Updated: Jul 16, 2021
Like a smoothie, a margarita, or paint on a canvas, some things are just better when they’re well-blended.
It makes sense, doesn’t it? You take a few things that are good on their own, and combine them to make something even better.
The same approach can be taken with your employee training.
Training may never be as refreshing as a cool blended drink or as beautiful as a painted picture. But by combining different aspects of tried-and-true methods, you can create a blended learning strategy that enhances the employee’s experience and results.
What is Blended Learning?
Also known as hybrid learning, blended learning is a teaching approach that combines online learning with more traditional in-person classes. By using these two methods together, learners benefit from the best of both worlds: they get the ease and convenience of online learning and the hands-on help of an instructor.
Not everyone learns the same way; some people are visual learners, while others need to read through content to retain the material. The good news is, blended learning works for both. By using a blended learning method in your employee training, you won’t alienate learners—you’ll actually improve their experience and their likelihood of training success.
Typically, a blended learning strategy includes three teaching methods:
Instructor Led Training (ILT), which is completed in person.
Virtual Instructor Led Training (VILT), where the course is run online but is led by an instructor.
Self-paced online learning, which can be completed anytime, anywhere by the learner through online courses and isn't led by an instructor.
The Benefits of Blended Learning
For 41% of organizations, blended learning is the most preferred online training delivery method, beating out mobile learning, virtual classrooms, and ILT on its own. The advantages of blended learning reach every part of the training experience:
Blended Learning Enhances Learning Material
Using multiple methods to deliver the same message often makes it easier for the trainee to understand the material, apply it to their day-to-day work, and retain it in the long run. Blended learning is also usually easier for the instructor; instead of teaching in-person all day, they can transfer the appropriate course material to an online platform.
Blended Learning Provides Flexibility
By combining traditional in-class training methods with online learning, employees can learn at their own pace, which gives them more flexibility to learn when and where they want, while still receiving individualized attention with ILT.
Blended Learning is More Cost-Effective
If your management team is a bit skeptical on whether or not a blended learning approach is right for them, know this: Blended learning is typically more cost-effective than traditional in-class training, as companies have to spend less on facilitators, travel fees for training seminars, room rental costs, and more.
Blended Learning is More Efficient
Overall, e-learning takes 40 to 60% less time than on-site training. With that saved time, instructors can make better use of in-person training and give more attention and help to those who need it.
Blended Learning is Customizable to Company Needs
Your blended learning strategy doesn’t have to be 50% online and 50% offline. It’s completely customizable to your team, employees, and goals. Some departments may benefit more from ILT, while others can train completely online.
Blended Learning Increases Engagement
By using multiple training methods with interactive elements, employees will be more engaged in what they're learning. Webinars, specifically, are often used in blended learning to deliver learning materials in a more captivating way—think reading a book versus watching the movie adaptation. Sure, you can imagine how it all plays out in your mind, but seeing it on screen removes the extra brainwork and helps you absorb the message.
8 Ways you can use an LMS for Blended Learning
An LMS (Learning Management System) can help streamline the design, management, tracking, and assessment of your blended learning strategy to improve the employee experience and provide measurable results. Let's take a closer look at what you can do with an LMS:
1. Deliver Content Easily
Instead of having employees log in to separate platforms for their online course, team communications, and ILT course material, you can have it all organized and accessible in one easy spot: your LMS.
Here, you can share course hand-outs, reshare important information, and deliver the courses themselves directly to the employee. Whether it’s one employee or one hundred, it’s always just as easy.
2. Increase Learning Options
An LMS also gives you more learning options that fit today’s modern worker. Gone are the days of training VHSes and manuals; in their place are engaging webinars, audio elements, interactive games, and social learning opportunities.
3. Communicate Quickly and Easily
Through your LMS, you can quickly and directly notify employees of upcoming lessons/training sessions, course schedules, and related updates. You can also use it to notify employees of other courses or sessions of interest to foster a supportive learning culture and encourage them to advance their skills.
4. Prepare Your Courses
Before delivering a new course or training session, some companies conduct pre-session tests for workers to measure their skill levels or current knowledge of the subject. This way, they can customize their blended learning strategies to improve the course material and its level of effectiveness.
5. Develop Learning Paths
By letting each employee have their own personalized learning path, you’re providing more autonomy and opportunity to grow. You can customize courses to help employees cement what they already know or give them more opportunities to expand their knowledge where needed with new materials.
6. Evaluate and Assess
You can not only use your LMS to assess quizzes or exams, but also to assess how impactful the lesson is. At Learning Studio, we provide measurable data you can use to improve your future training courses, instead of leaving you to figure it out on your own.
7. Use Gamification
If one of your goals is to improve employee training engagement, an LMS is your golden ticket. From microlearning and quizzes to videos, leaderboards, and other gamification elements, an LMS can be the difference between employees enjoying and retaining their training, and them dreading it every day and gaining nothing from it.
8. Get Social
Just because your training is online doesn’t mean you’ll miss out on personal connections. Human beings are social creatures, after all—we benefit from being around one another, learning from each other, and helping each other improve.
With the right blended learning LMS, employees can engage, ask questions, get answers, and be involved in discussions just as easily as if the training were in person. Include forums, group chats, social feeds, and dashboards to inspire group discussions and encourage meaningful conversations within your company.
Pick Your Blended Learning Model
Every company will have a different balance to strike with their blended learning strategy. While your company may need mostly in-person training with a dash of online learning, another may primarily use online courses with a brief ILT session.
Here are seven of the most common models of blended learning to help you find a method that works best for you:
1. The Rotation Model: Learners rotate through different modalities—such as online learning, in-class training, and group discussions—on a schedule and all in one location.
2. Lab Rotation: Similar to the rotation model, learners work through different scheduled modalities, except the online learning portion is done in a different location, such as a computer lab.
3. Flipped Classroom: In this model, most of the learning material is delivered online. During the in-person portion, learners put what they've learned into practice or work on collaborative projects.
4. Individual Rotation: Here, each learner has an individual schedule that’s set by the instructor, instead of everyone rotating through the different modalities together.
5. Flex: Online learning is the focus of flex learning, with some offline work as well. Here, the learner has an individual schedule and learning path, but the instructor provides real-life support.
6. A la Carte: In this option, the training course is taken completely online with no in-person training or instructor guidance.
7. Enriched Virtual: This model includes required ILT sessions that are followed by the learner completing the related course online.
What to Look for in a Blended Learning Platform
Seventy percent of organizations prefer to use an LMS for online training. But what LMS is right for your team? And what features can take your training from effective to outstanding?
If you want to make the most of your blended learning, look for an LMS with the following features, which are proven to have the greatest impact:
A Familiar, Intuitive Look
Your LMS’s user interface should be straightforward for everyone, no matter how tech-savvy they are. After all, no one wants to feel frustrated before the training even starts. When an employee signs into the LMS, they also shouldn’t feel lost. Using an LMS that you can brand to match your company will make everyone feel more comfortable and unified.
Instead of instructors and employees having to open up external messaging platforms to communicate, look for an LMS with integrated messaging, or one that has the ability to integrate with your chosen messaging system. This way, trainers and trainees can communicate easily to ask questions, get feedback, send files, and more.
Videos are a core component of many online training courses, but not every training video is created equal. Videos that are five to 10 minutes long are typically the most effective—any longer, and learners start to lose focus. Want to beef up your video training? Include question pop-ups that the user has to answer before the video continues playing. Make them simple, like true or false or multiple choice.
Looking for a blended learning platform that checks all of these boxes, and more? let us do the heavy lifting for you! See our custom elearning course development services.