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Over the years, the blended learning model has gained popularity due to its benefits over traditional models. As a result of the pandemic, all learning moved online, and while companies and employees realised the benefits of online learning, people craved a return to face-to-face interactions.  

Fast forward to 2022, and although Covid restrictions are a thing of the past, the landscape has changed. More companies provide flexible and remote working opportunities, making it more challenging to arrange traditional classroom training. The solution? Blended learning programmes.  

Read on to discover more about the blended learning model, the benefits of blended learning for you and your employees, and the best practices for creating blended learning programmes. 

Blended Learning – what is it?

Blended learning combines traditional classroom training and online learning methods to provide a seamless learning path. Typically, blended learning programmes will commence with some form of online learning, such as an activity to be completed before a face-to-face training session. The time in the classroom can then focus on deepening the understanding and developing strategies for applying the new knowledge and skills in the workplace, concentrating on individual circumstances and challenges. Such programmes may also include additional group or one-to-one coaching to support learners further as they apply what they have learnt. 

There is a wide range of blended learning approaches, and what is best for the company and its employees will differ. If you’re unsure what kind of blended programme would work best for you, we will be more than happy to discuss your individual requirements with you. We can then recommend a programme to help you achieve your learning and development objectives. 

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The benefits of blended learning

1. Return on investment

Integrating eLearning courses into your blended learning programme reduces the time and financial cost of organising a venue, delivering the training, travel, accommodation, and printed training materials. 

However, the benefit of blended learning is that participants will also benefit from instructor-led programmes, which increase engagement and knowledge retention. 

2. People have different learning preferences

It is common knowledge that different people learn in different ways. Using a blended learning approach makes it easier to design a programme that meets the learning needs of more people. 

By ensuring you provide development opportunities that are consistent with their learning preferences, they will enjoy learning more and are more likely to retain that learning and apply it in their day-to-day role. 

3. Flexibility

The number of employees working remotely and with flexible hours has increased. Additionally, people may struggle to take time out due to current workload demands. Finding a date that the group can agree to seems impossible.  

Self-paced eLearning, as part of a blended learning programme, enables learners to study the material at a time and location to suit them. So ultimately, this model allows employee and training development to happen around their employment without interfering with their duties

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4. Learners can control the pace of their learning

We all differ in how we consume content; therefore, people learn best when they can control their learning. Learners can consume the self-paced material as quickly or as slowly as they need to. They can pause, rewatch the eLearning and dive deeper into particular topics to help improve their understanding. Unfortunately, in an instructor-led training session, the pace is often set by either the faster or the slowest leaner within the group.  

We all differ in how we consume content; therefore, people learn best when they can control their learning. Learners can consume the self-paced material as quickly or as slowly as they need to. They can pause, rewatch the eLearning and dive deeper into particular topics to help improve their understanding. Unfortunately, in an instructor-led training session, the pace is often set by either the fastest or the slowest leaner within the group.  

5. Increases engagement

Blended learning programmes provide much more variety in the learning, which increases engagement. Providing self-paced eLearning prior to an instructor-led session should help ensure the group is on a more level playing field to discuss their learning and experiences and contribute more significantly to the classroom sessions. Faster learners become less bored, and slower learners feel less overwhelmed. 

Research also shows that learning is improved further by combining activities alongside eLearning, and combining passive and active learning increases intrinsic motivation 

6. Blended learning is scalable

Whether you are a large company, or a small company, and you wish to role the same training out to many of your employees, adopting a blended learning approach is equally as valuable. Less time and cost are spent organising and delivering multiple instructor-led training sessions, and it can also be rolled out to employees globally with ease. 

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Best practices for effective blended learning

Blended learning can be daunting if you haven’t used it before. So, here are some blended learning best practices to get you started.

1. Use multiple delivery methods

Many people think they can just show a presentation over Zoom or Microsoft Teams, and employees will immediately learn the information you are throwing at them. Well, unfortunately, that’s not the case.  

 You have many online tools at your discretion. Use them! Introduce quizzes and Q&A sessions, create group projects, and get everyone to have discussions about the topics. Make the delivery of your course fun to aid employee development 

2. Use instructional videos

One of the most impactful mediums that can be used is videos. So, pre-recording videos that showcase you discussing the topics of the course is a fantastic way to break up the coursework. It can also be a resource for struggling learners or individuals who want to refresh their memories before taking a test.  

3. Set expectations

Before the training session starts, provide staff members with clear expectations of what they should and shouldn’t do while participating online. For example, they should ensure their cameras are on and take notes.  

Something that is often missed by companies arranging blended programmes is ensuring that everyone has access to the relevant hardware. Those of us who use technology daily can often forget that those in non-office roles may not own a laptop or desktop computer. 

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4. Take frequent breaks

As blended learning sessions can potentially require employees to view screens for long periods, we recommend you have a break every hour or so. This might slow the training session, but it keeps employees from switching off mentally. So overall, it will improve engagement levels and your return on investment.

Even those learners who enjoy binge-consuming eLearning should be encouraged to get up and move away from their screens regularly. 

5. Review and make edits

Regularly review the material and consider whether there are any amendments to keep it up to date so that learners find it valuable and engaging. Gathering learner feedback at regular stages throughout the programme and following up with learners three to six months after the programme will provide a rich source of information to help you review and improve.  

If you’d like to provide more learning programmes but don’t know where to start, contact us to discuss how we can support you. 

If you want to learn how investing in people can aid employee training and development, you can read the article here.

Published 7th July 2022.