Blended learning is becoming one of the top learning approaches companies use to deliver employee training programs with.¹ In the corporate world, the term ‘blended learning’ refers to a method of training that delivers L&D programs partially online and partially in a physical classroom space/via live instructor. A blended learning program is essentially a hybrid learning strategy that provides employee learners with the best of both the tech world and the classroom.
eLearning Industry provided a realistic blended learning scenario that could take place in a corporate setting:
“The salespeople of an insurance company are assigned an online learning module on its latest annuity policy. Sales reps complete the module and list their doubts. Then, they attend a trainer-led session, where the doubts are clarified and the product features and benefits are explained in detail.”²
This is a helpful example of how online learning and classroom-style learning can compliment one another perfectly and maximize a company’s training investment by preparing employees to get the most out of live lectures.
Should Your Company Implement Fully Online Learning or Blended Learning?
There are benefits to delivering L&D programs entirely online. But, the benefits of using a blended learning solution are greater for some organizations. Leaders should consider the needs of their employees when considering which mode of learning to adopt. If a workforce is generally tech savvy and prefers to train independently, training delivered fully online could be best. Conversely, if the majority of a company’s employees are unsure of how to use eLearning technologies and desire face-to-face training interactions, a blended learning format will be the better choice. It all depends upon the needs of an organization’s learners/audience.
3 Benefits of Blended Learning in the Workplace
For many companies, blended learning will be the most efficient vehicle through which to deliver corporate training. This is because blended learning provides a human touch that 100-percent-online learning can’t. Also, blended learning is beneficial because it is:
1. Self-paced — Almost all Web-based training can be self-paced, allowing learners to access training resources at their preferred speed and convenience. This may increase knowledge retention as it more readily meets employees’ individual learning needs.³ As a result, companies receive a greater ROI on corporate training.
2. Affordable — Blended learning is often more affordable for organizations than learning that takes place solely in the classroom. eLearning in general is cheaper than in-person learning because it can be recycled and accessed repeatedly by learners. Why Blended Learning is Ultimately Best for Corporate Training stated,
“…the content for eLearning can be updated easily and quickly and cost far less in terms of money than many classroom methods. And don’t forget that the time required to re-train and update the trainers themselves is significantly reduced with eLearning.”³
According to IBM, about 40 percent of classroom-style training expenses are related to lodging and travel.² It’s not uncommon for a corporate training program administered through blended learning methods to be primarily Web-based. This decreases the amount of traditional training involved and eradicates some of the expenses associated with travel to and from in-person training sessions.
3. Easy-to-standardize — Training that is purely traditional (i.e., communicated in a classroom through a live instructor) tends to vary from instructor to instructor and location to location. Because it has an online component, blended learning is easier to standardize. It gets learners on the same page more quickly.
“A good blend of learning formats goes a long way in imparting effective training to your workforce, reducing costs, and extending the accessibility of training.” — eLearning Industry ²
How to Use a Blended Learning Model to Deliver Compelling Corporate Training
Delivering effective corporate training through blended learning can be done in just four steps:
- Create a team of blended-learning administrators
- Ask your admin team and your employees the right questions
- Use technology to support face-to-face instruction
- Make good use of an LMS
1. Create a team of blended-learning administrators — Assembling a blended-learning admin team will ensure a proper implementation of corporate training programs via hybrid learning methods. The group should include a team leader, project manager, eLearning technology specialist, training administrator, and IT architect
2. Ask the right questions — Before you design training content to be delivered through a hybrid learning method, ask the following questions:
- “What types of technology will be needed to deliver this training? Do our users need to be trained in the usage of these technologies?”
- “Will we allow employees to use personal mobile devices for training purposes in the workplace?”
- “Do we have a BYOD policy in place to help manage mobile learning/employees using mobile devices during training?”
- “How interactive will our blended learning courses be?”
To accurately answer these questions, get feedback directly from employees as well as members of your blended-learning admin team. Ask learners what technologies they prefer to use for training and are familiar with, and how interactive they’d like their training experiences to be. Gather this information using polls and surveys.
3. Use technology to support face-to-face instruction — Blended learning is simply utilizing technology to support face-to-face instruction. Here are a few ways to do this:
- Set up an online forum where employees can ask live instructors questions.
- Allow learners to Skype chat instructors pre- or post-training.
- Host webinars that can be attended in real time and recorded for later access by learners.
Have employees “participate in an online scenario or simulation after a lecture, so that they can put their newly acquired knowledge to use. Games, scenarios, and slide show presentations are also ideal online resources,” wrote eLearning expert Christopher Pappas.4
Enable instructors to record videos/audios to be made available to learners before or after a lecture.
4. Use a learning management system (LMS) — A learning management system is designed to deliver and track training administered through a blended learning format, as well as to provide detailed training reports to learning administrators. These reports help administrators tweak L&D programs to better meet the needs of an audience and deliver the best possible ROI on training to a company. A fully hosted, full-featured LMS supports a blended learning strategy by:
- Delivering pre-classroom training directly to employees’ mobile device.
- Enabling learners and instructors to communicate via webinar (web-based seminar), Skype, and real time chat.
- Providing a wide range of training reports to administrators, helping them tailor L&D programs to specific audiences.
- Acting as a repository for training resources that can be accessed 24/7.
- Allowing the use of social media for training purposes.
- Seamlessly connecting systems and applications across entire organizations with LMS integrations.
Why Your Company Needs to Use a Blended Learning Approach to Employee Training
Blended learning packs a powerful punch of benefits for companies and employees because it…
- Standardizes training across organizations.
- Is more cost-effective than traditional training.
- Has a self-paced element that meets the needs of individual learners and increases a company’s ROI on training.