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The Role of Blended Learning in the World of Technology

By Cathy Gonzalez, EIS Training/Computing Administration Manager

Implementing an enterprise-wide system the magnitude of EIS requires a learning solution that meets the needs of an extremely diverse audience. Technology is placing unique requirements on people in the workplace, compelling a sharp focus on training and education. One of the most persuasive factors is the shrinking half-life of knowledge. The “half-life of knowledge” is the time span from when knowledge is gained to when it becomes obsolete. Half of what is known today was not known 10 years ago. The amount of knowledge in the world has doubled in the past 10 years and is doubling every 18 months according to the American Society of Training and Documentation (ASTD). To combat the shrinking half-life of knowledge, organizations have been forced to develop new methods of deploying instruction.

Academic institutions, such as UNTS, have progressively been adopting new methods through the use of distance learning solutions. Organizations facing massive technological changes have also had to rethink methods of delivering training.  An effective option is found in blended learning programs that deliver e-learning and instructor-led training. Many academic areas are discovering this to be a good solution also to traditional college teaching. With a blended learning approach, an organization utilizes e-learning and instructor-led training to address the diverse learning needs of all its trainees on a 24/7 basis.

Why does this approach work particularly well for training related to new technology?  A truly enterprise-wide approach to education combines the best aspects of on-line education with the best of instructor-led training. One example is teaching basic fundamentals with e-learning and then teaching advanced skills in the classroom.

Application has been made of this approach for EIS. An Introduction to EIS course is available to all UNTS faculty and staff via WebCT (during the first month it was available, 66 persons completed the training). The course was first offered as instructor-led and normally took 3 hours to complete. The WebCT version can be completed in approximately 30 minutes in most cases. The instructor-led version required trainees to physically come to a training room, loosing at least a minimum of 4 hours productivity time. The WebCT version allows access 24/7 from anywhere there is an internet connection. Trainees then go on to take more advanced courses, such as TimeKeeper or Student Records training, in the classroom where live interaction with an expert on the topic is needed for a successful learning experience.

A blended learning approach means that face-to-face learning becomes more effective because the mundane aspects of basic instruction are moved to an e-learning environment, which can be more engaging and interactive. It also means that an organization can have a common on-line orientation program for any number of trainees at any time, allowing all trainees to have the same basic knowledge of concepts, vocabulary, and terminology. When trainees do meet in the classroom with an instructor, the face-to-face class can now focus on higher-level skills since the basics are known by all trainees and were tested by the e-learning orientation module.  Instructor-led sessions can now focus on knowledge transfer and behavioral changes and not simply the memorization of acronyms or application-specific jargon.

The challenge of meeting the training and documentation needs of EIS continue and many learning events still need to take place. Through the consolidated efforts of many people associated with the implementation of EIS, the numbers that reflect the amount of training that has already occurred are staggering.  These numbers tell me that UNTS has demonstrated a commitment in education excellence not only for students but also for their employees who are working hard and using EIS to serve the institution. 

Interested in seeing training statistics?  View the current EIS Training Summary here.

 

 

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