What Is Blended Learning?
Blended learning solutions are a modern approach to learning that combines both traditional classroom methods and digital technology to deliver an effective and efficient learning experience. Blended learning is widely used by organizations to improve learning outcomes and employee engagement. It offers a more flexible and engaging way for corporate learners to acquire new skills and knowledge, with the added convenience of being able to learn at their own pace and in their own time. But what exactly is blended learning, and how does it work?
Incorporating technology into corporate training enables trainers to enhance the learning experience and broaden their understanding of specific topics. For example, trainers can share links to videos, online resources, and quizzes, allowing learners to access these materials outside the classroom.
What Isn’t Blended Learning?
1. Blended Learning Goes Beyond A Mere Combination Of Technology And Teaching
Blended learning courses are designed to include both face-to-face, instructor-led learning and online or digital course components. These courses do not simply replicate course content in varying formats, but use in-person and online elements to create a richer learning experience. Blended learning is distinct from both completely online courses and lecture courses that are broadcasted online.
2. Technology-Rich Classrooms Do Not Equate To Blended Learning
Adding technology to the session does not guarantee that employees are actively engaged in the learning process or have control over the time, place, pace, and path of their learning. Simply providing every employee with a device does not mean they have opportunities to personalize their learning experience.
3. Blended Learning Is Not The Same As Personalized Learning
Blended learning solutions create paths toward personalization, but it is not the same as personalized learning. The partnership between the facilitator and the learner is needed for personalization, and this is achievable in a blended learning environment. Facilitators can also use conferencing to discuss learner progress and customize their learning path.
4. Blended Learning Is Not A Replacement For Face-to-Face Training
Blended learning is designed to complement face-to-face training, not replace it entirely. The key to success is finding the right balance between online and face-to-face activities to achieve the best learning outcomes.
5. Blended Learning Is Not One-Size-Fits-All
Blended learning can take many forms, and what works well for one organization may not work for another. It is important to design a blended learning program that is tailored to the needs and preferences of the learners. This includes choosing the right mix of online and in-person activities, selecting appropriate technology tools, and developing engaging and interactive content.
What Are The Types Of Blended Learning Models?
1. Face-to-Face Model
The face-to-face model of blended learning closely resembles traditional classroom training, with a focus on individual needs. This approach targets learners who may be struggling or wants to excel, meaning that not all participants will need to take additional online training.
When you want to maintain the benefits of traditional classroom training while addressing the individual learning needs of your team.
2. Rotation Model
The rotation model is a common type of blended learning that involves rotating between traditional classroom sessions and online learning activities. In the rotation model, students may rotate between several activities, including online learning modules, instructor-led instruction, and group work.
When you want to combine traditional classroom learning with online learning activities and provide a variety of learning experiences for your learners.
3. Flex Model
A flex model is a flexible approach to blended learning that enables learners to work at their own pace and on their own schedule. In the flex model, learners have access to digital learning materials and online resources that they can access whenever they want. They may also have access to a teacher or facilitator for additional guidance and support.
When you want to offer a flexible approach to learning that allows learners to work at their own pace and on their own schedule.
4. Self-Blend Model
A self-blend model is a self-directed approach to blended learning that enables learners to choose their own learning path. In this model, learners may choose to take online courses or attend traditional classroom sessions, depending on their individual learning needs and preferences.
When you want to give learners the freedom to choose their own learning path and personalize their learning experience.
5. Online Lab Model
The online lab model is a variation of the rotation model that involves using an online platform or virtual lab to supplement traditional classroom sessions. In the online lab model, learners may use digital tools and resources to complete assignments, conduct research, and engage in group work.
When you want to supplement traditional classroom sessions with digital tools and resources to enhance the learning experience and provide more opportunities for collaboration.
6. Flipped Classroom Model
The flipped classroom model involves flipping the traditional classroom model by introducing digital learning activities before classroom sessions. In the flipped classroom model, learners may watch videos, complete online quizzes, and participate in group discussions before attending a classroom session where they can apply what they have learned.
When you want to introduce digital learning activities before classroom sessions to maximize classroom time for application and interaction.
How Does Hybrid Learning Differ From Blended Learning?
Hybrid and blended learning are often used interchangeably, but they actually have some differences in their implementation.
- Hybrid learning
A few employees attend the session in person, while others attend virtually, with the instructor delivering content to both groups simultaneously through video conferencing tools. Hybrid learning alternates between in-person and online sessions.
- Blended learning
Combines in-person training with online learning methods, allowing learners to participate in both classroom lectures and online activities such as quizzes and discussions. Blended learning solutions combine in-person and online sessions.
In summary, while both hybrid and blended learning involve a mix of face-to-face and online components, the distinction lies in the intentional Instructional Design and integration of those components to create a cohesive learning experience. Think of it like this—hybrid learning is like a phone that can make both voice calls and video calls, while blended learning is like a chef who combines multiple ingredients to create a customized dish.
What Are The Benefits Of Blended Learning In Corporate Learning Programs?
Before implementing blended learning, it’s natural to wonder about its benefits. Here are some advantages of blended learning for both learners (employees) and organizations (companies):
For The Employee
Blended learning allows learners to have a flexible schedule and work at their own pace, accommodating their individual learning styles and preferences.
- Self-directed learning
Blended learning allows learners to control and schedule their own learning path, giving them the opportunity to access courses 24/7 and fit learning around their other commitments. This promotes learner autonomy and self-directed learning.
- Engaging learning process
Blended learning provides a variety of tools and methods to make learning more engaging and interactive, such as dialogue simulations, game-like courses, and other interactive media.
- Safe and connected
Blended learning reduces the number of hours learners spend together offline, making it a safer learning environment, while still providing live communication opportunities.
For The Organization
- Greater learner engagement and better comprehension
Blended learning leads to greater learner engagement by providing different opportunities and using digital tools. Additionally, one popular blended learning model, the “flipped classroom” model, results in better comprehension by allowing learners to study theoretical materials at their own pace and practice new knowledge and skills during in-person sessions.
- Increased productivity and enhanced retention
Blended learning enables employees to acquire new skills and knowledge more efficiently, resulting in improved job performance and increased productivity, and can improve employee retention rates by offering ongoing Learning and Development opportunities that contribute to satisfaction and engagement.
- Cost-effective and customized training
Blended learning is a cost-effective solution that reduces the need for physical infrastructure and travel costs while allowing organizations to customize training programs to meet specific employee and business needs.
- Detailed analytics
Blended learning provides detailed analytics on learner progress, allowing businesses to see how competent learners are at specific topics, whether they are ready to move forward, and much more. This saves time and provides valuable insights that can improve training programs.
What Are The Disadvantages Of Blended Learning?
- Instructor training
Blended learning requires instructors to develop new skills and adapt to new teaching methods. Some instructors may not be comfortable with technology or may not have experience teaching in an online environment. Providing training for instructors can be time-consuming and costly.
- Time management
Blended learning can be time-consuming for both instructors and learners. Instructors must develop course materials and manage multiple platforms, while learners may need to adjust their schedules to accommodate in-person and online learning activities.
- Technical issues
Blended learning relies heavily on technology, which can be unreliable at times. Technical issues such as internet connectivity problems, software glitches, and hardware malfunctions can disrupt learning and cause frustration for both instructors and learners.
- Learning outcomes
While blended learning can be an effective teaching method, it may not be suitable for all learners. Some learners may struggle with the online component of blended learning, while others may not benefit from the in-person component. Organizations may need to carefully consider the learning outcomes they hope to achieve and whether blended learning is the best method for achieving those outcomes.
How Can I Create A Blended Learning Solution For A Corporate Learning Program?
By following these steps, you can create an effective blended learning solution for a corporate learning program that meets the needs of your learners and achieve your learning objectives.
What Are The Best Practices For Blended Learning Solutions?
Blended learning solutions are a powerful tool for delivering large amounts of learning content to independent and engaged employees. However, getting employees to take responsibility for their own learning requires implementing best practices and blended learning strategies alongside your curriculum. Here are three ways to do so:
- Clearly explain the rationale for blended learning
Learners need to understand why combining independent and in-class learning is effective. Take the time to explain the benefits of blended learning, such as respecting individual learning paces and using session time to engage in dialogue.
- Include diverse activities to cater to different learning styles
Try to include a range of activities, such as group discussions, online quizzes, games, and role-playing exercises, to cater to different learning preferences. Offering diverse activities helps ensure that learners stay engaged and motivated.
- Utilize media to maximize learning
Take advantage of the vast resources available on the internet. Use videos, research assignments, and online modules to provide learners with a variety of learning opportunities. Encourage learners to apply new knowledge shortly after leaving the classroom to enhance retention.
Digitization has transformed industries, and blended learning requires a balance between online and offline training. To implement it effectively, find the right blended learning solution provider with experience in designing and delivering effective programs. They should offer a range of tools, support, and training to meet your training goals and learner needs.
Originally published at www.thinkdom.co.