Educational institutions and corporate training teams alike have embraced the idea of blended learning – a training approach that combines the use of classroom instruction with the possibilities of online learning. Some of the benefits of a blended learning approach include:
- Establishing foundational knowledge prior to in-person sessions
- Conducting meaningful conversations (online and in-person)
- Reinforcing learning objectives
- Strategically addressing learning needs
To achieve these benefits, time and effort is required from instructional designers. Blended learning isn’t just a simple breakdown of 50% online content and 50% in-person. A well-designed blended learning program involves planning and careful consideration.
Use these suggestions to guide your creation of a blended learning program:
Let learning objectives – not delivery mode – dictate content
When you begin to create a blended learning program, focus on the end result: what should learners be able to do at the end of this blended learning program? Learning objectives should inform the content design, rather than the mode of delivery dictating the content. Whether the content is delivered online or in-person, focus on creating opportunities for participates to interact and engage –with the content, with the instructor, and with each other.
Develop integrated content
One benefit of blended learning is the ability to integrate content across online and in-person courses. You might begin discussing a topic during a workshop and follow-up in an eLearning course with more information and a few activities to help participants practice what they’ve learned. Likewise, when eLearning is used as pre-work, students can explore a topic and bring specific questions when they meet with a coach, mentor, or in a classroom setting.
Establish learner roles and responsibilities
In order for a blended learning solution to be effective, you need to be clear about the learner’s responsibilities. Before participants begin the program, explain the relationship between the in-person and online content—how do the various modules connect? Learners need to understand the framework in order to complete content as designed. It also helps learners if you explain why you’re using a blended approach and how this blended experience serves to benefit the learner.
The variety, flexibility, and independence of blended learning solutions provide educators and training professionals with numerous options to create amazing content. As we become a more digital society these blended programs help us embrace the changes and adapt our content to meet the needs of today’s digital learner.
Let us know what you think the elements of a successful blended learning program are in the comments!
Liz Sheffield is a freelance writer with a background in training and development. She specializes in writing about everything related to the human side of business. You can contact her via LinkedIn or Twitter.