The Top Three Benefits of Implementing Blended Learning in L&D
Blended learning is the combination of traditional, in-person learning strategies with online interactions. Virtual learning has become more commonplace over the last few years and leveraging blended learning can be a great way to maximize ROI in this newfound virtual environment. With the switch to hybrid and remote work teams, it’s a great investment for organizations to make.
It’s also incredibly effective and has many benefits. Here are just a few:
- Spaced-out learning helps with knowledge retention. Blended learning is easily broken up into smaller chunks that can be spaced out over time. It’s more digestible and better helps learners to retain the information.
- Malleable for the needs of the contemporary learner. Blended learning offers the ability to learn on-the-go. Instead of a classroom style with a week-long schedule, you can offer employees a company-provided app that allows them to log in to complete smaller bite-sized learning. It also allows employees to access learning content as soon as they need it.
- Better, more efficient use of the learner’s time. Blended learning places more focus on reinforcing learning styles with instructors through hands-on activities, like role-playing. You can say goodbye to long days spent only in a classroom. Learners today want to choose what’s on their learning menu, not passively receive content in the strict format of a classroom.
Let’s talk about the types of blended learning you can implement at your organization. Take some time to consider which is best for your company so you can adapt the models below as you’re building your training program.
- Rotation Model. This versatile model utilizes both face-to-face instruction and online study. It’s likely the model most L&D leaders are familiar with. Learners will complete an online module and then participate in an in-person, or virtual, group activity with colleagues.
- Flex Model. This model focuses on online instruction with only small groups or specific learners participating in face-to-face instruction. If using this model, you might consider offering face-to-face training for those in need of more support or scheduling regular group sessions for learners. You can encourage a more social learning environment by having learners collaborate with each other on their online lessons and in-person sessions.
- A La Carte Model. This model offers online instruction only but in a physical classroom. Instructors may record lectures or offer virtual support to their learners through internal forums, email, or chat services. For example, learners would partake in video calls with their instructor at a specific time and then complete their training experience through a class or workshop.
- Enriched Virtual Model. This model focuses on in-person learning which is supplemented with online resources after the in-person sessions with the instructor are complete. If implementing this model, you should also offer online materials as this lets learners study more on the topic outside of the classroom.
Now that you’ve decided which model is best for your organization and know the benefits are well worth it, let’s look at best practices for implementing the model.
- Utilize feedback you’ve collected at the beginning and continue to track metrics. Using 360° assessment tools is a great way to research what development skills your employees need. If skill developments are discovered after quarterly performance reviews, you can offer personalized feedback for individuals or create a course that addresses the skill gap for an entire group. Don’t save 360 assessments just for the start of a program, you can also use them to measure how employees are performing post-training. Offering continuous learning can help address future gaps and help reinforce knowledge.
- Be intentional with the technology you leverage. When you’ve landed on the areas of focus for your L&D programs, it’s time to lay out the experience for blended learning. It can be easy to get distracted from the main learning objective with all the new and exciting learning technologies that are available — like augmented reality and chatbots. Before looking into these technologies, make sure you’ve accurately addressed the problem you’re looking to solve and asked yourself if it will help employees with more efficient learning. Consider cost and time before investing in any.
- Level-up active learning. An important part of self-paced blended learning is the opportunity to participate in online or face-to-face discussions. Research conducted by the University of Texas at San Antonio found that the best blended learning practices use active learning as an integral component of learning engagement and course design. Additionally, the interactive discussion and prompt feedback with peers or instructors are key for student engagement.
- Microlearning for the win. One advantage of blended learning is the ability to space out learning in smaller chunks, also known as microlearning. If you’re looking to help enhance performance, forcing employees to learn skills that aren’t immediately applicable to their jobs is not the way. Blended learning offers your employees exactly what they need when they need it.
- Focus on curation, not creation. External content curation is a key factor in modern blended learning experiences. L&D teams today don’t have the time to create week-long classroom sessions themselves. Instead, they’re choosing to utilize external content created by subject matter experts — like the Vayability platform — to supplement learning.
- A new and improved learning environment. Blended learning extracts classroom work to hone in on role-playing, discussion, and practice sessions. Simultaneously, innovative technologies can refresh the classroom portion of your program. For example, augmented and virtual reality offer new, immersive experiences to “learn by doing” in risk-free environments.
- Connect with coaches, socially. Peer-to-peer social learning in the workplace accounts for 75% of informal learning. Learning from mentors or coaches on the job isn’t new, but the social media tools and online discussion forums available today have magnified this style of learning.
The blended learning concept isn’t new, but the technological advances and evolving needs of the workplace have contributed to changes. Today, L&D professionals have access to an array of tools that allow them to evaluate employee needs, design and curate holistic learning experiences, and evaluate the program’s success. Incorporating blended learning into your organization can help eliminate the need for more expensive retraining programs and create a work environment where learning is integrated with work.