POSTED BY MARTIN SMITH
We were recently approached by the corporate customer of a Business School in the south east of England, who were looking for more flexible executive education courses. We don’t usually get approached by our customer’s customers, but we’d done some online learning consultancy for them in the past, and they were looking for a more flexible management education solution for their managers and leaders.
The main problem they had was simple: their managers didn’t want their staff to have to travel to attend campus-based courses.
They wanted greater study flexibility with respect to:
In other words, they wanted greater:
- convenience; and
- control for their employees while encouraging their studies.
It was clear from talking to the Business School that blended learning, as they defined it, would be ‘culturally difficult’ with the current academic staff. Investing in the development of yet more flexible core modules that could underpin a blended delivery was simply ‘not on’.
Why should this be?
The benefits of a blended learning approach are arguably even greater for the Business School itself. Well authored, fit-for-purpose blended learning modules can sustain greater numbers of students, studying more flexibly in more personalised learning experiences. They cut tutoring and assessment overheads, using online publishing and assessment technologies to their best advantage, while allowing staff more time to motivate individual learners and contextualise the learning experience. Well designed and authored blended learning modules can also help with retention and pass rates.
The key is ‘fit for purpose’. Many university departments, or individuals within a department, can throw together a nice looking online course. Few create the conditions required to develop and sustain a business around online learning. Modules – whether for distance, blended or face-to-face delivery – have to be able to be motivating and relevant. They also have to be of high quality and complete.
Having helped thousands of MSc and MBA students in 150+ countries around the world to undertake successful flexible learning experiences, we cannot stress too highly the value of investing in the creation of your own distinct blended learning materials. It’s not particularly difficult to do right, but it’s very easy to do badly. Done right, it brings strategic new opportunities to enhance your customer offering and appeal.