By: Phil Bickerton, @SaxonsLearning
What is blended learning?
Organizations should consider training solutions for their employees, as it can not only develop important skills, but also help staff to stay motivated, maintain productivity, and achieve business goals, whilst staying ahead of the competition.
There are several different forms of training companies should consider before jumping in. Take your time to research and find the best option for your staff and business.
The two most common training methods are face-to-face, classroom led courses (one-on-one or group based) and online training. Often, companies have to decide between the two, but blended learning could potentially offer you the best of both worlds!
Blended learning is a popular method of training, combining sessions conducted in a classroom with training that is run online. Furthermore, blended learning can take on a number of forms, depending on the online-offline balance you require.
The most common blended learning models include:
- The face-to-face driver model – Courses take place in a classroom with a teacher, and digital tools are used to aid the learning process.
- The online driver model –All learning takes place online, however, face-to-face meetings are available upon request.
- The rotation model – This model is a mixture of the face-to-face and online driver models, where online learning and classroom led training are rotated.
- The flex model –A flexible approach where most of the training takes place online, though on-site trainers are available for further tutoring and support, where needed.
- The self-blend model –Training is carried out in a classroom, and optional online courses are available to supplement the sessions.
- The online lab model – All of the training takes place online, though courses are carried out in a consistent physical training location.
The model you choose should depend on a number of factors, such as budget, location and availability of staff during, and the time frame for training completion.
7 benefits of the blended learning model to businesses
Both classroom lead and online training provide many benefits to a business, however blended learning presents the best of both worlds. Take advantage of the classroom environment and face-to-face support from teachers, and still enjoy being able to learn anytime, anywhere, at your own pace. With blended learning, you will often have a training management system, which allows for communication and collaboration with trainers, in addition to providing learning resources.
Here are some of the key advantages of blended learning that benefit both your business and your employees:
- Best of both – Blended learning combines classroom led and online training so you can enjoy the benefits of both. Combine one-to-one time with trainers and the flexibility of online study to achieve the best results.
- Flexible – Blended learning is flexible, as you can access resources as and when you need them via online systems.
- Time efficient – Blended learning allows you to maximise efficiency, as various elements of the training can be done at any time, so they can be schedule around your workload and other activities.
- Motivational – Although learning 100% online provides you with flexibility, it can also be less motivating when you don’t have anyone to share the journey. However, with a combination of classroom led and online sessions, as well as online communities to support the experience, many employees feel much more motivated when it comes to independent learning.
- Interactive – With blended learning, trainers and employees can communicate online, start discussions, and share coursework and other resources. This creates a much more collaborative experience to aid learning.
- Greater opportunities to learn – Employees can use the online training system to view various resources and further their knowledge. If they have any questions, they are able to communicate directly with trainers either online or within their classroom sessions.
- Fit different learning requirements – When it comes to learning, there is no one-size fits all method. It is important to recognise that different employees may have different learning styles and preferences. Blended learning is often a more successful training style, as it allows trainees to leverage the benefits of both online and offline options to suit their needs.
Blended learning in action
An example of blended learning in action is YVILT, a cutting edge training offering which combines communication and collaboration functionality (using Yammer) and virtual instructor led training (using Microsoft Lync).
YVILT consists of 50% live presentations and 50% lab activities, which can be completed remotely. Yammer allows students to ask one-to-one or group questions and discuss the course material. Trainees can interact and engage with other employees on the course, as well as their trainer, for a seamless learning environment.
This blended learning method is an effective solution, as students can complete activities at their own pace, at a time and place that is convenient for them. The virtual training can also be adjusted to suit different group sizes and requirements.
It’s not always appropriate to take your employees out of the office for a day or a week long training session, yet online training on its own may not always provide the level of support and encouragement that is required to make the training a success. For this reason, blended learning is an approach which is worth serious consideration for businesses which are looking into training their staff.
Phil is the Sales Manager at Saxons Learning Solutions, which provides enterprise IT training to Australian companies looking to up-skill their technical staff and end users.