team-based learning vs off-the-shelf

Why team-based learning transforms the business better than off-the-shelf or curated resources

Customized, team-based learning beats off-the-shelf for business transformation

So, you’ve curated a library of e-learning courses and off-the-shelf content—now what? Are you noticing behavior changes in your people after they complete these courses? We’ve spoken to many senior HR executives who see the benefit of e-learning and off-the-shelf products in certain circumstances, but they also know the limitations of those tools. To address specific objectives, learning leaders are using customized team-based learning (TBL) experiences to ensure application, foster collaboration, and achieve the best outcomes.

When should I consider e-learning?

E-learning shines when it is used as just-in-time performance support to introduce concepts and teach knowledge. It also works well to train learners on specific, repetitive processes. The majority of e-learning falls short when it comes to applying new skills and changing learner behavior. When we include e-learning in an initiative, it’s used in a supporting role to ensure learners are equipped with common knowledge before embarking on the more transformational components of the training.

When should I consider off-the-shelf learning content?

Off-the-shelf content can save time and money for small groups of learners, particularly if there’s a compressed timeframe for delivery. Many new vendors have entered this space in the past five years, often offering discrete training modules branded as microlearning. These enable companies to have a library of training about specific topics at the ready.

There is a time and place for off-the-shelf learning programs—they can offer significant cost savings when applied to clearly defined topics with straightforward objectives. But you need to think bigger when you have business transformation goals in mind.

Choose team-based learning for a truly immersive and transformative experience 

For many employee training programs and business transformation initiatives, custom, team-based learning (TBL) experiences are the only effective solution. 

To explain how custom TBL beats off-the-shelf and e-learning programs and courses for most strategic business outcomes, we’ll unpack how the TBL approach helped one of the world’s leading insurance companies replicate the success of Google’s highly touted management transformation initiative, which was code-named Project Oxygen.

Custom learning addressed specific challenges in the organization 

Among other HR issues, the large insurance company was dealing with an inconsistent promotion process, leaving employees unhappy in their career paths and unsure of what to do about it. The company was also hiring from outside to fill key roles, which was more expensive and time-consuming than promoting internally.

The company’s goal was to attract, develop, and retain top talent by linking individual skill development, career progressions, performance management, and compensation in a transparent process. 

To accomplish these objectives, the company was rolling out a new set of tools and introducing a new set of leader standards (competencies) that loosely followed the Project Oxygen competency model developed by Google. Our role was to bring these skills and tools to life so that employees could practice applying them in a safe environment. 

Together, we identified the most common challenges that leaders faced, as well as what good and bad looked like in those situations. We also hypothesized how the new performance management and promotions processes would be received, what could go wrong, and how to mitigate those risks. This discovery process enabled us to develop a tailored learning solution to help the company deal with their specific challenges. 

The Outcome: Learning that maximized ROI through higher knowledge retention and application 

We created an immersive learning experience to build the specific skills leaders needed to create high-performing teams in the company’s unique environment. Using real-life scenarios, teams of learners had to make difficult choices that impacted two competing objectives: growing employee engagement and driving business results. A well-designed TBL simulation helps learners stay connected to the right choices and outcomes using a set of custom scoring metrics and a live leaderboard. This specific, predictable feedback enables learners to fail forward and learn from their mistakes. Gamification techniques, including, random events, competition on a live leaderboard, and long-term impact of choices, created a whole new level of learner engagement and knowledge retention. 

The program was rolled out to over 1,000 leaders throughout North America using team-based training. It’s well-established that people learn better in a team environment. Sure, similar learning content could be modeled in e-learning, and a single person with a specific experience set could make their own choices as they work through the content. However, bringing people together through TBL assimilates their diverse perspectives and unique expertise. This allows learners to broaden their perspectives, learn how to engage in a team environment, develop their emotional intelligence, and tease out the best possible solutions as a team. In the process, the bonds between team members grow stronger, helping them to translate their learning back to the job.

Learners at the company loved the experience, and the senior sponsors were thrilled with the passion it inspired among leaders at all levels.

Ready to move off the shelf? 

Blueline’s ExperienceBUILDERTM simulations are custom-built to suit the needs of the organization. The platform also meets the needs of a hybrid workforce by facilitating team collaboration from anywhere. Learners work together in teams to impact key business metrics, and multiple teams can go head-to-head on a live leaderboard. In this experiential, immersive training, learners are active participants who come away with company-specific skills and strategies to apply right away. 

Contact the learning experts at Blueline Simulations. We’ll build a transformative, collaborative, team-based immersive learning experience that delivers on your unique learning objectives. 

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