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Home > News > November 2004 > 18-Nov-2004

Survey predicts transatlantic increase in blended learning

UK and US organisations plan to reduce the time that training delegates spend away from the workplace by almost doubling their use of blended learning over the next two years, according to a new study from Balance Learning and Training Magazine.

The survey questioned 286 HR professionals and line managers from UK and North American organisations. The results show that 13% of all organisational training is currently delivered via blended learning - a figure predicted to rise to 19% in 2005, reaching 24% in 2006.

Respondents in the US ranked blended learning as the most effective and the most efficient form of training. In the UK, blended learning ranks as the fourth most effective training approach - behind instructor led-training, on-the-job training and coaching - and the third most efficient training method, behind on-the-job training and coaching.

"Blended learning is a key growth area for training." said Chris Horseman, Managing Director of Balance Learning. "Organisational culture in the US has allowed trainers and HR professionals more freedom to try out new training strategies. This has resulted in their development of a greater level of experience in the use of blended learning, enabling them to reap its benefits - both in terms of efficiency and effectiveness - ahead of their UK counterparts."

77% of those surveyed from North American companies currently use blended learning compared to only 55% from UK organisations. In the UK, 67% of these organisations use blended learning for management and leadership training (44% in US); 41% use it for customer service and sales training (46% in US) and 52% use it for interpersonal skills training (40% in US).

Of the organisations surveyed, 67% say they are looking to reduce participant time away from the workplace by up to 50%.

"In 91% of cases, participant time away from the workplace is the biggest consideration for organisations when they are developing a new training solution," said Chris Horseman. "Other factors include how the learning will be transferred back to the workplace, trainer time commitment, the level of support required from each participant’s line manager, the delivery time frames and logistics."

Less than two thirds of the respondents (64%) said that the cost-per-participant was a key factor when developing a training solution. In the UK, the average daily participant cost for a training course is £220, whereas in North America it is the dollar-equivalent of £147, perhaps because of the greater prevalence of blended learning.

The survey shows that blended learning programmes typically comprise instructor-led training, custom e-learning courses, workbooks, and other print-based materials, and workplace assignments.

It claims that the increased use of blended learning will be accompanied by a reduction in pure instructor-led training, which currently accounts for nearly half of all training in the organisations surveyed. The survey shows a predicted fall in this figure to 42% in 2005 and to 38% in 2006.

To create blended learning programmes, 52% of organisations surveyed are combining existing training resources; 41% are developing new purpose-built/customised blended programmes in-house; 27% are developing new purpose-built/customised programmes with external providers and 12% are purchasing off-the-shelf blended learning programmes.

Organisational culture is perceived as the biggest challenge to the implementation of blended learning, across both sides of the Atlantic, followed by inadequate line management support and lack of senior management support.

The survey also shows that organisations are using a range of technology-based training systems/resources in their training strategy. Technology is used as part of a blended learning programme; for standalone self-study; to administer the training process and to measure training effectiveness. 49% of North American respondents use a learning management system (LMS), whereas in the UK the figure is only 25%. 46% of UK respondents and 49% those in North America use the Internet is used as part of their training.

Responsibility for putting training into practice currently lies with the HR/training department (in 72% of surveyed organisations), line managers (62%) and with the participants themselves (51%). In the UK, 72% of line managers help with the transfer of learning to the workplace, which compares to only 53% in North America.

Respondents in the UK (92%) and the US (81%) are both keen to see line managers taking even more responsibility for the transfer of learning to the workplace.

"The role of HR in the transfer of learning is becoming more strategic," said Chris Horseman. "Organisations appear keen to focus the onus of learning transfer onto line managers and to the participants themselves."

The survey found that although blended learning is currently used to deliver 13% of organisational training, in the UK and the US it only accounts for 11% of training budgets. In 2006, when blended learning is forecast to deliver 24% of training outputs, it will only account for 18% of budget spend.
External links

The full survey - entitled ‘The Transatlantic Blended Learning Survey 2004’ - is available from Balance Learning, priced £25. Call 0845 456 0465 or e-mail info@balancelearning.co.uk.

Weblink: http://www.balancelearning.co.uk

About the survey

The survey was conducted via a questionnaire, between July and August 2004. The survey sample comprised HR and training specialists from diverse organisations including finance, legal, services, education, construction, engineering and industrial sectors.

118 questionnaires were completed by UK organisations; 150 were from North America. The remainder originated from continental Europe (6), the Middle East and Africa (3) and Australasia (9).

The survey is supported by Training magazine and Venture Marketing (organisers of WOLCE) in the UK and by Training & Development Magazine in the US.

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