Though hybrid and online models of learning have been around for long, the COVID-19 pandemic escalated the speed of their adoption significantly. By approaching learning as a completely blended experience where the virtual component is at its core, companies and organisations can create programs that have a bigger impact and continue long after the session has ended. Additionally, such learning is flexible, letting companies and organisations blend the correct components to meet their learning goals.
Types of Blended Learning
Blended learning could involve:
- Synchronous learning (either online or in-person)
- Independent learning
- Social learning (in groups and/or pairs)
There are various ways to blend multiple elements to make these learning sessions engaging. For instance, in-person workshops can be used with video learning sessions or webinars. The key is to customise the learning modules to help learners better understand what’s being taught or discussed, thus letting them implement those lessons in their real-life work.
What Makes Blended Learning Tick?
In the quickly changing world of work, blended learning programs are becoming the leading mode of professional development. The chief reasons that make such programs work so well are:
- They are cost-effective with better ROI: The cost of some in-person learning programs includes travel expenses that make up almost 40% of the cost. By taking their learning programs online, companies and organisations can save significantly and even improve their return on investment (ROI).
- They are spread over a longer period: Did you know that seven days after a training session, employees typically forget almost 65% of what they have been trained for? This aligns with what the Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve says about humans losing their memory of acquired knowledge over a certain period unless it’s reviewed regularly. Companies and organisations can overcome it by extending their blended learning programs over a longer period, thus allowing repetition that’s essential for learning.
- They suit diverse learners: Companies and organisations have learners who learn differently from each other. While some may prefer the auditory mode, others could prefer visual or kinesthetic learning. Since blended learning uses a blended approach to meet the different needs of diverse learners, they are more effective for companies and organisations.
- They have a better reach: By merging various learning modes and formats, blended learning expands its reach. While online sessions let the learners interact with their peers and instructors, personalised, hands-on activities help them learn based on the environment and experiences they are exposed to. Again, by logging into a centralised portal, learners can learn at their own pace and from anywhere, even when on the move, without being shackled to their desks or limited by geographical boundaries.
- They have better engagement: By using different media types and formats, such asvideo, audio, animation, text, graphics, gaming, etc., blended learning can make complex concepts fun and easy to understand. This makes learning more immersive, engaging, and contextual. For instance, a sales training session can supplement class lessons with simulated games where the learners get to apply their acquired knowledge in virtual, real-time settings to get a first-hand experience of what works and what doesn’t, and even learn from their mistakes. Such diverse formats and activities help learners become more engaged with their lessons. And with regular reviews and repetitions, they’ll be able to retain the knowledge better and apply it in actual situations successfully.
- They are more flexible: Compared to synchronous learning alone, blended learning offers learners more control and flexibility about when and where they can fit learning into their schedule. For companies and organisations, the flexibility lies in choosing the right format to deliver the right content. Instead of depending solely on video, app, or in-person sessions, various platforms and content formats can be blended to deliver every single element potently.
- They let newly-acquired skills and knowledge be applied to work: You can’t acquire new skills or habits overnight. They take time and need practice. It takes almost 66 days to completely establish new behaviours or habits. When you’re made to cram a lot of information by attending a one- or two-day event, you won’t form new habits because you wouldn’t have adequate time for the application of what you have learned. The same doesn’t happen with blended learning sessions though. They allow time for new skills to be established and habits to form, thus paving the way for their successful real-life application. As a result, they have been found to be more effective.
Whether companies and organisations want to train their employees for technical skills, soft skills, or any other skill set their jobs need, blended learning is the way forward. Apart from saving considerably on expenses, like travel and accommodation costs, printing costs, material storage costs, etc., companies and organisations will also benefit from better learning outcomes from their training investments, thus enjoying a better ROI.