Practical Guide to Blended Learning
What is blended learning
There are just so many wonderful learning experiences to try out, sometimes it’s impossible to pick just one. The good news is that we don’t have to. Let us introduce you to Blended Learning.
In very simple terms, blended learning is a way of mixing different learning methods together as part of the same programme.
Blended Learning example
Imagine you have to prepare a six-month-long program for leaders to help them become better people managers. A major obstacle for most participants is their lack of time. They are usually swamped with work and can hardly spare a whole day attending a classroom or virtual training. This is usually a good starting point to consider blended learning. While some of the material will always be better delivered in live training, some of it can be ‘outsourced’. What you can do in this case is create fewer and shorter training sessions, backed by 1-on-1 coaching, online courses, on-the-job projects, and peer mentoring. This way you decrease the amount of time away from work and incorporate learning into the day-to-day activities of the participants.
Pros and Cons of blended learning
Pros of blended learning
+ Learner-centric approach that allows freedom to explore the topic
+ Learners can develop while performing their daily routines
+ Programmes can be scaled across multiple locations
+ Some parts of the program can be accessed at learners’ preferred pace and time
+ Adds an interactive element to the learning program
+ Stretches time for learning to accommodate learners’ schedules
+ Instructors and designers can collect feedback throughout the program and improve it on-the-go
+ If done right, can utilize most, if not all, adult learning principles
Cons of blended learning
- Requires self-discipline and motivation
- Can be time-consuming
- Relies heavily on technology and technological savviness
- Design and implementation can be more complex and time-consuming
Types of blended learning
Blending can happen on a number of levels. Here are the most common ones:
Mixing together different tasks in the course of the same activity. Example: learners receive a handout with partial information about the topic. They then need to listen to the facilitator and fill in the blanks in their handouts.
Mixing different types of activities in a course. Example: during a course, learners are asked to access a video online or do some research, talk to specialists, have a discussion and even do a role play.
Mixing different types of learning events within a program. Example: a learning program that asks learners to attend a training, a panel discussion, work on a project, get 1-on-1 coaching, etc.
Several institutions or corporate organizations work together towards a common goal of upskilling learners. Example: a business partnering with a university to create a learning program exclusively for the employees.
How to create a blended learning program
Blended learning is about a very delicate balance. It’s like how you mix different ingredients to cook a dish – too much of something, and the whole meal could be ruined. Here are our 4 tricks for ensuring your blended learning program tastes just right!
Tip 1: Learning objectives
Firstly, you need to be very clear on the learning objectives and the preferences of your learners. If you are preparing a program for people who aren’t comfortable with technology, virtual reality simulations probably aren’t going to be super effective! You need to have a very detailed list of learning objectives and preferences because they will largely dictate what methods to use.
Tip 2: Picking the right learning methods
Each learning preference responds better to certain learning experiences. For example, Reflectors like personality profiles and 360-degree feedbacks. Pragmatists prefer teambuilding activities. The learning objectives should tell you what content to include in your program, while the learning preferences – what activities would be best.
This way, if you are preparing a program for managers on interviewing skills, the learning objectives will tell you to include content on things like:
types of questions,
listening skills, and
And the learning preferences of the participants should tell you whether you should use problem-solving exercises (Pragmatists), role-plays (Activists), reading articles (Theorists) or job shadowing (Reflector).
Tip 3: Learning experiences flow
The third trick is to work out the flow of the learning experiences. Is it better to first have a classroom session and then have people work on a project together? Or is it better to send them a link to an online course and then they come in for a discussion? There are no clear rules for this – it will depend on 3 things:
your learning objectives,
the preferences of your learners and
the adult learning principles.
But even if you get everything the way you think would be best for your group, there is one more trick we would suggest you pay attention to.
Tip 4: Collect feedback
And that is to collect feedback – often and religiously. This is the only way to ensure that you are doing the right thing for the right people at the right time.