Blended training – what is it and how it works
Modernity offers us two training formats: classic and online. Both are popular, but not perfect. We tried to understand the pros and cons of each of them and deduce the formula for effective training.
one(Classic training – 2 hour lectures – deadlines, binding to the place and time) + 2 (online training – zero feedback) + 3 (online material submission + individual mentoring + laboratory practice) =?
1. We took the good old classics as a basis. Classical training is well known. It is a set of theoretical lectures and practical exercises that are available to all students. The format is familiar to most, familiar and not in doubt. The rules of the game are known at the start: the listener knows exactly the start and end dates of the course, the place and time of the classes, clear deadlines for completing practical tasks. Everything is transparent and fixed.
The flaws of the classical approach that we tried to minimize are also very familiar:
- Lack of flexible logistics. If the place determined by the lecturer is inconvenient for you according to the location or the training time does not suit you, you will not be able to influence this.
- Lack of a second chance. If for some reason you cannot attend at least one lecture from the course, you lose this part of the knowledge. You cannot transfer the lesson; you have to choose between personal time and the quality of training.
- Strictness of deadlines. If you have registered for the training before everyone else, you still have to wait for the official start and the full set of the group. If you do not have time to pass practical tasks to a specific deadline, you lose the chance to successfully complete the course.
- Dispersion of attention. For 1.5-3 hours of a lecture, a huge amount of new information is dumped onto the listener, which is difficult to digest, even if the lecturer is as charismatic as possible. Studies at The Catholic University, Washington prove that the student is distracted 30 seconds after the start of the lesson. For 50 minutes of lecture comes out only 10-20 minutes of activity and attention.
2. The second component of our training is online training. The vast majority of it is not limited to deadlines and the scale of the audience, is not tied to a specific place and format. It gives maximum flexibility in terms of time and volumes of consumption of educational material: you can watch the video at your convenience and from any medium, also view the material an unlimited number of times.
Sounds like a more effective learning concept? In fact, online has its serious drawbacks:
- Too large assortment. A huge number of courses are placed in the online space, such a volume makes it difficult to search and misleads the user. A person is lost and either can’t choose a specific training at all, or runs into poor-quality training and quits training without really understanding anything.
- Lack of feedback. Online training involves independent work, which is very difficult for students with a minimum level of training. The training participant cannot understand whether he is moving in the right direction, and there is no one to ask questions.
- Lack of deadlines. The main plus can turn into the biggest drawback. The lack of a framework gives the listener freedom, but relieves responsibility for the result. He has the opportunity to postpone training indefinitely and never finish training.
3. As a result, we created a format that combines the advantages of each of the training approaches and is complemented by lively communication and practice. We used new form of supply of material. Instead of classic one-and-a-half / two-hour live lectures or videos of webinars the training module consists of a series of short clips lasting 5-10 minutes. Timing of the video material was calculated based on empirical studies of the MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Rollers combined with tests and practical tasks.
The purpose of one module is to solve a practical task. The videos will provide the listener with the necessary theoretical basis, and the tests will help to understand how fully the information has been learned. Student can choose convenient time and place of study, as well as adjust the dynamics of the course for yourself. The module has the ability to skip already familiar information or to study more completely new.
We added live communication to the training. – A general chat in which the trainees can ask their questions and help each other. The teacher or curator directs the group if they cannot find the right answer themselves. When the basics are completed, the process enters individual code review. Each major module, the training participant individually discusses in the office of the company with one of our engineers.
At the end of this stage, we select the best listeners and invite for practice to the laboratory. Here we form teams, define team mentors and put students in EPAM operating conditions, that is, we give projects as close to reality as possible and set real terms. Those who can cope are waiting job offer from company.
one(Classic training – 2 hour lectures – deadlines, binding to the place and time) + 2 (online training – zero feedback) + 3 (innovative presentation of the material + individual mentoring + practice in the laboratory) = blended training
As a result, we get a hybrid, better known as blended format. It has been little studied and is not yet very popular, as it is associated with experiments and risks. We take these risks consciously in order to use the time to train a specialist as efficiently as possible, without losing the quality of the course. You can check how much we managed it yourself – some courses are already available on training.by, for example Automated Testing.