No matter what type of course or training event you are conducting, including blended learning...Read More
No matter what type of course or training event you are conducting, including blended learning methods, can significantly enhance your course. Both for you and, more importantly, for the participants. By matching the blended learning design and methods with your subject matter, you can improve participant engagement and the quality of instruction provided.
A blended learning model is an instructional approach that combines different delivery methods or learning environments. The best delivery method is matched to the learning activity for that specific content. For instance, blended learning examples include combining online and in-person learning in a course.
Blended learning is also known as hybrid learning and web-enhanced learning. It’s a relatively new trend in the corporate training world, but blended learning has quickly become one of the most popular methods for delivering instruction to employees. As you will see below from the blended learning examples provided. But, firstly, what are some benefits of blended learning, and how can it help you innovate the training in your organization? Let’s take a look at this question in more depth!
The many benefits of online learning are well known and include
While the online parts of the learning provide many benefits, what are the specific benefits of offering a blended learning course?
A blended learning approach provides ultimate flexibility in presenting content. The subject matter and learning outcomes determine which parts are delivered in-person or online.
Complex topics are broken down to enable enhanced learning. For example, learners can study challenging aspects online and then convene in-person or in a virtual meeting to understand some of the subtleties of the topic. Or, at an in-person/virtual meeting, they can discuss, practice, and apply the theory they have learned online. Such as practicing a technique, examining case studies, or role-playing depending upon the subject matter. These are all examples of blended learning.
Through various interactive online methods, an instructor can provide lots of feedback to learners. But having face-to-face sessions enhances the input that can be given on essential aspects of the course. Particularly for topics where the learner has to apply behaviors or techniques that they’ve learned.
Engaged learners, increase their comprehension. One common type of blended learning example is the ‘flipped classroom.’ This is where learners study the theory remotely and practice what they learned during in-person/virtual meeting sessions with instructors. So, learners may watch videos, access online resources, or complete formative assessments ahead of class time. And instead of the meeting time spent listening to a lesson, it is spent actively practicing skills. And getting hands-on training from instructors. This enhanced engagement increases comprehension and retention.
Because face-to-face learning focuses more on interactivity and direct feedback with the learner, it can result in a more personalized learning experience. Instead of instructors focusing on regurgitating theory, they can spend more time focusing on specific learner needs.
“In studies contrasting blends of online and face-to-face instruction with conventional face-to-face classes, blended instruction has been more effective.”
US Dept. of Education, 2010
While there are benefits of blended learning, there are also potential constraints to consider, including the following:
Blended learning is a highly effective way to deliver training. It combines all the benefits from online training but enables you to create enhanced learning for complex subject matter, or that requires a high degree of application. It means that you can design training of complex concepts and skills using techniques matched to the subject matter. Increasing engagement, decreasing the time to learn, and ensuring that the training is consistent, standardized and convenient for the learner.
The primary rule for using blended learning in your training is to align your content and subject matter with the action you are trying to achieve. The best way to illustrate how to do this is by providing examples. So below, we have several blended learning examples. Each with an example of how to include blended learning in 3 different scenarios: internal training, external business training, and training provided by non-profits, social enterprises, or government agencies.
“The primary rule for using blended learning in your training is to align your content and subject matter with the action you are trying to achieve.”
Traditionally this type of training would be a standalone event, completed in a ½ or 1-day seminar. For example, an employee orientation or a forum.
Traditionally employee training for a new coworker would often be conducted one on one in person. This is resource-intensive. The training was usually inconsistent since it often depended on the person conducting the training and their preferences.
Instead, there are several examples of blending learning with a brief in-person meet and greet. For example, the new employee could receive an email each day over several days, and each email containing information or a link to a video or other resource. This is commonly known as a ‘drip course.‘ Or the email drip course could be replaced or augmented with an Articulate Rise course to provide more detailed instruction, answer essential questions, and provide reference resources. A third blended learning example could be a series of welcome and instructional videos with references to your organization’s intranet site that contains reference information and policies.
But what are some blended learning examples if you are running a business seminar program? For instance, on how to file and complete a regulatory document. Traditionally this would be a full-day seminar where the attendees learn the background first and then practice completing the regulatory document. Instead, you could have the attendees complete an on-demand course that explains the principles behind completing the task. Then the participants could meet (in-person or in a virtual meeting) for a shorter session focused on practicing completing the task. That way, the instructor can focus on addressing specific issues that the individuals have.
Another blended learning example is to do the entire course online. But still using a variety of learning techniques. You could have an on-demand course for people to learn the principles of the task. And to create this course, you could use footage from a previously recorded in-person seminar. Then one option would be for the attendees to submit their completed regulatory document to the instructor for assessment and feedback. And to enhance the outcome for the attendees, you could host ‘ask the expert live virtual sessions.’
What if you are a non-profit, a social enterprise, or a government agency? How could you innovate your one-day seminar? Let’s look at some blended learning examples to provide education to the parents of children who have mental health challenges. And your focus for the session is to teach these parents how to use mindfulness to help their children.
There are many blended learning options in this situation that you could consider using. For instance, you could run an in-person seminar (or create an on-demand course) but then follow up with a series of ‘drip emails.’ These emails could be daily or weekly and could include reminders of tips to try out.
Or, you could hold a virtual drop-in mindfulness group. At these, you could review progress, respond to questions and introduce new mindfulness techniques. And finally, you could also develop a mindfulness app with more tips and techniques and links to additional resources.
Group or cohort-based training programs often cover several sessions where a group of participants learn together. Blended learning examples for an internal training focus, an external focus for business, and one for a non-profit situation are below.
Organizations often offer management or leadership training for their employees. To increase their skills together high potential employees are selected to form a cohort. Typically, these are multi-week programs that follow a traditional academic-like structure. For example, they have regular in-person sessions, homework, group assignments, and then report to the larger group.
But, by blending learning, in-person sessions can be enhanced. For instance, hold peer discussion groups online. Or have on-demand online modules. Or use simulations for topics like finance and operations. And there could be virtual office hours where the instructor and/or mentors are available to provide personalized input.
While there are many blended learning examples for cohorts, there is often a common mistake that instructors make. The learners need to have a good understanding of the overall instructional plan and where it leads. And how that fits into the overall learning path, they are on. Often this is obvious for the instructor, who can take it for granted. But, with several components for a course, it can be challenging for learners to fully appreciate the expected learning outcomes for each stage and how they all fit together overall.
Now let’s take the situation of a business that sells training to individuals and other companies to improve virtual presentation skills. While traditionally, this would have been an in-person workshop or multi-session series, it’s clear this would be a great candidate to include online, blended learning examples.
While you could still include in-person sessions, there may be no need to at all since you have many options. Parts of the course could consist of on-demand learning modules. These could include interactive videos of sample presentations where the learner has to identify errors or deficiencies in the virtual presentation they watch. And you could design several interactive elements throughout the series to provide ample feedback to the learners.
For instance, you could record the learners making virtual presentations to the group (or a sub-group), then provide feedback on those. Or have members of the cohort provide feedback. And you can then give the recorded session to the individual for them to review and enhance their presentations for the future. In these blended learning examples using peer coaching and feedback circles is a great way to provide advice. And it also reinforces concepts for each individual in the group providing the feedback.
You’re a community group or social program that periodically holds a series of sessions to motivate and educate groups of people to create change. Examples could include climate action initiatives, supporting the health and welfare of youth, or advocating for human rights. These are emotional workshops interspersed with practical information. And the participants are usually highly motivated. But these events are often logistically challenging to set up and administrate. And often, participants’ motivation is high at the session, but wains significantly after the workshops are completed.
But there are many blended learning examples you could include in your design. Ones to help participants take action after these in-person events. For instance, you could create a community for continuing online discussions, where the participants and mentors help one another over a much more extended period. And/or you could include a series of drip-fed additional resources, tips, reminders, and new info that maintains the level of motivation. And that reinforces the learning from the workshops.
As well you could have follow-up video sessions, on-demand learning, or virtual webcasts. Also, if you really wanted, you could replace the initial in-person workshops with on-demand modules, which include motivational videos and interactive elements. In this way, you can reach a larger audience, more geographically spread out, and without the logistical headaches of setting up an in-person series of workshops.
Certificate and similar training programs often require the learner to complete many topics while demonstrating their proficiency at each stage. The learners complete the course based on their individual progress and not on their assignment within a group or cohort.
Blended learning examples for three different scenarios are below.
Your organization has a set of operational procedures that you require your manager or other skilled workers to complete. Perhaps this is part of their progress to a new position or responsibilities. You could achieve this either by hosting an in-person training session, or as an on-demand online training session.
There are additional examples of blended learning activities you could do to make things more exciting and embed and reinforce the learning. For instance, you could provide challenges or games. One organization we know had learners find errors and ‘bugs’ such as out-of-date procedural information. Prizes were awarded to participants with the most ‘bugs’!
Another fun but very engaging activity is to host a hackathon. The learners complete the on-demand course first. Then in groups in person or online using collaborative whiteboards and other tools, they develop ways to improve a specific process.
Or have a ‘feature Friday’ where you send learners information on features of different operational processes each week. This could be in the form of a drip email. Again, reinforcing the learning in a new way. But each learner must know what they have completed and what they have left to complete. So, create a map of the requisite topics they need to cover and show their progress over time.
Many organizations offer certificate programs in software training. And pretty much all of these now are online. And that’s great, but it’s essential you blend the learning. The last thing anyone wants is to listen to a talking head on a pre-recorded webinar to complete a long list of modules for your certificate.
One of the neat things about some authoring software, such as Articulate Storyline, it is excellent to create on-demand courses for software training. It’s straightforward to record your screen as an instructor as you demonstrate various aspects of a software application.
You could also offer to host a virtual session as a refresher for completing some tasks in the software. Or have the features of the application presented to participants at a virtual conference. This also allows participants to ask detailed questions to explore the software further.
Throughout the course, you will want to include structured exercises to get plenty of actual practice with using the application. And to complete the certification throughout the modules, and at the end, you will want them to conduct assessments to prove their mastery. And most importantly, have mechanisms to provide feedback to those with challenges in any specific areas.
Perhaps you have an Academy for Sustainable Environmental Practices? Or maybe you have a program with a series of modules related to self-care or treatment of a particular disease or healthcare issue? And you require that learners achieve a specific level of certification. What are some of the blended learning examples you should consider?
In all likelihood, you have an on-demand course or are creating one. This guides the learner through a series of modules. To reinforce concepts and to test for comprehension, you’ve already included several knowledge checks and quizzes along the way. So, what else can you include to blend the learning and make your course more engaging and instructionally sound? An example could be to have a series of challenges for the learner to complete. In completing them, the learner could videotape themselves completing an assignment. Then the instructor assesses the video submission and provides feedback. Or you can have a mentor or peer group of learners providing the feedback and coaching. WeVu is a great tool to help facilitate this.
No matter what type of course or training event you are conducting, including blended learning can significantly enhance your course. Both for you and, more importantly, for the participants. And using blended learning allows you to more effectively match your subject matter with the outcome you are trying to achieve. And as you can see from the blended learning examples provided, there are many ways to consider designing your course to improve participant engagement and the quality of instruction offered.
Spark + Co has worked with over 60 clients since 2007, providing custom online courses. We help businesses, non-profits, and government agencies to achieve their training goals. Need to create custom online training? Perfect, that’s what we do, and we’re ready to help. Book an initial consultation now, send us an email, or find out more from our website.