Even before the COVID-19 pandemic sent everyone to their home, and in-person training evolved into Zoom links, blended learning was making headlines. In-person and online learning together is the best of both worlds, right? It definitely can be — but only if both the in-person and digital elements are well-made.
Blended learning relies on eLearning courses that can deliver stronger training outcomes. But, how exactly does eLearning factor into blended learning, and how can you author effective online courses for the blended environment?
The Role of eLearning in a Blended Learning Experience
Blended learning experiences combine in-person, instructor-led training (ILT) with online, digital elements — usually, an online classroom, digital reference materials or similar virtual elements. But, what about incorporating full eLearning courses into a blended learning experience? Rather than providing supplementary digital materials alongside instructor-led training, you can use eLearning courses to create an interactive, multidimensional experience. When it comes to blended learning, eLearning courses can:
- Remain available for learners to review even after ILT is over. While learners can review their notes and any static resource materials shared after the course, an eLearning component enables them to experience parts of the training again rather than simply viewing it.
- Provide strong visuals for concepts that would be challenging to convey with words alone. In an ILT session about operating heavy machinery, the instructor would have to describe the different buttons, levers and functions of the machinery in detail. What happens when learners enter the machine and realize that the mental picture they created based on the presenter’s explanation was wrong? A short eLearning simulation would enable them to see the machinery and provide “hands-on” practice before going into the field.
With these benefits in mind, it’s also true that you shouldn’t use technology in blended learning just for the sake of doing so. Your learners are likely already juggling several technical tools. The last thing they want is another platform or tab in their browser that doesn’t provide the value it promises.
4 Tips to Create eLearning Courses for Blended Learning
Let’s say you are creating a blended learning program to improve managers’ communication skills. Here are four tips to keep in mind when creating the eLearning portion of the blended course:
1. Play to the Strengths of eLearning
Add a spark to your eLearning courses with interactive elements, such as drag and drop, sliders and dials, labeling and sorting, and audio review. For example, you could use audio review to show three recordings of managers providing feedback and then have learners identify which was most effective and why.
2. Create Scenarios That Empower Learners to Practice
Use learning games and scenario-based learning to empower team members to confront challenges and solve them in a no-consequence environment. For example, create a scenario in which the direct report receives constructive feedback from his or her manager and responds in a negative way. Then, challenge the learners to respond to that negative reaction effectively.
3. Provide Comprehensive Explanations of Any Answers Provided
The eLearning portion of a blending learning course is, by definition, not led by an instructor. Since learners won’t have the instructor there to ask questions, the course itself needs to cover all of the bases, which means providing the reasoning behind all answers. Why was “be straightforward when providing feedback” the correct answer? Why was “elevate your voice to match the tone of your employee” incorrect?
4. Use Micro-courses to Draw Attention to Key Skills and Information
Microlearning courses are hyper-focused on one specific topic and can supplement the blended learning environment with additional information to make sure learners don’t forget the most important information. For example, alongside your comprehensive management communications training, you could create a micro-course that focuses on providing constructive feedback.
The tips you implement will depend on your unique blended learning scenario. After all, eLearning is a tool that helps you deliver the most value for the least disruption (which is why you’re converting your fully instructor-led training to blended learning) — but only if you design your courses so that they pack a punch. This process will look different for every organization, so it’s a good idea to work with an eLearning development partner to ensure you’re enhancing, rather than just expanding, your blended learning.
eLearning courses shine as the digital side of a blended learning environment. Learners can retake courses, practice skills and even experience the information that the instructor is speaking about first hand. However, if you don’t create these courses effectively, they will simply be another task on the training radar. Use these four tips to create eLearning courses that add value to your blended learning experience.