Blended learning, the mixture of instructor-led and digital training (such as eLearning), has been around for as long as there have been computers but can still seem foreign to many organizations. In the past year, however, many companies have embraced virtual work and learning, and now is the perfect time to take out the blender and use it on your training efforts!
The Benefits of Blended Learning
Blending instructor-led training with digital approaches such as online materials, eLearning modules or gamification, can have a significant benefit for training programs. Using multiple modalities not only reaches more learners but can help improve training outcomes. A traditional instructor-led class works well for a lot of learners, but organizations have a diverse workforce. For a training program to be successful, it must reach the entire audience of learners.
Trainers have been blending delivery within instructor-led sessions to reach multiple learning preferences for many years. Learners are now more prone to retaining information provided through technology, so adding digital training to the curriculum is a great way to reach them.
Another benefit of a blended learning approach is that it can make content more appealing and interesting. When topics are required but uninteresting to learners, blended learning can help make them more interactive. Take, for example, compliance training. Using online modules that include gamification can make an routine topic come alive for your learners.
Perhaps your organization needs to train employees on possible suspicious activity for anti-money laundering (AML) compliance. A blended approach might consist of an ILT session introducing the importance of AML and then an online game where learners play detective and research transactions. This format can make the content more appealing and strengthen retention.
Implementing Blended Learning
To reap the benefits of a blended learning program, training organizations must first create a plan on how to incorporate multiple modalities. Creating random eLearning modules or online games will not hit the mark; blended learning must be strategic to achieve the best results.
Training teams should examine their content and identify areas of opportunity to digitize the training. For example, is there an in-person system training that would be more effective as an interactive eLearning module? Identifying these opportunities will help the learning and development (L&D) department focus its blended learning efforts where they will be most impactful.
When examining the curriculum, here are a few questions the training team should consider:
- Is this training something that could be made reusable in an eLearning format?
- Is there an opportunity to create more interaction through digital modalities?
- Which topics lend themselves to self-paced modules?
Think about a smoothie that is made in a blender: Some ingredients taste great when mixed, and some do not work well in the smoothie. Effective blended learning strategically combines multiple ingredients (modalities) to create the tastiest smoothie. With this approach, training teams can design content for the modality that best fits the subject matter.
The Return on Investment
While creating and maintaining blended learning can take time, it is well worth the effort. First and foremost, blended learning reaches and engages more learners Better engagement leads to better retention and assimilation of knowledge. Organizations with better trained employees will see better quality and increased production.
Blended learning approaches can also decrease the ramp-up training time for new hires. Bringing on new employees can be time-consuming, and the more quickly they become productive, the better for the organization.
Blended learning also makes content readily available for continuous use. Employees can access online modules, quizzes and learning aids whenever they need them, aligning their learning experience with their day-to-day work and making it more efficient.
Incorporating blended learning also enables trainers to focus on key topics or themes during face-to-face interactions. If learners can consume part of the curriculum on their own, it frees up classroom time for more complex topics requiring interaction with the instructor. Blended approaches that use multiple modalities can increase the collaborative learning experience among peers, too.
Using a strategic blended approach ultimately benefits the organization’s bottom line. In an increasingly digital world, it makes sense to look for opportunities for blended learning. Implementing a blended approach helps an organization take stock of the ingredients in its curriculum and blend them to provide an impactful learning experience.