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Parallel’s successful blended learning strategy

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Using elearning modules, quizzes, podcasts, on-demand, webinars and face-to-face, Parallel Project Training has a market-leading blended learning strategy to deliver courses for project management professionals.

Established in 2009, Parallel Project Training is one of the UK’s leading project management training providers, delivering courses for the Association for Project Management (APM) qualifications. They were the first company to introduce blended learning approaches for APM.

Co-founder Paul Naybour’s background is in the management of rail and infrastructure projects, leading training programmes for many of the key players in the rail and transportation industry. He also acts as the company’s Business Development Director, delivers training courses to project organisations such as the Ministry of Defense and Network Rail, and has been actively involved in developing their range of podcasts and webinars. At the very beginning of the company’s journey he recognised the need for a flexible approach to learning and a range of study options that would enable project managers to study in a way that suited them.

“This approach has enabled corporations and individuals to develop a professional project management capability at a time and place that suits them, and using the methods best suited to their learning style.”

Paul Naybour – Co-founder

The APM Project Fundamentals Qualification is one of Parallel’s blended learning courses – a practical course for new project managers or members of project teams who want a better understanding of the processes, tools and language of project management. The course can be taken either as a live online course or a 2 day face-to-face course and both options include access to downloadable content (course syllabus, guidance notes and sample exam paper), printed learning material (APM study guide) and full access to eLearning modules in Moodle. Within Moodle, attendees can watch pre-recorded video content, complete quizzes at the end of each section, and listen to podcasts to supplement and reinforce learning. For a sneak peak of how Parallel is using Moodle to deliver elearning, check out this teaser video. Finally, attendees have the option of taking the practice exam online via remote proctor, or in a traditional classroom setting.

In terms of their software choices, Parallel uses Adobe Connect to deliver their online training because it’s “reliable and very flexible”, and they’ve had excellent feedback from customers on the use of Moodle for hosting their elearning – “people find it easy to use and intuitive”.

And when they recently ran a survey with their course attendees to gauge their experience with live online learning, they asked if the session was engaging and the result was 100%.

“We always strive to make our training interesting and engaging, with trainers who know their stuff. It’s great to see this has translated to online training. Many people fear an online class will be dull and boring, but it’s great to see that that’s not the experience of our delegates.”

So, what’s the recipe for delivering successful blended learning?

  1. Parallel supports their attendees from the moment they register. From the moment attendees register, they can access downloadable content including self-assessments and practice exams, as well as printed study guides. For live online webinars, to cultivate a successful online learning environment, Parallel provides information to attendees on how to get set-up, including this YouTube video on how to setup Adobe Connect. If all else fails, they’ll talk people through the set-up process over the phone to ensure that no one is left behind. 1:1 tutoring is also available for those who need additional learning support before taking the exam.
  2. They’ve invested time in their live online setup. They use good quality headsets, put their webcams at eye level, use a pop-up screen for the background, set-up lighting from the side of the screen and ensure trainers are well presented. Their webinars are also highly interactive and engaging – they make use of PowerPoint slides, quizzes and discussion boards, animation, video clips, live screen capture and “whatever else can make the subject come alive”. They schedule a lot of breaks in which attendees will be asked to go away and complete activities – just like you would in a classroom.
  3. They’ve invested time in developing content for blended learning. Live online webinars, face-to-face courses (classroom or private), downloadable content, printed study guides, elearning modules, quizzes and podcasts, are all used to support different learning styles, reiterate course content and improve knowledge retention. In terms of the type of content they offer, their advice to other training providers is “look at what your competitors are doing, and think about how you can compete. Focus on niche content. Choose a subject-matter expert as the presenter who is comfortable speaking live on camera and knows their subject well enough to answer any questions that come up”.
  4. Their training management system is fit for purpose. Parallel discovered Arlo when they were looking for an event management system that was specifically designed for training companies. Since implementing Arlo they’ve been able to deliver remote training and live online, have been able to save £50k per year in course administration costs, move entirely away from paper bookings, manual joining instructions and paper records and have seen a 19% increase in their registrations. They also liked the way Arlo integrated with WordPress, Xero, and Moodle to support their blended learning vision.
Parallel Project Training case study for blended learning with Arlo training management software
Parallel Project Training case study for blended learning with Arlo training management software

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