What is Blended Learning?
Blended learning is an educational approach that combines digital or online learning with traditional physical classroom coaching. The objective of blended learning is to improve learning outcomes by bringing together best practices of both online and offline learning.
Online learning offers the learners the flexibility of going at their own pace without any restrictions of time and place. Additionally, online learning leverages technological innovation and interactive media, including games, to aid the learning process that helps in better understanding and knowledge retention. Technology has made microlearning or bite-sized learning feasible by breaking down lessons into smaller chunks for better comprehension and retention.
Online learning complements physical classroom sessions in a blended learning model. In-person learning in physical classrooms has its own advantages, such as live interactions and immediate query resolutions. In-person classroom teaching also helps learners stay focused and increase their attention span as they are being supervised.
Blended learning has seen an adoption increase in education institutions, which got further accelerated after the COVID-19 pandemic.
A similar trend was also observed in corporate learning, with COVID-19 pandemic disruption making office out of reach for most employees and work-from-home (WFH) and hybrid work environments becoming the norm.
Benefits of Blended Learning:
- Uniform learning
Blended learning is suitable for both fast and slow learners. This mode of learning offers a uniform experience and equal opportunities to all learners. The learning model enables learners to leverage personalized and customized learning paths to suit their learning style and pace.
- Broad-based learning and feedback
Blended learning enables learners to tap into the knowledge and expertise of others beyond their instructors. The discussion board and Q&A forum enable learners to get quick feedback and response to their problems. Instructors can also leverage data from the Learning Management System (LMS) to assess learners’ progress and engagement. This enables Learning and Development (L&D) professionals to offer individualized attention and support to learners based on their progress.
- Cost-efficient learning
Classroom training may seem to be a better option when compared to investments in online learning, but the benefits of using an LMS outweigh the cost. The flexibility enables employees to save productive work time, travel costs, and repeat sessions without any extra cost to the organization. Additionally, the scalability of blended learning makes it cost-efficient, compared to classroom-only training.
- Engaging and fun
Blended learning with an online component gives employees autonomy and control over their own learning. This leads to higher engagement and completion rates. The gamified learning experience makes learning challenging and fun, which further improves employee engagement.
Blending Learning Models:
Blended learning enables L&D professionals to personalize the learning experience for a diverse group of employees. Personalization can be done based on time considerations, learning techniques, and individual preferences.
Some of the most used blended learning models are as follows:
The model refers to traditional instructor-led training sessions facilitated through technology. The learning happens online, with instructors and learners logging in to the session through webinars or video conferencing platforms, such as Zoom. The model replicates the prevalent traditional classroom learning, laminating the need for physical space.
The model offers the benefit of classroom learning like mentoring, personal guidance, hands-on practice, and instant feedback. Besides, the technology-driven model provides instructors with additional data points to improve learning outcomes.
- Flipped model
In this blended learning model, instructors give learners training material and presentations in advance, before the class. The objective is to give learners time for self-study, so that they come prepared to the class for active learning through problem-solving and understanding the practical application of theoretical concepts. Such class sessions are led and coordinated by learners within instructor supervision and guidance.
- Hybrid learning model
Hybrid learning refers to the synchronous learning that teaches learners in a physical classroom, and the same session is streamed to online learners. Hybrid learning models enable learners who are unable to attend physical classes to take advantage of live learning with the help of technology and collaborate with instructors, in-person learners, and other online learners in real-time.
Hybrid learning leverages technology to create a classroom experience for learners who are not physically present in the physical classroom. It also helps democratize learning by giving access to learners who otherwise couldn’t be accommodated in physical classrooms for various reasons.
Blended learning in corporate training:
Blended learning can be applied in different situations, such as academia and corporate learning. However, the objectives and the models of blended learning may vary between academia and corporations. Some factors that work in favor of blended learning in corporate training are as follows:
- Return on investment (ROI)
Blended learning reduces the cost of in-person classroom training without compromising on the quality of learning or outcomes. The model reduces the cost of travel, accommodation, and printing course materials. It also limits the loss of productive employee hours by providing flexibility to learners to schedule the sessions as per their convenience. You also have the option to roll out the courses globally, overcoming geographical barriers and divide. The technology-enabled blended learning model brings together learners from different cultures and backgrounds on a common platform that strengthens the corporate culture.
The blended learning model offers flexibility in terms of scheduling courses based on employees’ convenience. The employee also has the flexibility to moderate the pace of learning based on their own learning capabilities, leading to better understanding and higher knowledge retention. This flexibility gives employees autonomy and control over their learning, giving them a sense of empowerment.
The technology-powered blended learning makes the process of learning exciting and engaging by leveraging gamification for course design and development. The gamified learning experience leads to higher employee engagement and better outcomes.
Blended Learning in Corporate Training: Case studies
- Boeing: Creating a relevant learning experience
The aerospace company Boeing wanted to improve its capture team leader (CTL) training to closely align with the work that the business development role performs within the organization. The company wanted to redesign the course to reduce classroom time, better prepare participants for the role, and reduce dependency on experienced CTL for lectures.
Boeing creates a blended learning model with eight web-based training lessons, which were to be completed by the participants before attending in-person classes. The live sessions provided participants with the opportunity to learn how to apply the knowledge they gained in real-world situations. The blended learning model found favor with participants who rated it 4.5 out of 5 in four areas.
The blended learning method can be implemented across different learning areas and courses. If you would like to get professional help to implement blended learning as part of your corporate learning strategy, then you can contact us.