Learning & Development

The Absolute Ultimate Guide to Blended Learning

Are you an enterprise learning and development professional looking to efficiently and effectively train hundreds or thousands of employees? We know it can be difficult to tailor your approach to employee learning for a variety of different learning styles

The solution is simple: blended learning.

All forms of blended learning -- and there are many -- involve a digital element. If you’ve had your employees attend an online training program or workshop, then you’ve already integrated blended learning techniques into your day-to-day office life.

Let’s get started.

What is blended learning?

Blended learning is a form of learning that blends traditional instructional techniques with training resources and potential for online participation. However, widespread blended learning allows your employees to access essential and supplementary training materials at their own pace.

Employees are encouraged to complete this training by a particular deadline, but on their own schedules. In this way, employees are said to be able to dedicate their full attention to essential workplace training, as they have more control over their schedules.

To put it simply, blended learning is a “hybrid” of in-person and online training.

What is the difference between hybrid and blended learning?

The most significant difference between hybrid and blended learning is that blended learning primarily works when two things are combined: eLearning and traditional learning. Hybrid learning works by allowing students to choose whether they want to learn in person or online.

Both types of learning can involve in-person and digital elements. Blended learning, however, offers your employees greater freedom, especially in terms of scheduling.

Blended learning models

There are a variety of ways instructors can implement a blended learning approach for their employees or organization. These are the different types of blended learning models:

1. Flipped Classroom Model

A Flipped Classroom model allows employees to learn remotely through online courses, videos, and training materials. Leaving normal business hours to implement or practice these newly trained skills.

2. Flex Model

The Flex model gives employees the option to move between learning sessions on a flexible schedule based on their preferences. While learners go through the course curriculum and content, instructors offer assistance and guidance on an as-needed basis.

3. A La Carte Model

Employees can attend an online course with an instructor of record in addition to other in-person courses using the A La Carte approach, which gives them additional scheduling freedom.

4. Enriched Virtual Model

With an Enriched Virtual model, employees can complete a majority of their learning and development remotely. Organizations might also offer in-person or face-to-face training at their business location, without requiring everyday attendance at the office.

Importance of blended learning

Blended learning is important because it breaks down conventional instruction barriers that don't work for all learners. The learning experience can be customized for each employee thanks to modern learning management systems. Blended learning also allows for adjustable periods of time that may be tailored to each individual, allowing them to learn at their own speed.

Benefits of blended learning

The primary benefit of blended learning for most offices is its incredible flexibility. If you have employees based all around the world, it better suits their productivity to be able to access essential training materials on their own timeframes. Other benefits include:

1. Improved employee engagement

Providing employees with various learning opportunities, whether in-person or online, learner engagement rates have been shown to increase significantly. This also allows employees to learn on their own time and according to their own preferences.

2. Efficient use of company and employee time

Companies can take advantage of certain blended learning models such as a flipped classroom as it separates an employee’s training time from “on the clock” job duties. Employees can complete their learning assignments at home on their own time, or companies can set aside certain time frames for training.

3. Increased learner retention

When employees are given multiple options to learn the way that fits them best, you can expect their retention to improve as well. Whether it’s online learning, in-person workshops, or curated content, employees will comprehend more of what they’ve been learning compared to forcing them into a single learning path.

4. Gathering better learning analytics

By using blended learning tools and online training resources, your organization can uncover valuable insights into employee learning through data. These analytics will spot out what is or isn’t working for your employees’ development. Use this data to create or modify your enterprise learning approach.

Continu’s Learning Amplification Platform™ provides your organization with the right tools to measure employee learning.

5. Higher course completion rates

With blended learning, employees get to learn, train, and develop their skills on their schedule and the way they prefer. This in turn creates higher completion rates for training as you’ve given them multiple options to choose from to learn the way they want.

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Advantages of blended learning

Blended learning comes with a ton of advantages for your organization, such as its ability to be synchronous or asynchronous. This means an instructor doesn’t have to be present all the time, allowing for autonomy in employee learning. Here are a few other advantages of blended learning:

  • Better collaboration between employees
  • Creating a positive learning environment
  • Great learning and development strategy for large groups
  • Variety of mixed learning styles provides valuable data
  • Employees control how they learn
  • Higher training ROI with lower costs
  • More fun and engaging

Disadvantages of blended learning

Although hybrid learning methods can benefit your organization’s approach to employee training, there are a few downsides, such as:

  • Some employees prefer structured learning
  • Lack of motivation for learning
  • Harder to set up quickly and efficiently
  • Requires tech knowledge
  • Looking up answers online instead of actually learning

Blended learning strategies and best practices

Your organization can implement blended learning into their corporate training plan fairly easily. In fact, most companies already possess the resources and materials to offer remote learning and training or a complete in-house training experience.

Regardless of your business type, size, and industry, there are a few blended learning strategies and best practices to ensure success:

Create a learning dictionary

A great way to accommodate remote learners' lack of instructor-led training is the creation of a glossary or learning “dictionary” of training terms. This can serve as a solid reference point when employees need to look up a specific term, acronym, and definition. It removes the need to “Google” terms which can be incorrect or not the way your organization uses them.

Personalize employee learning

Employees learn better and retain more information when you personalize learning to their preferred method or skill set. This could be curated content based on their geographic location, department, level of expertise, or job title. It also encourages self-learning as employees know your organization is providing them with training materials tailored to them personally.

Promote collaborative learning

One of the most effective ways to increase employee engagement during training is to enable collaborative learning. To simplify it, collaborative learning is when two or more employees work together or as a group to learn. Trainers using this form of learning aren’t teaching materials, but incentivizing employees to collaborate and learn new skills.

Encourage discussions

A direct result of collaborative or peer-to-peer learning is employees discussing their training, experience, and points of view. Allowing learners to share their feedback on what they’ve just learned is the perfect opportunity to develop a social learning environment. Discussions create conversations which boost employee engagement around training. You can spark social learning through FAQs, comments, ratings, and sharing content.

Mix up training materials

Instead of delivering the same learning materials over and over again, mix up how you develop training materials. Depending on the topic, delivery method (online or in-person), and who’s being trained, choose the perfect content type. For example, if your organization is training employees on a new product feature, try implementing an online training video or demo.

Optimize training delivery methods

Once you’ve selected the preferred content type, you’ll need to figure out what’s the optimal way to get this learning material in your employees hands. Are you going to offer an in-person classroom or workshop training? Or take advantage of digital learning through an online course?

Either way can work very well and accomplish business training goals. That’s the power of blended learning for an organization.

Example of blended learning

Larger enterprise companies can use blended learning effectively to train both in-person and remote employees. This type of learning is great for big companies with employees in different time zones as they can consume learning materials whenever available.

Here’s a real-world example of an enterprise-level company using Continu to achieve a successful blended learning approach:

Slack implements “just-in-time learning”

Slack wanted a learning platform that would offer training where and when its workers needed it the most - directly within the Slack application. Due to Slack’s integration with Continu, they were able to create a blended learning approach called “just-in-time” learning. 

This “just-in-time” learning experience keeps up with the pace of their company, giving them a competitive advantage. It allowed them to provide learning and training materials, resources, and programs to their employees directly into the Slack application.

Employees would then be able to complete their learning and training no matter if they are in one of Slack’s 16+ offices or working remotely. End users benefit from a richer learning experience as well as considerable time savings. When training is finished or is late, Slack management can be notified in real time.

Check out how Slack used Continu for blended learning.

Slack + Continu case study

Continu, all-in-one blended learning LMS

Continu is a learning management system built for modern teams. Meaning it’s able to be used by both internal and remote employees alike, providing a solid blended learning experience to all users.

Here’s how Continu can solve your organization’s blended learning needs:

  • Create content directly in our platform, no need for multiple tools
  • Deliver learning or training materials to anyone, anywhere around the world
  • Customize your organization’s remote training approach
  • Personalized learning by location, department, or custom variables
  • Automate attendance tracking of virtual and in-person workshops
  • Training tracking, detailed reports, and online assessments
  • Plus much more…

Choose a blended learning LMS that works for in-person, hybrid, or fully remote learning in your enterprise organization.

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