These days, many businesses have applied a blended learning approach to train their people. But before why dive into why this has happened and how you could do that, too, let’s give a solid blended learning definition.
So, what is blended learning? It is a training approach that combines traditional, classroom-based learning with online training.
In education, blended learning often refers to the use of laboratory equipment or computers to complement the class sessions. The goal of this blended learning approach is to strengthen the teaching process by practicing and applying theories learned in class, without the physical presence of the instructor.
In the world of corporate learning, the blended learning approach refers to the complementary use of eLearning in the standard employee training model. With eLearning, companies can apply self-paced learning techniques, use tests and quizzes to engage learners, and track performance or gather feedback.
Unlike education, in business settings, the traditional training model doesn’t have to be classroom-based. Especially when physical presence is not feasible or cost-effective, trainers can interact with learners online, through webinars. In this case, blended learning combines online, live interaction, and eLearning programs, like follow-up courses and assignments.
In other words, a blended learning approach takes the best of both worlds: the benefit of having a subject matter expert demonstrating skills and sharing knowledge in-person or online and the flexibility of delivering online training courses at learners’ convenience.
But how does blended learning work?
Let’s have a look at the advantages of blended learning and explore why this blended learning approach makes the learner experience better.
The 5 benefits of a blended learning approach
The advantages of the blended learning approach are far more important than one might think, as they affect not only the trainees but also the trainer and the learning process itself.
1. Increase learner engagement
Have you ever wondered why books for younger ages are illustrated? First, it has to do with the comprehension level of the reader. A child is less likely to sit down and read pages and pages filled with text. Pictures make the material easier to understand.
Second, even when the material is easy to grasp, illustrations help learners sink-in the information faster. They also give learners practical examples of the theory.
The same reasoning applies to all types of learning. In employee training, for example, the blended learning approach engages learners through a plethora of different material types. A blended learning course includes video, audio, and visually-enhanced presentations to capture learners’ attention.
The use of various training content types helps also make sure that all material is easily understood – something that is not always the case in the fast-paced environment of a physical classroom.
2. Address different learning style
You might think “and how am I supposed to account for everyone?!”. The answer, as in most cases, is that you can’t always make everyone happy. However, diversifying your teaching methods can help especially when you’re training a large number of people.
Here’s how blended learning benefits both educational and business training environments:
- Reduce time limitations: In a physical class environment, you will often have to get all the information across within just a few hours. Some people, though, might need more time to absorb new knowledge. Blended learning allows learners to re-visit training materials as much as they want and take the time to assimilate information without the pressure of keeping up with the rest of the class.
- Allow for more interaction between learners and trainers: Since learners can practice at their own time, by taking online courses and completing quizzes and assignments, trainers earn extra time to facilitate learning. During their live interaction with learners, they get to answer questions and concerns and ensure everyone has understood the training material.
3. Track training progress and learner performance
One of the reasons why instructors and training managers love eLearning is that it allows them to measure how effective training is. An awesome feature that some Learning Management Systems (LMS) offer is Reporting. And that’s where the benefits of blended learning shine.
Reporting is not only good because it allows for a graphical representation of information found within the LMS: it’s also a good way to have a quick overview of what learners are doing, how far they’ve progressed, and how they score in different kinds of testing methods.
Instructors can experiment with tests, quizzes, and different types of training content, and check what’s more appealing to learners. With this information, they can tweak around how much emphasis they put on traditional types of material in eLearning (such as text and video), and how much they want to diversify using other content types or assessment methods.
This one is probably the most useful of the blended learning benefits, as tracking and reporting make training more meaningful with instructors adjusting eLearning courses according to learners’ progress and performance.
4. Gather and share valuable feedback
Learning doesn’t end when a workshop is over or when a certificate is acquired. Instructors should give feedback to learners to help them improve. And learners, on their side, should communicate any difficulties they may be facing.
Blended learning simplifies and speeds up the way instructors and learners share feedback. To begin with, instructors can review online tests and quizzes and quickly assess learners’ performance without wasting time during the live webinar or presentation. Learning Management Systems provide reports and automatically generated feedback that instructors can share with learners.
This advantage of a blended learning approach is also very important for learners, too. Feedback is the primary indication of their performance and progress. So, being able to see their performance on an online assessment tells them which courses they might need to re-take, what kind of skills might be helpful to develop next, or even reach out to their instructor for additional support.
5. Make learning fun
I can’t stress this enough! Learning is not a one-sided all-serious process. You simply cannot deny that adding an entertaining twist to a course is more likely to increase the engagement level of learners.
Besides, the goal of the blended learning approach is to empower people to take learning into their own hands. Instead of simply giving instructors digital tools, blended learning is about allowing learners to have access to information from anywhere, create their own schedule, and enjoy the process by doing something interesting.
By fun, we don’t mean that learning should be set aside. It’s more about adding interactive content (like presentations that are not just pages filled with bullet-points), or what we call Gamification.
Blended learning is not just another way to train people. It is a learning method that transforms training, as learners have more control over how they get trained, and instructors have more information in hand to improve the process.
So, next time you ask yourself “why use blended learning”, make sure to consider these 5 benefits of this learning approach. And when you’re evaluating an LMS, always test its support for blended learning.
Originally published on: 30 Sep 2013 | Tags: Blended Learning