ShareKnowledge Blog

How to create a successful blended learning program in SharePoint

Amber Rasmussen October, 2014
blended learning

Learning requirements are different for every learner, so many organizations have embraced a blended learning approach in order to get the right content in the right format to the right people at the right time. What is blended learning? Generally, it is a mix of media and methods including instructor-led training, online training, self-paced study and on the job training.

Learning is not a one-time event but a continuous process. Blended learning provides many benefits over a single learning delivery and that is why more and more organizations have turned to this method.

Blended learning programs extend the reach of your training. A physical classroom limits access for some learners to only those that can make a particular date and time. A virtual classroom is inclusive of remote audiences and can extend the reach of those that could not attend. Blended learning also optimizes the cost of development and time. By combining different methods, it balances out the cost of deployment and time. Studies have also been done by Stanford University that demonstrate how blended learning is by far better than both traditional and individual forms of e-learning technology alone.

The power is in a blended Learning equation: Face-to-Face + Synchronous Conversations + Asynchronous Interactions = Strong Online Learning Environment.

Some common ways that blended learning is used:

  • Blended offline and online learningThis is a learning program where training material and research resources are provided over the Web in addition to instructor-led classroom training sessions.
     
  • Blended self-paced and collaborative learningThis is an example of providing important literature on a regulatory change or new product for example, followed by a moderated, live, online, peer-to-peer discussion of the material.
     
  • Blended structured and unstructured learning. Most learning in the workplace comes from unstructured means such as meetings, hallway conversations or email. A blended learning program design may look to actively capture conversations and documents from unstructured learning events into knowledge repositories available on demand, supporting the way workers collaborate and work.

Kineo, a leading consultant in learning and technology, conducted a survey recently which found that the top forms of training for blended learning used by organizations included self-paced e-learning, virtual classrooms, project-based learning, social learning and face-to-face learning. And, most used on average of 4-5 learning methods in their training mix. The most common benefit they experienced was productivity improvements, increased sales, more consistent adherence to standard procedures and greater management skills.

Blended learning in SharePoint is simple and effective. The following will explain how to utilize SharePoint in the best way to enhance your blended learning goals.

Uploading training material to SharePoint HR Portal
SharePoint excels as a content management system so this would be a great use for uploading training material. Trainers can even create a class site that houses all documents, videos, calendars, etc. With SharePoint permission settings, it is even possible to ensure the info is available to class attendees only.

Workflows in SharePoint are especially useful for trainers. Often times, there are several people involved in creating a training document. With workflows, everybody is able to work from one document and even look back at previous versions.

Collaborative learning - working together as part of a team 

According to Kineo, project-based learning is one of the most popular forms of blended learning. SharePoint team sites make intradepartmental collaboration and information-sharing as easy as pie. Upload content, create task lists for team members, use blogs or wikis to share information, gather input with discussions or surveys and create a team calendar. SharePoint can even be synced with Microsoft Project. By doing so, you can make changes in Project and then discuss with your team in SharePoint.

Unstructured learning is enhanced with SharePoint
Like mentioned earlier, much of what is learned in the workplace is via social learning. SharePoint offers a host of social tools that make learning in this method easier than ever.

Community sites give the user a forum experience which is intended to cultivate discussions with a broad group of people across an organization. Community Sites promote open communication and information exchange by fostering discussions among users who share their expertise and use expertise of others who have knowledge in specific areas of interest.

MySites are another great social feature of SharePoint. They are essentially personal profiles that provide a central place for users to store personal and shared documents, promote their user information and expertise, tag content, and communicate with others by using the note board. Through people search, users can connect with one another and benefit from expertise of others in their organization. My Sites also contain a microblog and newsfeed feature. These features allow users to engage in short, public conversations and keep up-to-date on activities from content and people in which they are interested.

SharePoint is a great tool for trainers who want to implement blended learning, however it is not designed to do everything. Combining an LMS that is built on SharePoint complements learner needs and gives a complete training solution. For more information on how CorVel implemented SharePoint with ShareKnowledge, please download our free white paper.

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