The “Perfect” Blended Learning Program for Lawyers
There is a push for lawyers to learn how to use technology. But lawyers, really all legal professionals, are increasingly overwhelmed by work and distracted by constant interruptions. Recent research from Bersin by Deloitte suggests that corporate learners only have 1% of the work week to devote to training. If there isn’t time for training, how can we make this happen?
We must adjust our training programs to compete with distractions and lack of time for learning activities. With challenges for time and attention, create a blended learning program that incorporates the right amount instructor-led training with e-Learning, assessment and practice.
There is still a need for face to face training for some topics. Especially when you need to convey difficult or critical concept. In person interactions give individuals the chance to follow up with questions as they seek clarification. Some things to consider before scheduling instructor-led sessions:
- Use face time sparingly. Is there a different, perhaps better, format for the topic? If there is, don’t schedule in-person classes if they aren’t necessary.
- Get to the point quickly. Develop a plan where you only convey the most essential information about the topic and direct lawyers to other sources for additional information and practice.
- Make time for practice in class. In the classroom, narrow the topics so you leave plenty of time for practice, note-taking and reflection.
- Make it convenient. Schedule 10 or 15 minutes in a practice group meeting instead of asking them to make time to come into your classroom. Directing your comments to practice group specifics is a bonus.
- Flip the presentation. Use short video content that conveys the essential information and schedule time to be present for follow-up and questions.
Trainers need to shift from the idea of presenting information to assisting legal professionals in learning both in the classroom and in the workplace. e-Learning is tool that can service both needs.
- Create e-Learning topics that are short and specific. Short, targeted topics allow lawyers to focus on building the unique skills they need to get their work done.
- Help lawyers find the right topics for their unique needs. Know what content is available and make recommendations based on real workflow needs.
- Blend your e-Learning. TutorPro offers two content creation tools.
- TutorAuthorNG creates simulation content. Simulation is useful when the order of the process matters and you need to control how the lawyer is interacting with the software.
- Live Content Studio allows you to create content that is delivered and interacts in a live application to both train and assess. It builds skills by allowing the lawyers to use judgement and connects the learning to the real work.
Assessment should be a part of your blended strategy even when you are developing a program for lawyers. As learning professionals, our goal is to build skills and change behaviors. People need to understand where they are now and where they need be to see the gap in their skills and give them goals to work toward.
- Focus on measuring behavior change in the context of work. It allows the lawyer and you to measure their individual strengths and weaknesses and focus on their unique learning needs.
- Include Formative Assessment techniques. Rather than creating a comprehensive assessment taken at the end of a long series of learning events, embed assessment into lessons and at regular intervals with accompanying feedback to improve performance.
Practice and Support
Studies show that to truly learn and change behavior, the learner must be active in the learning process. When spaced practice and supportive content is added to learning events, more information is retained.
- Design opportunities for practice. Purposely include moments for practice in your training program.
- Space practice over time from the initial training event. Technology skills build over time and lawyers don’t always perform the same tasks every day. Provide multiple opportunities for practice and feedback.
- Use short, targeted learning content for on-the-job support. This type of performance support serves up knowledge just in time to do the job. Keep it short, specific and on point.
Back to the title, there is no single “perfect” blended learning plan that I can share with you. Blended learning programs are learning experiences designed around the real needs of your learners, the type of learning that needs to happen, your resources on hand to develop learning and the unique needs of your firm and your clients. Everyone’s blend should be customized to their own unique needs.