Blended Virtual Learning that Works | Maher & Maher
Maher & Maher, an IMPAQ Company - Investment Advisors for Talent Development.
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Blended Virtual Learning that Works

A Little Background

Maher has worked with a mix of clients to move lengthy in-person classroom training (what we refer to as instructor-led training, or ILT) to a blended virtual instructor-led delivery format, or VILT. This allows clients to expand course offerings to a wider audience and eliminates the cost of meeting rooms and other logistics, such as travel, for both facilitators and participants. While controlling costs is an important consideration, this approach also presents significant learning benefits for participants:

  • A cohort model allows learners to study together over a set time period and connect in ways that extend beyond the initial learning experience.
  • Blended formats are convenient and allow for an expanded cohort of participants. This broadens the depth of peer expertise shared during the course. Peer learning allows colleagues across the nation or around the globe to collaborate or problem-solve in new ways.
  • VILTs are brief and flexibly scheduled,  and they use tools that are commonly utilized in the workplace (e.g. Zoom, Adobe Connect, WebEx).
  • Asynchronous learning content is available to learners 24/7. Learning is brought directly to participants and can take place anywhere and at any time.
  • Online discussions and activities are documented in the online environment, capturing the shared knowledge and expertise of learners, allowing facilitators to confirm understanding and peers to quickly catch up on missed work. Classroom activities can often be replicated or creatively improved upon using online formats.
  • Participants can engage with managers of mentors by incorporating touchpoints as a part of the learning experience.

People learn better by sharing, collaborating, and accessing available online resources when it is most convenient for them.  Such an approach also leverages time, which allows learners to apply learning on the job and report back to their peer group and facilitator on their progress. Here’s an example of how it works.

How It Works

We have used this approach with several clients ranging from sales to senior leadership.  We recently mapped out a blended virtual transition strategy for one of our Financial Services clients moving from a multi-day in-person training to a fully immersive online blended peer cohort style experience. 

In order to achieve the most successful outcome for this endeavor, we first observed the “current state” of the training by attending an in-person session.  This allowed us to observe the experience firsthand, be clear on the content delivery in an ILT format, hear from participants, and capture, in our mind, options for transitioning the ILT to an online virtual delivery.  

The ILT was primarily informational with some activities, and it was followed by a project where learning was applied.  For the virtual delivery or “future state,” we shifted to a project-centered approach to be implemented over several months. Participants will learn and progress through a project as a cohort while concurrently learning from subject matter experts (SMEs), collaborating with peers and getting input from managers.  Virtual instructor-led sessions will be conducted biweekly over four months. Online learning content will include video presentations by SMEs, comprising examples and sharing that leverages storytelling, interactive online discussions, project-based application activities with facilitator and peer reviews, and a final assessment. 

The course will be piloted with a small group in Fall, 2019 to capture feedback and identify any refinements before we open it up to a broader population.  We’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

If you have interest in converting your in-person classes to an engaging virtual format, reach out to one of Maher’s learning experts at 732-918-8000 or our website to set up an exploratory call.

Maher & Maher is a specialized change management and talent development consulting firm based in Neptune, NJ and in Washington, D.C. The Firm’s Private Sector Practice specializes in customized learning design and delivery for the Deathcare, Financial Services, Life Sciences, and Media & Communications industries, and partners with our peers to do the same for government clientele. For more information about our services, visit our website or call us at 1-888-90-MAHER.

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