Using an LMS to Support Blended Learning

Generally an LMS can break down its capability for managing learning as::

  1. Delivery options
  2. Delivery structures

Delivery options are easy, you just need the LMS to be capable of managing different learning types in your blended program(s). The two primary interventions are generally face to face workshps and eLearning content, but blended programs go beyond these to include downloadable content (documents, media, files), on the job assessments, document viewed and verified and also social tools.

Delivery structures are a little more complex, they assign the right training to the right people at the right time. This is simple if everyone gets the same number of courses all in one big dump when they first start, but the beauty of a great blended course is the discovery aspect, the way the overall course unfolds as the learner progresses through. Birch Learning Platform manages the distribution of program elements by allowing the elements to be grouped together into Goals and structured in the order of delivery.  Each element can also have criteria that needs to have been met in order for it to become active.

Here is an example:

Course ElementCourse typeCompletion CriteriaActivation CriteriaDisplay Criteria
OverviewDownloadable PDFNAActivated at the commencement of the learningDisplayed permanently
Online CourseeLearningView all screensActivated at the commencement of the learningDisplayed permanently
Face to Face workshopFace to FaceInstructor sign offActivated only after the Overview eLearning is completeDisplayed permanently
Online assessmenteLearning90% pass markActivate 30 days after the Face to Face workshopDisplayed after completion of previous element
On the Job AssessmentSupervisor EvidenceObservational AssessmentActivate after passing the Online assessmentDisplayed after completion of previous element
RefresherVideoCompletion of videoActivate 3 months after passing the on the job assessmentDisplayed after completion of previous element

Birch is able to use both the course structures and the dynamic user structures to deliver a user specific set of learning elements as reflected in the blended program plan.

Given that the above learning outline contains both date based and learner driven criteria, Birch also has a comprehensive notification system to allow learners, managers and administrators to keep up with requirements as they arise and require attention.

The final big piece of the blended learning puzzle from an LMS perspective is reporting.  Reporting at a high level obviously allows both administrators, instructors and management to obtain an overview of the program. Who is enrolled, how far they have progressed, what has been completed and what needs to be completed. Taking the reporting a step further however allows us to start to review and improve the content and the delivery of the overall blended program. Reports can be run that encompass such things as:

  • Post face to face survey results
    • How is the instructor performing
    • Is the content relevant
    • Were the elements that led up to the face to face comprehensive enough (Or too comprehensive)
  • Online assessment question level tracking
    • Why does everyone get question 10 wrong, has it been worded poorly
    • Are the questions to easy or too hard
    • Do they test the right knowledge
  • Time taken to complete the program
    • Is the program too long
    • Are people failing to finish
  • Learner based comparison
    • People in Group A are doing better at the case studies than the people in Group B, why is that so what are the differences between the groups are the case studies not generic enough

Opening up the world of reporting beyond just pass and fail statistics provides a wonderful window into how and why our programs are poor, average or great. A great program is one that can be adjusted based on ongoing observation.

Our learning platform enables this level of reporting by going beyond the standard reports provided in most LMS’s and adding to the ability for Managers to interact directly with the report and drill down on the report for further information.

Blended learning is a wonderful and powerful method to educate our audience and the proper planning of our program is of the utmost importance but we can also see now that the actual delivery of the program can also make or break the user experience.