A few weeks ago we started our journey to better understand how do we implement Blended Learning, which are the components required and the abilities and capabilities to incorporate to your language school business. We also identified the main roadblocks and saw the way to overcome them.
Today I’d like to address the third part of “The e-Learning Guild” survey referred to the question: “If you use Blended Learning, which of the following apply to your experience with it?” Opinions shared here will guide us to identify why we should implement BL at your language business.
Responses were as follows:
70% or more of participants responded:
- More effective than classroom training alone
- Higher learner value/impact; effectiveness greater than for non-blended program
- Learners like it
Around 50% believed that “It takes longer to develop than a non blended program
Around 40% believed that:
- Learners are no even aware they are participating in Blended
- It is more difficult to administer a BL program
Almost 30% considered there was “high return on investment”
Please bear with me for a moment while I address each of the findings.
Last year I run a webinar on “How to run Virtual Classes applied to languages”. Together with some guest experienced teachers (Tom Dillon and Carmen Suils) we analyzed skill by skill acquired by a student when receiving lessons. We concluded that “Traditional language teaching methods need improvement to be more effective” and the way to do it is by getting help from technology.
Why is that? Basically because computers are tireless and accurate. And they may emulate teachers in a good portion of activities and skills. But don’t get me wrong; I am not replacing teachers at all, I am trying to raise the value of teacher’s time. Teacher driven sessions need to be memorable to students and you get this by empowering the student, letting them to self study with success, that way all repetitive activities are performed with the help of the computer and teacher exposure happens into creative sessions.
- Help students to repeat exercises hundreds of times if required.
- Report works done accurately and enable automatic feedback and progress tracking.
Additionally computers and their associated communications infrastructure will bring 100% flexibility in terms of access. With today’s cloud computing and social media, students and teachers will be in permanent connection bringing unimaginable networking capabilities to make language learning a great human being experience.
If you complement all this with rich practice and flipped classroom sessions driven by creative teachers, either face to face or in virtual format, you’ll observe that students progress three or four times faster than in traditional approaches, and you will engage them for years until they master the level of the language they want to learn.
So I completely agree with the first group of items chosen by more than 70% of the surveyed people. I am sure that today’s ratings would even reach a higher figure.
I agree with the statement where 50% of surveyed participants claimed that BL content development takes longer than non BL. It takes longer the same as writing a book takes longer than a letter, or just this post. Why? Because, quality is higher by far. But we have to accept that today’s content development tools are much more user friendly, easier to use and richer in features; which results in higher quality resulting content and faster development cycle.
Key to mention here is that when you develop BL content, you also create assets for your company that will:
- differentiate you from competition,
- level your teaching methods across all teachers in your organization,
- protect your business from non expert teachers,
- engage professional teachers as they will find an easier to use teaching organization.
Again, be cautious with the Content Development and Authoring tool you chose. Customer support is key to decide. We in Adhoc Language try to differentiate from competition by the customer support we offer to our clients.
Now I would like to address the last few answers scoring from 30 to 40%.
If “Learners are no even aware they are participating in Blended“ means that the program was not properly built.
Same with the point about higher difficulties to administer a BL program. Technology has evolved dramatically and today’s campuses administration based on LMS is very friendly and automated. There are plenty of tools, plug-ins and gadgets that will make your life very easy, for school managers, teachers and students. Although related to data quality, we must not forget that “garbage in” makes “garbage out”.
And finally I’d like to pencil some key ideas regarding ROI (Return on Investment). Although 30% of surveyed people believed “BL provide you a higher ROI”, we have to consider the impact on development cycle due to the higher complexity of development tools at the time of the survey. This complexity has dramatically gone down.
Critical here is to perform an accurate business case upfront, pricing correctly your product and making students to understand the value of what they buy. Consider the following:
- If you price too high, you will probably sell a few licenses or courses.
- If your teachers and e-tutors get a low payment, you will demotivate them and that will impact on the quality of the service delivered. You will sell less than expected in the following course cycle. “Word of mouth” plays a critical role here.
- If you don’t invest any money in a well-tuned online marketing plan to attract suitable students through social networks, you will sell less.
Summary and conclusions
I’d like to finish this overall analysis bringing here the conclusions from previous posts as well to have an overall view:
From the “Roadblocks to BL” post, we learnt that differentiation from competition and adoption of the change are two critical success factors to manage.
From the “Implementation plan for BL” post I’d like to highlight the need of facing your previous decision with a professional behavior, designing a business strategy as part of an implementation plan which should contain actions to incorporate the required content production capabilities to your organization.
And finally from this current post about “Experiences had by BL practitioners” I’d like to highlight the importance of creating a neat business case backed by an online marketing plan.
In the incoming posts we will review all these items with more detail.