The Benefits of Blended Learning
This way of learning offers a range of benefits ranging from its inclusivity to its efficiency. In this blog, we will look at some of the positives of using Blended Learning as a training approach.
In any learning intervention, the end goal is to create learning transfer and ultimately a change in behaviour and/or mindset. Blending Learning in some respects is spaced learning; there are several studies that suggest that exploring content, allowing some time to pass and then revisiting the same content , increases the amount of knowledge retained. Ongoing, learners are layering knowledge, applying ideas, practicing and gaining feedback on an ongoing basis which allows them to develop a deeper and long-lasting learning experience.
Access to Experts
Bringing learners together in one physical place to benefit from in-company or external experts can be costly and time expensive. In a Blended Learning programme, you can get creative in how you would bring the experts to the learners. For example, the online aspects of a Blended Learning programme could help facilitate having a guest on a webinar or a motivating video, which learners could watch in their own time. Also with the virtual platforms and video conferencing facilities now available, experts can be used in real time to virtually meet with learners sharing ideas and participating in Q&A.
The nature of a well-designed Blended Learning programme is that learners can access their learning from anywhere. Even if there are some Face to Face (F2F) workshops, they tend to be in the minority, with most of the learning being done remotely.
This means that employees who don’t work at head office or a main hub can still be fully involved and don’t miss out on the training due to the learning being held in a single location. While there are lots of Blended Learning programmes which still offer plenty of opportunities for live, physical classrooms, remote learning is on the rise. Virtual Workshops where learners can share ideas and practice skills together no matter where they are in the world offers an inclusivity that F2F can sometimes struggle to accommodate.
A major benefit to a Blended Learning programme is how it can be designed so that some of the learning can be done when it suits the learner. These programmes blend a mix of synchronous (events are occurring in a certain time order that can be predicted) and asynchronous (no time order and unpredictable; events can, and do, interchange). Some of the programme will be at a fixed point in time, where people come together to learn. But other aspects of the learning, such as assignments, mini projects, reading, watching videos and e-learning can be done at a time that suits the learner. They can choose when and where they want to do it, be it in the evenings or during their commute, whatever time of day works best for them.
Blended Learning can be flexible in other ways too. For example, some are less strict in terms of the actual learning journey. Learners can choose the learning that is most relevant to them based on their own needs, experience and aspiration. This can be guided further with diagnostics, manager advice or L&D input to ensure they find the best fit for their situation. This way, there are in charge of their own path and pace, where some might choose to move through the programme at speed, other may take a more relaxed approach to suit their needs.
We all learn differently, and a Blended Learning programme can cater to this very well. Through offering a wide variety of different learning opportunities, it allows learners of different styles to consume content in ways that work best for them. Whether this is reading on their commute or listening to a podcast/audio book while they walk the dog, Blended Learning can facilitate all types of learning.
Without doubt, Blended Learning programmes can offer a whole wealth of learning at a fraction of the cost of similar F2F programmes. There is loads of free content/resource available online to build into a programme and other aspects like recorded webinars and e-learning modules which can be reused again on future programmes.
With most of the learning being done remotely, rather than in a central location, there are huge savings to be made in travel, hotel costs and room hire. Though there may still be some F2F events, usually to begin and end the programme, this is significantly less than if the entire programme was run F2F.
With the travel time minimised, so is the carbon impact of Blended Learning programmes. Thankfully, many organisations are now becoming more carbon conscious and mindful of their impact on the planet. Recent concern around a “climate emergency” is driving organisations to build carbon reduction into their business strategies.
For the individual, there is much greater focus on becoming more practical, making difference choices to minimise their own carbon impact. Less travel for all is easily achieved through a Blended Learning programme, particularly if it uses Virtual Training platforms to substitute some of the F2F requirements.
Embraces Learning on the Job
Many people would agree that we learn new things much better through experience and putting new information into practice. Blended Learning programmes allow learners to absorb a new skill, apply it on the job, gain feedback and continuously improve. This system works due to the ongoing, repetition nature of a Blended Learning programme and how through setting projects, tasks and assignments, learners can practice as part of their everyday work.
For example, a Blended Learning Management Development programme might cover a module on coaching. Managers can learn the principles of coaching through a Virtual Workshop and consume some extra content; reading, video, podcasts etc. After this, they can apply it with a colleague where they give coaching session, gain some feedback and report their experience back.
There are many benefits to a Blended Learning programme, but overall, what sets it apart from others is its truly flexible nature. A great way to maximise time, cost and make the most of the varied learning styles of your learners, Blended programmes offer something for everyone.