Chances are good that your memories of learning anything as a child are dominated by rows of desks and, depending on your generation, endless worksheets or boring, cookie-cutter activities on the computer. It’s also a good chance that when they hear the word “training,” many of your employees are remembering the same type of scenario. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are many benefits of blended learning in the workplace. Here are eight of the best.
What is blended learning?
Blended learning combines traditional, instructor-led learning with independent computer-based learning. It's not a new concept in education, but it provides a welcome and sometimes much-needed antidote to a recent approach to training that's only focused on computers.
Instead, it simply blends the best of both approaches.
Blended learning vs traditional learning
Traditional learning in an instructor led, face-to-face model certainly has its benefits. When led by a skillful teacher, traditional learning can address the particular needs of each person in the class. Additionally, face-to-face instruction has a social aspect to it. Participants can work together in real time to have important discussions that solve problems.
Trouble is, not all instructors are created equal. Everyone can remember that instructor who simply droned on, didn’t answer questions, and created a classroom atmosphere that was stifling to creativity. And face-to-face instruction isn’t always possible when your employees are spread across time zones.
Blended learning vs eLearning
eLearning solves the problem of multiple time zones and is a convenient way to deliver information to employees at all hours of the day and night. Materials are also always available to refer back to when needed.
But some students prefer to learn with the guidance of a professional in their field. In some cases, self-led eLearning may result in some employees neglecting their training or finding loopholes to a program that indicates they did the activities but didn’t really get any benefit.
What are the benefits of blended learning in the workplace?
Blended learning can solve the issues that both traditional learning and eLearning face by combining the best of both approaches.
In the case of blended learning in training and development, the “traditional” aspects of instructor-led learning can be delivered online in real-time through live meetings and lectures, too. Likewise, employees may get a foundation for a topic with an eLearning course and then exercise those skills in a live simulation with an instructor.
Here are eight benefits of blended learning (and two blended learning limitations).
1. Blended learning saves money
In terms of loss of productivity due to employee time spent in the classroom and development of online classes, blended learning can save money on both.
While an eLearning consultant may cost money up front, there are few (if any) consumable materials to reproduce for employees. This can be a valuable way to reduce the costs of routine and infrequently changing topics, such as employee onboarding. It may also be helpful as resources for processes or information that doesn’t often change.
But, by using an expert instructor for rapidly changing topics, courses can be changed more quickly or as needed instead of completely overhauled.
2. Blended learning saves time
Time for employee training is at a premium, with employees having an average of just 24 minutes per week to spend on training. Blended learning uses online modules to deliver information while also scheduling sessions with instructors to answer questions, check in, and track learning.
A high-quality LMS can track employee progress, both online and at in-person check-ins. Blended learning benefits employees as they consult with each other during the day and apply what they have learned online.
3. Blended learning can be fun
Some employees will resist traditional training in a conference room with every fiber of their being, but will happily embrace the work they do online. Likewise, some employees who are reluctant to engage with online learning activities may find themselves completing them more easily when they know a group discussion will follow.
While it’s hard to develop training that all employees will embrace, this offers both types of learners (those who thrive online and those who prefer traditional trainings) something they are comfortable with.
4. Blended learning increases the effectiveness of your training
Because concepts can be learned online and then reinforced in a face-to-face setting, difficult concepts are more easily assimilated and digested by employees.
This is due to the variety of approaches that blended learning utilizes. Not all employees learn information in the same way, and the wider net of blended learning catches more fish. More effective trainings equal more competent and empowered employees who want to stick around (which goes back to the #1 benefit of blended learning!).
A good example of this benefit of blended learning is when training soft skills. While it’s true that soft skills training is best done in person with lots of practice, a “take-home” online learning module can reinforce concepts discussed face-to-face, providing simulations and opportunities for practice away from the eyes of colleagues. For employees who struggle in this area, this balance can help them learn and practice without judgement.
5. Blended learning can be self-paced
Not everyone works at the same pace, and the same is true for trainings. We have all gotten lost taking notes in a classroom. Blended learning virtually eliminates the chances of that happening. Employees can move through the online portion of the program at their own pace and get reinforcement or ask questions in person during live meetings. It’s a win-win for balancing busy schedules, employee preferences, and pace of learning.
For very technical courses, self-paced learning opportunities is a major benefit. Busy professionals can read more or refresh their knowledge as they are able, with specific details or troubleshooting reserved for the instructor-led portion of the course.
6. Blended learning is easy to track
It can be challenging to collect feedback from an in-person employee training. Self-reporting in the form of surveys is notoriously unreliable.
With an LMS that tracks employee activity and task completion in online courses, however, the efficacy of blended learning in the workplace is more easily measured and tracked, and you can also use it to gather feedback.
7. Blended learning can be customized
While an instructor-led training has to take a scattershot approach to certain topics, combining it with online courses offer a unique opportunity to customize trainings to meet employees exactly where they are in terms of skills and knowledge.
This saves time and money and keeps employees engaged.
8. Blended learning is flexible
Lecture moving too fast online? Hit pause. Employees having trouble getting a concept in one particular module? Discuss it in the next face-to-face session. Whatever your employees’ needs are, blended learning is flexible enough to meet them.
Of course, there are some limitations of blended learning. Without buy-in at the top, no training program will be successful. And truthfully, creating the perfect blended learning employee training takes skill that may not yet be in house.
Both of these limitations can be overcome. If you are ready to explore the benefits of blended learning for your company, give EdgePoint Learning a call to get started!