning Experience Platforms (LXPs) and Next-Generation Learning Environments (NGLEs). Hemsley Fraser’s NGLE focuses on the learner experience and truly agile content provision.
The obvious analogy in our non-working lives is the experience we have in Netflix, Spotify, or Amazon compared to the experience we might have on government websites, applying for a new passport or completing tax returns - one group is fun, enjoyable, and popular, the other less so! Formal learning experiences should be thought of in the same way; if you want your learners engaged and enthused think about an engagement platform to run alongside your LMS.
Employee engagement is always improved when your staff have ready access to helpful, transformative learning opportunities. However, providing that access, in a way that makes sense to learners, is increasingly difficult - we live in a world of immediate access to almost any question we need an answer to and unless formal learning mirrors this ‘on-demand’ cultural norm, it’s feels outdated, even unhelpful.
We know that learning has to happen in the flow of work, not against it. Unless learning opportunities fit seamlessly into normal working life, it’s unlikely that they’ll be taken. A need for learning is often prompted by something situational and organisations benefit greatly from being able to provide just-in-time, on-the-job access to quality learning assets. This understanding gave rise to HF’s three tenets of learning engagement: context, relevancy, accessibility.
Our Hub learning ecosystem provides always-on access to thousands of learning assets but with a special focus on the three tenets:
- Context - playlisting allows us to blend our core learning content, with your own organisational learning, and third-party content to give a properly contextualised , holistic learning experience.
- Relevancy - an agile knowledge-management and rapid-push feature means that you can keep topical content in front of your learners at all times.
- Accessibility - with multiple content modalities such as e-books, articles, videos, podcasts and more, your learners will always have access to the right learning at the right time.
Can my solution be branded?
In short. Yes!
And it’s often a really good idea. Branding is a key driver of employee engagement with a learning solution. Done properly it can create a sense of belonging and excitement that can transform the mundane into a more personal experience. If employees feel disconnected to the solution, even in a visual way, they will have a harder time connecting the learning to their everyday working lives. Make the solution feel like ‘you’ and it stands a much better chance of being successful.
And branding doesn’t have to expensive - there’s a whole range of options and services that will help your solution resonate no matter your budget.
What's the relationship between organisational development, talent management & learning?
Most successful organisations view these concepts as symbiotic - unique in their own right, but in concert forming the backbone of human-capital excellence.
Organisational development (OD) is most often the strategic leader of the three concepts - a mature OD plan will include direction and guidance for the talent management strategy and attendant learning opportunities. And while the business development and operational strategies focus respectively on the revenue creation and cost-control, so the OD strategy focuses on how a business will best leverage, manage, and grow its human capital resources.
Talent management takes direction from the OD plan and represents the operational management of human capital. It drives and informs decisions regarding the acquisition, development, and retention of FTEs, contract, and support workers. Many organisations focus their talent management activities on developing future managers/leaders and high-potential employees, demonstrating even more strongly the need to integrate OD insight.
Learning is often the crescendo of this concert and serves to support the talent management strategy with employee development opportunities. At their best, learning programmes tend to be deployed at the organisational level - as an extension of the OD strategy - with careful and deliberate functional and regional nuance that serves a ‘think global - act local’ approach of customisation with consistency. And learning is often the final piece of the puzzle; even with a well-executed organisational development strategy, coupled with careful talent management, certain behavioural and skills gaps can remain - your learning strategy should aim to fill those gaps.
Outsourcing all or part of the learning function can help organisations deliver cost savings, improve quality, and drive innovation. While cost-reduction is often the spark in considering outsourcing, those savings are only half of the challenge. Just as important are the improvements that can be bought from a dedicated 3rd party function whose sole focus is improving quality, availability, and ROI from your training dollars.
Read the full 'Outsource training to enhance your business performance' article here.
How fast can a solution be deployed?
Learning solutions can often be deployed in a matter of weeks, especially those that leverage HF's Core learning content. We pride ourselves on our rapid response and will work hard to meet even the most challenging of client deadlines, without sacrificing quality. Some examples include:
- HF Hub (online learning platform) - can be set up and deployed in a week!
- HF learning content - instantly available to all Hub customers over 4000 digital learning assets, all configurable for on-demand learning, or to form the core of blended, 'excite, engage, embed' solution
- Client content integration - can be deep-linked into your Hub within 2-4 weeks of deployment. Additional customisation options are available for in-the-moment design changes
- Client branding - can be applied to your Hub within a week
- SSO/LMS integration - typically within 30 days based on specific requirements
- Training outsourcing - typically 30-60 days in research & engagement phase, with client transitions within 90 days -- expedited cut-overs possible depending on complexity
Our mantra, 'be ready for tomorrow' guides our approach -- we are practical and look for the most efficient way to bring value to your experience. We typically find that an HF solution can be deployed in the same time frame that other L&D providers would still be negotiating terms and conditions on your contract.
Don't believe us? We'll line up some clients for you to talk to...
One of our prospective clients actually said to us once -- 'if you can really do all of this, why haven't we heard of you?'. Thankfully this prospect has been one of our largest and most successful clients for the past 3 years. They know who we are now!
Hemsley Fraser has been in business for almost 30 years. We started out in the UK and have steadily grown through Europe and for the last 10 years to US too. If it gives you any comfort:
- Over 30% of the Fortune 500 have heard of us, and have used us as their L&D provider at some point
- Some of our largest clients have been with us for 10-15 years
- We've been named one of the Top 20 training providers in the world (trainingindustry.com) for the past 10 years, across multiple categories. One of the few, if not only, training provider to have this designation over such a consecutive period
- In 2018, we were named as the 3rd largest distance learning provider in the UK, and the 6th fastest growing
There's, of course, another simple explanation. You can't pronounce or spell our name. Feel free to just say HF :)