5 Tips to Make Blended Learning a Success in Your Organisation
Blended learning is a training strategy where you combine e-learning content and modules with more traditional instructor-led elements. The e-learning part of the course is self-directed by the learner, while the instructor-led elements are typically live, whether in-person or virtually.
Blended learning can be suitable for a range of training topic areas, from sales training to leadership training to compliance training. The following five tips will help ensure blended learning is a success whenever you decide to use it.
Understand the Different Blended Learning Models and Approaches
Blended learning is an umbrella term that describes various approaches to combine e-learning and instructor-led elements in a training course. Understanding the different approaches is crucial to getting a structure that will maximise results.
The main blended learning models include:
- Supplemented online – mostly e-learning content with some instructor-led elements.
- Rotational – close to equal balance between e-learning and instructor-led elements.
- Individual rotation – where both e-learning and instructor-led elements are based on learner needs.
- Flexible – mostly e-learning content where learners can get support from an instructor when required.
- Supplemented face-to-face – mostly instructor-led with some e-learning content to reinforce learnings and facilitate practice.
- Flipped classroom – where concepts are introduced with e-learning content and then reinforced and/or put into context with instructor-led elements.
- Self-directed – where the core elements of the course are delivered via instructor-led sessions. E-learning content is then made available to learners who want to explore the topic in greater detail.
Define Why Blended Learning is the Best Training Delivery Method for the Topic
While blended learning can be a highly effective training strategy, it is not right in all situations. Therefore, it is important to assess the best approach for the training content you are developing.
The learners who will complete the course should be your main focus. In other words, why will learners benefit from a blended learning approach compared to, for example, 100 percent e-learning?
Things to consider when defining why blended learning is the best approach include:
- The topic
- Capabilities of learners
- Where learners are located
- How you will deliver the instructor-led elements (in-person, virtually, pre-recorded, or ad hoc asynchronous)
- Capabilities of your instructors
- Capabilities of your e-learning development partner
Decide Which Elements Will Be Instructor-Led
Once you have decided to pursue a blended learning approach, the next step is to decide which elements will be instructor-led and which will be delivered using e-learning content.
Thinking about the strengths of both training delivery methods will help you make these decisions.
The main benefits of instructor-led elements include:
- Facilitates conversation and debate with the instructor and other learners. These conversations and debates can deepen understanding and spark new areas of interest.
- Enables collaborative learning, where employees learn together and provide each other with peer support.
- Enables the practice of physical tasks that are difficult to accurately or effectively replicate digitally.
- Facilitates coaching and provides additional support that can be personalised according to a learner’s requirements and the individual questions they raise.
The main benefits of e-learning elements include:
- There are no geographical boundaries or limitations, as e-learning courses can just as easily be sent to learners on the other side of the world as learners in the UAE or Saudi Arabia.
- High-quality e-learning courses result in excellent rates of engagement, particularly among younger generations.
- All learners have an equal experience as they all receive the same content in the same way.
- Facilitates learning from failure, as learners can try things and be pushed outside of their comfort zones in a safe virtual space.
- Content can be presented using a range of media types according to what will deliver the best results.
Make the E-Learning Content Engaging
The above section highlights engagement as one of the benefits of e-learning, but engagement is not guaranteed, either in the instructor-led or e-learning elements of a blended learning course. Therefore, there needs to be a clear strategy to engage learners with all parts of the course.
The use of various media types in the e-learning elements and facilitating collaborative learning in the instructor-led elements are two examples that have already been mentioned. Ensuring the learner is a proactive participant in the training is also essential.
Explain Why You Are Using Blended Learning
The final point is about communication, as it is common to go through a detailed process when making decisions and creating a training course, and then simply sending the finished product to learners. Context is often provided as to why the topic is important and how it benefits both the learner and the organisation. However, the reasons for using blended learning are usually left out.
Explaining why you have used a blended learning approach will help to secure buy-in from learners and ensure the training is a success.
Maximising the Impact of Blended Learning
Blended learning is a training strategy that can deliver substantial benefits, but it is not something that should be used without clear justification and planning. After all, there are likely to be additional costs with a blended learning approach compared to, for example, delivering 100 percent of the content via e-learning. Those extra costs can include the cost of an instructor and/or the cost of getting people into a room together for the instructor-led elements.
There needs to be good justification for those additional costs and all the other reasons for choosing blended learning over alternative training delivery methods. With those justifications, you can maximise return on investment as well as the positive impact of your training strategy.