Before understanding why it works and which its benefits are, we first need to give a solid blended learning definition. So, what is blended learning? It is a training approach that combines different learning techniques.
In the standard educational model, blended learning often refers to the use of laboratory equipment or computers to complement the class sessions and strengthen the teaching process through practice and the application of theories learned in class.
In the world of eLearning, the blended learning approach refers to the complementary use of eLearning in the standard education model, due to the benefits it offers on a broad scale, to name a few, self-paced learning, testing and quizzing, monitoring and feedback.
How does this approach make the user experience better? Let’s have a look at the blended learning benefits that justify why it’s an effective learning approach!
The 5 Most Important Blended Learning Benefits
The advantages of this method 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) Learner is more engaged using a variety of content types
The reason why books for younger ages are illustrated is rather simple. A child is much less likely to sit down and read pages and pages filled with text. Firstly, we take into account the comprehension level of the learner, and realize that pictures will make the material easier to understand. Second, in the instances that the material presented is easy to grasp, the illustration is oftentimes a good way to help the learner sink-in the information faster. Another good way to have that effect is presenting the learner with practical examples of the theory taught.
To achieve engagement, the blended approach in learning uses a plethora of different material types. Video, audio and visually enhanced presentations are included in a blended learning course design to help keep learners engaged and, also, to 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) Different learner, 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 is a good way to approach the issues that arise when you offer an online course to a possibly large amount of individuals from all over. This could not be more true for the traditional training model as well, whether we are talking about a classroom full of students, or a business training environment.
Blended learning complements both environments and helps all types of learners in various ways:
a) Time is always an issue in a physical class environment: you will either be restricted by a one or two-hour limit and getting all the information across is sometimes a trivial task. Especially when facilitating understanding is of essence. Blended learning allows trainees to take information home and have their own time to assimilate it without the pressure of keeping up with the rest of the class.
b) Quizzing and Testing online allows for trainers to have more time to educate in the physical classroom environment. It earns the trainer extra time to facilitate contact with learners and answer questions, address concerns and make sure that everyone’s issues are being resolved.
3) Instructor can assess learner trends and act accordingly
As advanced as technology may be, some things are just not doable in the physical education environment, and that’s where the benefits of blended learning shine.
Two of the many reasons that eLearning is very appealing to instructors is that it allows updating and tweaking of material on-the-fly. An awesome feature that some Learning Management Systems (LMS) offer is Reporting.
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, how they score in different kinds of testing methods, amongst others features.
By trying out different methods of testing, quizzing, and even different types of material, a professor has the ability to tweak around how much emphasis they give on traditional types of material in eLearning (such as text and video), and how much they want to diversify using other types of material or testing methods.
This one is probably the most useful of the blended learning benefits, as it helps training become much more meaningful in practice, with the eLearning process being adjusted according to the learners’ progress.
4) Improved feedback
Blended learning greatly affects the way feedback is facilitated. To begin with, by testing and quizzing online, as mentioned above, the trainer has the time to arrive to conclusions about the learners’ performance without wasting valuable time from the class. Blended training allows for feedback to be prepared from home, and then, harvesting all the benefits of blended learning, the trainer can provide it to learners in the physical environment, simply by using information from within the Learning Management System, in the forms of a report or automatically generated feedback.
This advantage of blended learning is also very important for the learners, as feedback is the primary indication of their performance and progress. So, the trainer needs to make use of both the right tools and blended training methods to prepare feedback, in order to assess learners’ performance, spending as little time as possible.
5) It can 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 the material is more likely to increase the engagement level of the learners.
By fun I don’t mean that learning should be set aside, but the combination of the two, by using different and more interactive material (like presentations that are not just pages filled with bullet-points), or what we call Gamification. The end-of-day result should be to allow the learners to have access to information from anywhere, effectively empowering them to take learning into their own hands, create their own schedule, and enjoy the process by doing something interesting.
Thus, the importance of blended learning as a training approach does not only show in words, but it’s more prevalent on the learning process itself, as well as the learners. So, next time you ask yourself “why use blended learning”, make sure to consider these 5 benefits of this approach and when you’re evaluating or choosing an LMS, always test its support for blended learning.
Let us know how you integrate different training methods with your LMS. How does fun mingle with learning, and it is eLearning the appropriate medium to deliver both effectively?