Blended Learning is an approach that combines online learning with face-to-face classroom learning. Blended Learning courses help learners by giving them the flexibility to learn at their own time and pace, while maintaining some face-to-face classroom time for deeper interaction and engagement.
There are different approaches towards Blended Learning, depending on the objectives of the course. The degree of learning time that shifts from offline to online learning changes depending on the nature of the course, and the level of flexibility that the organisation wants to give to the learners.
Some courses can continue to require significant face-to-face time with online components being a supplement to the learning process, whereas some courses can be self-paced self-learning courses requiring very little to no face-to-face instructional time. In our experience, customers have taken courses that are repetitive in nature (such as Product refresher trainings, or compliance trainings) to an online-only mode, whereas other trainings such as Sales Trainings or Operational workshops have a 50-50 split between face-to-face and online learning components.
Blended Learning is used to provide more flexibility to the learners, increase adoption of learning content (as more users will be able to participate if less face-to-face time is needed), and reduce cost for organisations as the logistics to schedule, plan, and host several employees for a face-to-face training session can add up to several hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars, depending on the size of the organisation.
If you are looking to execute a successful Blended Learning course, here are 5 tips for you:
1) The right mix of Online & Offline: The success of a Blended Learning course depends on the split between face-to-face and online learning, as well as what learning activities are done in each of those components. That is why you need to structure your content by deciding how much and what content needs to be consumed online and how much requires face-to-face time. Assignments, study materials and homework can be done online effectively. Making the online content engaging by making them with a mix of videos, presentations, interactive quizzes makes it interesting for the users.
2) Make it interactive: While trainers use several tools and techniques to make face-to-face sessions interactive, the same needs to be done in the online learning component of the blended learning courses. It is important to intersperse learning content with quizzes and other interaction activities. Putting learners and professionals through challenges increases their attention to complete the task. Making the curriculum interactive with virtual rewards and certifications could prove very effective as well.
3) Ongoing Communication & Collaboration: Losing face-to-face time should not mean losing the rich communication and discussions that can happen in the real world during the workshop sessions. Using technology that can enable discussions and social collaboration to mimic the sharing that happens during/after the workshop in the real world is important to keep the sharing of learning and best practices to continue. What’s the purpose of knowledge if isn’t mutually shared? The most productive curriculum will always blend discussion and lead it to collaboration opportunities offline, which allows the trainer and the trainee to share feedback and exchange notes. Using a learning platform that can allow for conversations with posts, comments and likes, allows for social collaboration. The idea at the end of the day is to make the learning process engaging for learners and for the trainer to produce the best results.
4) Use Face-to-Face time to focus on Learning Gaps : In a time-starved world, it is critical for a blended learning course to make the best use of the face-to-face time. Technology can help trainers better understand which topics learners are struggling with by running pre-workshop assessments on learning tools to identify areas/topics where users are struggling, or run polls to get a sense of what is more important for the learner group. Instead of a spray-and-pray approach of covering the entire content, we should use technology to identify learning gaps and focus on those during the face-to-face training workshops.
5) Flexibility, Convenience & Accessibility: One of the reasons Blended Learning becomes popular is because it offers flexibility and convenience to the learners. In order to do that, it is important that the learning platform allows for easy access to the content, collaborate or ask questions when in need or doubt, and the ability to learn whenever they want, wherever they want and at the pace they want.
So if you are planning to shift to a Blended Learning model for your training courses in your organisation or institute, keep these points in mind, and opt for a learning tool that can meet your needs and keep the learners engaged.