Interactions between students and instructors in a classroom helps keep the attention focused on the topic of discussion. Instructors may call on a student for their opinion, have open and interesting discussions, or have students give presentations. They can move around the room, make eye contact, and adjust content to the students’ needs. In these respects, classroom training has certain advantages over e-learning.
Using E-Learning in the Classroom – A Blended Learning Approach
Conversely, e-learning also has advantages over classroom training including, (1) allowing asynchronous delivery, (2) adapting the content to students’ performance, (3) scalability, and (4) lower overall costs. Blended learning is a combination of e-learning and classroom training and makes it possible to utilize some of the advantages of each. The right blend can be better than either type by itself. There are several different approaches to blended learning. I’ve used it effectively in two different ways, one to teach police officers interview and interrogation methods, and the other to teach managers effective job coaching.
Teaching Proper Interview and Interrogation to Police Officers
Teaching Interview & Interrogation requires an educational or instructional component and a skill building component. Providing the educational component first would have resulted in hours of lecture. These action-oriented police officers would have quickly tuned out. Some in my class told me that they learned very little in other classes they took on the same topic. Perhaps they had “tuned out.” For my class, I used a blended learning approach that used a virtual role-player who was guilty sometimes and innocent other times. To start, I demonstrated how to use the role-player software to talk with the suspect. Then, I let them try to interview her. While the technology was easy to use, when the interview went wrong, she called them names and walked out. When that happened, the officers became highly motivated to get her to confess. They were now ready for the lecture, where I was giving them some of the keys to a successful interview and interrogation.
As I repeated this cycle of practice and lecture, the officers started working through their breaks and even stayed an hour after class. Two of them took their computers home and worked until 3:00 AM. As they practice and build both skills and confidence, they realized that the experiences they were having improved their on-the-job techniques. Research can be found at www.bit.ly/3ABLgj6.
Teaching Job Coaching to Managers
When I had a class of 20 managers from the same company, I used another blended-learning approach. Once again, I started by demonstrating how I could talk to the virtual role-player to practice coaching. During the demonstration, I did everything right to provide them a model to follow. As I went through the exercise, I explained why I was saying what I said to the role-player and then finished the morning with a lecture, using our role-play experience as an example to make points. After lunch, I asked the class to lead me through another role-play, while I provided some support and related what we were doing to the lecture. Then, we divided up into five teams of four and each group worked through role-plays. The on-going feedback provided by the e-learning system helped each team improve as they practiced. At the end of the day, they were asked to practice individually when they returned to the office. Some did, but some went back to a busy office and did not. The classroom environment provided the motivation and e-learning role-plays provided an engaging realistic experience, that focused the learners on the training topic.
E-learning can be used in the classroom to help motivate students. There are different approaches to creating the blend and making the training more effective. The two approaches described here used computer-based exercises to motivate learners, clarify content relevance, keep students focused on the topic, and build skills.