Blended Learning: What are the Best Practices?

Designing Digitally


Blended Learning Practices

Corporations have more options than ever for the training of their employees. Some choose to stick with the more traditional classroom-type model, while others have gone totally digital.

But it seems the best results are coming from an approach that blends the two together. The U.S. Department of Education conducted a study and the results were interesting. The assumption by many is that, in this digital age, education that is solely focused on eLearning would garner the best results.

The outcome of the study showed that the students who were exposed to a blended learning approach, utilizing face-to-face instruction and online learning, outperformed their peers who were focused solely on one or the other.

Best practices

Knowing that a blended learning approach is the most effective way to educate and train employees, here are some best practices that will encourage the highest level of efficacy:

  • Pinpoint learning objectives first. Have a clear idea of what the desired outcome is before any other planning takes place. Without a concept of what skills need to be acquired, it will be difficult to progress any further in the planning process. The learning objectives need to be tied to the strategic business goals of the organization.
  • Determine the best approach for each component. Once the learning outcomes are identified, the next step is to decide which information will be best relayed via face-to-face instruction and which will be more effectively accomplished digitally. For example, simulations are best for immersing the learning in the process of performing a task, while group activities are done face-to-face.
  • Evaluate and assess periodically. This goes for in-person learning or online. The process of receiving timely feedback is a major factor in the retention of knowledge. When working through the digital components, be sure that there are regular checkpoints along the way. Face-to-face evaluations can happen by observing employees as they interact with peers during a training session, or can involve actual quizzes or tests over the material presented.  Assessment is a required component for determining that learning objectives are met.
  • Keep the lines of communication open. Be in conversation with learners. Find out how they feel about each aspect of the training program. Ask them what they feel is effective and what isn’t. This feedback can be used to make necessary adjustments in the course or program. There is the added benefit that the employees will be more engaged when they have a sense that their opinion has value.
  • Build a sense of community. Utilize the powerful benefits of cooperative learning. Encourage learners to work collaboratively with each other and make them feel as if they are working toward a common goal. Foster dialogue about the content, in both an online format via discussion boards, as well as in-person conversation.
  • Diversify digitally. Make sure that any of the eLearning portions of the training module are available across any devices, including laptops, smartphones, and tablets. One of the advantages of eLearning is the flexibility to engage in activities at any time or any place. Be sure to provide this flexibility to the learners.

Use these guidelines as a driving force to create a blended learning program that employees will benefit from and will result in positive gains for the company!

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