Blended learning — a beautiful union of instructor-led and online material. It is truly a match made in instructional design heaven, as each has issues the other can solve. It takes the best of both worlds and throws that old mentality of the “one-size-fits-all” learning approach out the window along with tube TVs and printed textbooks.
Heart Eyes for These Blended Learning Benefits
It’s safe to say we’re not the only ones who are head over heels for this training method. Blended learning is one methodology that has caught fire in all aspects of education. You would be hard pressed to find an elementary, middle, or high school that isn’t incorporating blended learning models into their curriculum.
And we love it in the corporate training world for the same reasons: It increases learner engagement up to 59% (source) and improves accountability and adaptability. If you haven’t already thought about incorporating a blended learning program in your learning department — jump on in! The water is perfect!!!
BUT… be warned!
Creating a blended learning program is not just a matter of arbitrarily throwing some online activities or a web-based component in the middle of an instructor-led course. A truly effective blended learning approach requires careful and thoughtful design. All elements need to be purposeful, engaging, and complementary — much like the perfect relationship!
Fall in Love with a Blended Learning Program — Here’s How!
To implement blending learning effectively and efficiently (to the delight of both learners and business partners), ensure you are taking the following steps:
- Get your business partners to embrace the plan — Blended learning is good business. More engagement means a higher quality of learning, which means a more competent employee and a better return on investment. To get your business partners on board, check out this article for 5 Reasons Why Blended Learning Is Ideal for Corporations.
- Help your instructors fall in love — Your instructors will make or break a blended learning approach. Not only do they need to be completely comfortable with the types of technology incorporated in the program, they should also be able to shift seamlessly between their roles as content providers and learning guides. They are the masters of ceremonies and responsible for integrating all components of the learning smoothly. Invite them to be a part of the process! Instructors often have some great insight to offer for redesign efforts.
- Determine objectives and desired outcomes— As with ALL learning, you must clearly determine your objectives and desired outcomes, then align which outcomes are best served by which approach.
- Choose the technology of your dreams — Things can change quickly in the technology/software arena. With so many inexpensive and user-friendly tools available now, there is little need to invest a lot of time and/or money. Don’t get too caught up in creating the technology components and making things more complicated than they need to be. But do think outside the box! Think push versus pull…can learners use technology to create instead of consume to meet some of your learning objectives?
- Determine level of “purposeful “online interactivity— You never want to create busy work. Every component added should have a clearly aligned objective. Say you just found a great template for a fun online Bingo game — GREAT! That does sound fun. Now lay it against your design to see if it will help you meet a specific goal or objective.
- Communicate (clearly) your heart’s desire — Because of the varied components in a blended learning program, it is extremely important that all learners understand exactly what they need to do at all times. You don’t want to discover at the end of a 30-minute, self-guided activity that half your participants misunderstood the instructions.
- Welcome adoration and feedback— With any new approach you introduce, always invite and welcome feedback. We should never assume we have all the answers. In the learning industry, we should be continuously evaluating to ensure we are “green and growing,” not “ripe and rotting.”
By checking these steps off your list, your learners and business partners are sure to swoon over your next blended training!