Blended learning is a combination of digital learning and the more traditional classroom learning approach. The goal is to provide a more flexible learning experience by combining the best of both worlds. Learners benefit from the guidance of in-person learning while they gain the freedom to take some of their learning experience outside of the classroom.
Classroom training still has its place in the modern workforce, but it shouldn’t encompass the entire learning experience. The key is to leverage in-person training with interactive media that provides the learner with multiple access points so they can access the materials at their own pace.
We will explore the benefits of blended learning and then walk through the best practices for creating a top-quality blended learning experience.
Benefits of Blended Learning
One of the biggest benefits of a blended learning approach is that it delivers a more relaxed experience. Rather than adding even more stress onto the worker, they are able to take on the bulk of the learning on their own terms. The in-class element serves as their guide, but they retain control over how they access the majority of their learning materials. This approach fosters greater long-term development and growth since the learner is not held back by narrow delivery methods.
Finally, blended learning reaches a much wider audience since the custom learning experience leverages multiple digital platforms. This efficiency makes it a cost-effective solution.
Best Blended Learning Practices
Here are some tips to create the best custom learning experience by incorporating a blended learning approach.
1. Start By Identifying Objectives
As with any new endeavor, you need to start by defining the goals of the custom learning program before creating the content. Here are a few questions that need to be addressed:
- What skills does the course need to teach learners?
- What information must be included?
- What tools will be used to deliver that information?
The answer to these questions is your guide through the process of creating the entire learning experience.
2. Create a Course Outline
Outlining the course keeps everyone on the right track. It gives the learner a guideline as to how they should progress through the course. However, a course outline also benefits the facilitator and developer. The facilitator has the guidelines laid out, so they can gauge the progress of the course. Developers are able to ensure the right information is provided at the right moments.
A blended learning outline should include all learning objectives, required deliverables, and deadlines that hold the learner accountable. This outline should also detail participation requirements and highlight all the primary instructional methods.
3. Determine the Level of Interactivity
One of the best features of a blended learning course is that you can determine exactly how much of the learning course will be interactive. By this point, you will have your objectives in writing so use this information to determine how much learning can be done digitally and how much will need to be done in-person.
Assess each learning module individually to make this decision. Also pay close attention to demographics because they play an important role here. Older audiences might prefer the traditional in-person approach. On the other hand, younger workers will be comfortable with digital learning.
4. Provide References Materials and Resources to Assist Learners
Since a large part of blended learning is done on a digital platform, you can provide valuable resources to assist learners. Links to videos, articles, and other vital information can be made conveniently available.
This gives learners access to information that supplements their learning experience. It also saves them time since they don’t have to do their own research.
5. Assess Learners’ Progress
Accountability is a key aspect of creating a blended learning experience, so you need an assessment plan. The goal is to provide learners with the opportunity to identify areas where they can improve.
A common approach is to end each module with a recap that draws attention to the most important point in the lesson and then follow that up with a quiz. However, blended learning opens another approach. You can let your in-class instructor engage learners to make sure they have learned the content. This can be done with in-person tests or with one-on-one meetings with the instructor.
Finally, be sure you incorporate a system that allows learners to leave feedback. This is usually done in the form of surveys. Feedback is then used to improve the course.
6. Sprinkle in Group Activities
Group interactivity is a powerful component for any custom learning experience. Learners share their knowledge and benefit from the experience of their peers. So you want to incorporate social tools in your blended learning strategy.
A popular choice is to use a social media platform to create a group that allows learners to ask questions. You can also create chat forums on a corporate website. Whatever access point you choose, just be sure that it’s promoted in the learning material, so learners know how to access it.
7. Create a Solid Support System
A support system gives learners access to the facilitator and outlines what they can expect from that access. You don’t want to tie the instructor to the course 24/7 so it’s important to set expectations. Lay out detailed guidelines for how learners can communicate with a facilitator when they have questions. Also, be sure to detail when they should expect a reply so that instructors are not bombarded with messages. For instance, instructors require 24 to 48 hours to respond to emails.
Final Thoughts on Blended Learning
You’ve discovered several blended learning strategies that will take you a long way on your journey to creating the best learning environment. But there are even more strategies you can use.
Creating a custom learning experience through blended learning is quite complex, especially in the beginning when you’re putting it all together. But it’s also one of the most effective learning strategies so it’s worth the extra effort.
If you’re struggling with blended learning, then contact Beyond the Sky.