Learning professionals are currently faced with several challenges, including competing demands on learner attention, exploding amounts of data available at the touch of a button and the pressure to keep learners focused on the specific needs of their organizations. Blended learning offers a framework to put the right content in front of learners, keep their attention and improve their performance.
Blended learning programs differ based on the learning needs of the organization, learner readiness and the amount of time employees can devote to learning. Recognizing that learners may not always be ready or able to learn on a specific schedule, blended learning can offer a balance of instructor- and self-directed learning.
Determining if Blended Learning Is Right for Your Learners
Blended learning is a combination of more than one learning modality to meet established learning goals for a specific audience. In most cases, blended learning includes online components and live or virtual classroom experiences. Here are a few common blended learning configurations:
- Online training for prerequisite material and classroom training for new material and workshops
- Online sessions for remote employees, a classroom format for in-person training and team building, and online component for on-demand learning and support materials
- Classroom (in-person or virtual) with online platform use throughout to support the new content presented in the classroom
There are several considerations to make before embarking on blended learning. The first step is to determine if blended learning will meet your organization’s learning goals. If you can answer “yes” to three or more of these questions, then blended learning could be an effective learning solution for your organization:
- Are your learners geographically disbursed?
- Does the content require context and preparation before learners can apply it effectively?
- Are you being asked to make more of an impact with a decreased training budget?
- Could your learners benefit from completing online assignments and then applying them in the classroom?
- Does your audience need access to refresher materials?
- Do you need to track learner metrics such as completion, performance and engagement?
Getting Blended Learning Right
If you determine that blended learning is right for your organization, the best practices listed below will help you start on the right foot. Keep in mind that blended learning allows you to integrate different delivery methods within an overall training curriculum.
- Create a learner-focused experience. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes, and then ask yourself if you find the training you are designing valuable.
- Don’t use technology for its own sake. Make sure online training components contribute to the overall success of the learning program.
- Engage your audience. Design valuable elements in the learning experience such as check-ins or touchpoints, social learning, gamification, real-world “missions,” and assignments.
- Don’t try to cram too much into the online portion. If you would find the learning boring, repetitive or a waste of time, then your learners will, too.
- Provide clear transitions from one modality to the next. Provide a continuous experience across different channels within the overall learning program, so learners are clear about next steps.
According to a 2018 report from Technavio, the global corporate blended learning market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 11 percent from 2018 to 2022 – almost $18 billion in incremental growth. This anticipated growth in blended learning is not unexpected. Blended learning enables organizations of all sizes and in all industries to decrease the costs of their training programs while, at the same time, improving their quality.