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Blended Learning: What and Why?

 

Posted on Mon, 02/03/2015 - 16:31

In the ongoing quest for improved workforce training, organizations often find they don’t know where to turn for the best advice. Is it better to outsource or to train in-house? What are the newest tools and techniques for delivering training?

The traditional instructor-led, classroom training model has typically been thought of as the standard for delivering high quality training to learners. However, studies have shown the effectiveness of training has less to do with face-to-face instruction than it does with the design of the course material1.

One thing is certain; companies want more value from their training programs, i.e. better results for less capital outlay. This often means replacing or reimagining the traditional classroom-based training model for new and more creative ways to deliver critical job skill updates. This is where blended learning can benefit both the organization and its employees. When properly designed and implemented, blended learning solutions can improve the engagement level of learners, leading to improved retention and better overall success rates.

What is Blended Learning?

Blended Learning

Take one part classroom training, one part eLearning, a dash of self-study, and add a pinch of on-the-job training. Now shake vigorously. Blended learning, right? Actually, that’s not quite it.

Blended learning is a term that’s often used to describe training programs that substitute at least some part of the traditional or classroom training curriculum with online learning. This can mean using computerized training methods such as eLearning, training simulations, game-based training or any combination of these, in support of the learning objectives.

Often blended learning is thought of as a compromise between delivering classroom-only training, or online training. In fact, the best blended learning strategies use the unique attributes of each method to deliver an optimized learning solution based on the skill or lesson being taught. Instead of contrasting the virtues of instructor-led and eLearning techniques, blended learning combines them into a holistic approach to effective knowledge delivery.

Benefits of Blended Learning

The use of blended learning allows for a greater flexibility in presenting a mix of training delivery styles and options. This means a training course may be preceded by a self-paced assessment of skills, knowledge or aptitude, and the results of this assessment can lead to a more tailored training on an individualized basis.

The result of this approach is less time spent in bringing learners up to the same level in order to teach a necessary skill or concept. For example, let’s say we have a group of customer service representatives who will be supporting a new product or service. Some of the reps have many years with the company and can quickly adapt existing knowledge to the new concept. Others will require some background training in order to learn the new ideas. By incorporating an eLearning assessment and commensurate training module prior to any face-to-face instruction, learners can be brought to nearly the same level of practical knowledge. This is an obvious time- and cost-saving implementation of blended learning.

The combination of traditional training methods with new eLearning techniques can lead to better training value and more effective training delivery. It can also have the effect of engaging learners by providing more stimulating delivery mechanisms such as gamification, serious games, simulations and mobile learning.

Maximizing the Results of Blended Learning

A blended learning program is only as effective as each of the components within it. Simply taking a classroom lecture and modifying it for electronic delivery isn’t the same as developing a computer-based lesson in support of face-to-face instruction. In order for a transition toward blended learning to be effective, it must incorporate the best practices of eLearning, gamification, immediate feedback and the freedom to fail.

That’s where the proficiency of industry experts like those found here at Designing Digitally, Inc. can help. By leveraging our experience at creating the newest generation of eLearning and Gamification training, companies can reap the benefits of cost-savings, increased retention, and employee engagement that blended learning promises. When implemented properly, blended learning can achieve the goals of teaching, supporting and sustaining the skills that workers need in order to be more productive in their jobs.

To see how our expertise can help improve your company’s training delivery program, click here to request a free quote. We’ll design a customized solution that will have your workforce eager to learn and excited about the prospect of attending training.

 


1 U.S. Department of Education - Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies – 2010.