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Home > News > February 2003 > 27-Feb-2003

Blended learning can significantly increase employee productivity, says study

NETg, part of The Thomson Corporation, today announced that phase two of the Thomson Job Impact Study, The Next Generation of Corporate Learning, further reinforces that a blended learning programme incorporating a combination of e-learning, online instruction, simulations, texts, mentor/instructor support and live classroom-based training has the power to significantly increase employee productivity.

NETg says the Thomson Job Impact Study will now takes the next step of pinpointing the critical components necessary to achieve a successful blended learning approach.

The study was developed in collaboration with corporate organisations and academic institutions including Lockheed-Martin; NCR; Utah State University; University of Limerick, Ireland; Anoka-Ramsey Community College, Minnesota; Executive Service Corps of Chicago; and KnowledgePool.

The first phase of the study, released last year, aimed to determine if there were significant differences in the accuracy and time it took learners to perform real-world tasks after using blended learning training approaches, e-Learning training programs or no training at all.

According to the results from phase one of the research, a structured curriculum of blended learning generated a 30 percent increase in accuracy of performance and a 41 percent increase in speed of performance over single-delivery options.

The second phase of the study sought to identify the essential instructional components of a successful blended learning solution.

The researchers studied five separate groups of learners to compare e-learning with three different types of blended learning solutions: instructor-led training, text-based programs and scenario-based exercises.

The instructor-led training (ILT Blend) group received blended learning driven by scenario-based exercises (SBEs) within the context of an instructor-led course. The text blend group received SBEs that included access to text objects. The scenario-based exercise (SBE Blend) group received SBEs that included access to NETg Learning Objects (NLOs). The e-learning group received a standard e-learning course. The control group was established to benchmark performance and did not receive any training. All of the groups completed a post-assessment and three real-world tasks.

NETg says, as in phase one of the study, the new results also confirm that a defined blended learning solution heightens overall on-the-job performance achieved by e-learning alone and that either blended or single-delivery models are more effective than no training at all.

When compared with the group that received no training, the research found the e-learning group to have a 99 percent increase in on-the-job accuracy; ILT Blend achieved 163 percent increase in accuracy; Text Blend demonstrated a 153 percent increase in accuracy; and the SBE Blend showed an 159 percent increase in accuracy. When compared with the e-Learning group, the blended learning groups were 27 percent to 32 percent more accurate in task performance and performed the tasks 41 percent to 51 percent faster.

NETg says the overall analysis further reveals that a well-defined blended learning approach results in greater workforce productivity.

According to NETg, 'The Thomson Job Impact Study, in search of the optimal blended learning model', provides insight on which components of a blended learning model appear to be essential for success and which components may be interchangeable.

The study found the three blended learning groups performed nearly identically, leading NETg to the conclusion that the components common to the three groups represent the essential components of a successful blended learning model. The three core instructional features include: the use of scenario-based exercises as the basis for learning software; actual experience using the software; and authentic assessments designed to parallel real-world tasks.

NETg says other instructional components of the blended learning models appear to be interchangeable; having demonstrated similar levels of effectiveness. According to NETg, this finding gives the user flexibility to select learning tools based on availability, budget or other business needs. These interchangeable components include integrating live instruction, introducing text objects or electronic learning objects within real-world scenarios and providing real-time access to mentors during training.

"Building courseware and providing learning services that meet the needs of the individual learner is at the core of the NETg business," stated Joe Dougherty, president of NETg.

"The Job Impact Study validates the effectiveness of a blended approach to training. In the final analysis, the focus is on providing not only e-Learning courses, but on supporting the learner with a variety of instructional tools and solutions to ensure that the training experience delivers measurable job performance improvements that are aligned with the strategic objectives of the business."

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