Life by Design

Consider This Scenario

Posted on: October 26, 2010

A training manager has been frustrated with the quality of communication among trainees in his face-to-face training sessions and wants to try something new.  With his supervisor’s permission, the trainer plans to convert all current training modules to a blended learning format, which would provide trainees and trainers the opportunity to interact with each other and learn the material in both a face-to-face and online environment.  In addition, he is considering putting all his training materials on a server so that the trainees have access to resources and assignments at all times.

With this scenario in mind, reflect on the following:

What are some of the pre-planning strategies the trainer needs to consider before converting his program?

What aspects of his original training program could be enhanced in the distance learning format?

How will his role, as trainer, change in a distance learning environment?

What steps should the trainer take to encourage the trainees to communicate online?


Converting to a Distance Learning Format

Best Practices Guide for a Blended Learning Format


Pre-planning strategies a trainer should follow before converting a classroom program to a blended learning format:


  • Assess whether or not the learners can embrace the new delivery system.
  • Are there sufficient resources for computers and technology in the budget?
  • How will the online courses be made engaging?
  • How will the facilitator use multimedia resources?
  • How will he decide what the learners need to learn?
  • What part of the course will be delivered face to face and what part will be delivered online?
  • What mixtures of web based technologies should be used?
  • Will the course be synchronous or asynchronous?
  • How will evaluation be determined?
  • Will the learning groups be multi-disciplinary groupings of learners all with different roles and different rankings?
  • What is the company budget for such a project?
  • The instructor will have to consider creating e-Learning modules that blend with Instructor led classroom sessions, mentoring for each student if needed, and create self-study exercises.
  • If the trainer is going to have everything on a server, there must be a privacy issue addressed and all elements of the class must be stored in one folder for streamlined access.


In the case of teaching better communication methods the following aspects of face-to-face instruction could be converted to a distance-learning format:


  • Group discussions could be handled online as a threaded discussion.
  • Role playing exercises could be done in a virtual environment like Second Life, with Avatars.  In this way there might be less inhibition of acting in certain ways to address communication issues in a role-playing format.


How wills the role of the trainer change in a distance learning environment?

  • The trainer will change from a f2f instructor that leads in a traditional way to more of a learning facilitator enabling his students to create their own learning base.
  • The trainer will need to move to a student –based learning environment.


The trainer can utilize the following tips to encourage the trainees to communicate online?


  • Break the group into small groups of 3-4 people and pose challenging real life work scenarios.  Have the students participate in threaded discussions about how to solve the issue.  They must go out to the web and locate information, tools, web media that would be helpful to a problem.
  • Have the trainees keep a blog of their experiences with communication in the workplace (both challenges and successes) that could be shared with other members of the work team.  Comments could be shared.
  • Create a project based learning task that team members have to work on collaboratively online to solve.
  • Share the idea, which it is often easier to communicate in writing as you have more time to reflect on the situation you are writing about.
  • Discuss how shy workers can have a place to ‘speak up’.
  • Help employees see that ultimately they will reduce training time and that the students can move through system simulation at their own pace.




Simonson,M. , Smaldino, S., Albright, M., and Zvacek, S. (2009)  Teaching and Learning at a Distance:  Foundations of Distance Education.  Pearson.  (pp. 233-234).


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