This term crops up quite often when you are familiar with (online) training, specifically in a school or company setting. The meaning is not always clear-cut, as is its execution. Why is that? There is a difference between the didactical theory of blended learning and the actual use or implementation of blended learning.
Let’s start with the definition(s): what is blended learning?
From a didactical perspective: it’s blending or mixing several types of instruction so participants can learn using the most suitable didactical strategy. This definition does not consider whether the course uses online technology to create or distribute the course topics.
From an organization perspective: it’s blending or mixing face-to-face training with online courses, webinars, or Q&A sessions. Typically, there is a big emphasis on the balance between the face-to-face and the online part of the training.
In 2005, Oliver & Trigwell researched blended learning and found that the most used definitions of blended learning are the following:
A combination of traditional school education and online teaching
A combination of tools en media in an online training environment
A combination of didactical strategies, regardless of the technology used
Blended learning versus hybrid learning
Let’s get right to the point: blended and hybrid learning are not the same thing. Yet these terms are often mixed up, which is actually quite logical because in both forms of learning, there is a mix between online and offline learning. So it makes perfect sense that this creates confusion. But there is also a big difference. In blended learning, you use different online and offline forms of work. Often the online work forms are time and place independent. Participants can complete these online assignments whenever and wherever they want. In contrast, hybrid learning involves a single session, such as a presentation, which participants attend both physically and online.
The benefits of hybrid learning
Are you dealing with a target audience that is spread across different places in the country or even around the world? Then it is very convenient if you can use a hybrid form of learning to reach everyone.
The disadvantages of hybrid learning
The biggest challenge of hybrid learning lies in engaging offline participants. How do you make these people feel included? In addition, when performing certain tasks, it is good to think carefully about how the online participants can also complete them.
How does blended learning work?
So how does it work? What is certain when it comes to blended learning: the result is a mixture of didactical learning tactics and used technologies. The instructional designers or learning architects design the course and decide on the didactical methods used. Then the course is chunked into smaller segments and a decision is made on which technology to use and how to distribute these segments. In our blog about online training, you can see the steps on how to implement the technology.
The benefits of blended learning
First, the focus is on the participant. The online part of blended learning allows them to develop where and when they want. This autonomy makes the participant more motivated. Then there are the advantages for the organization that can save a lot of costs and still have full control over the training courses. We have listed the benefits for both below.
Benefits of blended learning for participants:
With digital modules, participants can learn at their own pace and convenience.
The variation of different ways of learning and different stimuli will ensure a better understanding of the content. This way the learning program takes every type of learner into account.
It’s fun! During the physical training sessions, there is interaction with other participants and instructors. You can also choose to stimulate learning in the flow of work. This way, the knowledge is immediately applied on the work floor.
You’re meeting everyone’s needs, some people prefer learning at their own pace digitally, others prefer the physical interaction to properly understand new information.
Benefits for organizations:
Save costs and time and be more efficient. It reduces the cost of physical training sessions because trainers do not have to deliver the same training over and over again to a select group. With online training, you develop the course once and then you can distribute it to an infinite number of people. You can also save on travel costs, accommodation, and printed aids.
Less traveling and printed learning material are more eco-friendly and encourage sustainability.
It gives participants autonomy and responsibility in the learning processs, this results in a higher learning engagement
With the right tool, you are in full control of your blended learning program. Start tracking and managing online and offline courses from one central point.
Blended learning examples and best practices
We already discussed the different forms of blended learning. There’s not just one example in which it can be applied.
Curious to find out how other organizations implement blended learning? Read these customer cases:
Blended learning: tools to create a learning program
If you want to start creating a blended learning program, you can look for a tool that supports your strategy. Will you choose a combination of face-to-face and digital learning? Look for a tool that supports both ways. Think of a platform where you can easily create groups of participants. On the one hand, you can create schedules or waiting lists for this group and invite them to register for the physical training sessions. On the other hand, you can easily create online modules and make them available as preparation for physical training or reference work. And just like that, the face-to-face training courses and digital modules connect perfectly. All the information is saved in one place and the results and progress can be monitored on one learning platform.
If you are looking for a combination of tools & media in an online environment, an e-Learning platform with predefined learning formats can be extremely useful. this way, you can easily mix several predefined learning methods. On top of that, such platforms mostly also facilitate distribution and users’ follow-up.
So if you want to get started with the creation of a these programs, look for the right tool that fits your strategy. This will not only make it easier but also ensures higher quality.
Blended learning strategy: how to implement blended learning?
There is no quick tip to set up a blended learning strategy for your organization. Make your decisions with the intended result in mind. How do you want participants to learn: is it important to get peer feedback? Is it necessary to perform role-play? Is it better for participants to learn self-paced or learn from exercises with real-life situations online?
This process will guide you to make the right choices for the course’s learning strategy and for the selection of tools, media, or infrastructure.
Blended learning solutions
FLOWSPARKS blended learning solutions:
Combine multiple tools and media
Organize online and offline training
Choose different didactical strategies
Are you wondering what would be the best solution for your organization? Let’s start the conversation and find out what blended learning strategy fits your goals.