What is Blended Learning?
Blended Learning is a method of personalized learning that combines traditional face-to-face instruction with digital learning that allows the student to benefit from control over pace and learning path. Blended learning offsets the limitations of the traditional classroom environment by digital means, whilst preserving the benefit of teacher oversight.
However, most definitions of Blended Learning and the majority of research into the subject pertains to the K-12 educational space. As more millennials enter the workforce Blended Learning has become more relevant than ever, also in a corporate environment. We have reframed Blended Learning in a corporate context and given you a link-rich document with everything you need to know about Blended Learning.
The Blended Learning Definition and Debunking Some Common Misconceptions About Blended Learning Solutions
Blended Learning is the method of effectively combining online teaching with traditional offline, face-to-face instruction in order to provide the learner with a deeper, more meaningful learning experience. This sounds simple, but it’s surprisingly complex. To harness the power of Blended Learning, we have to challenge all of our assumptions about the educational environment and re-architect it in a novel way for the modern learner.
Supporters of Blended Learning believe that Blended Learning helps learners go deeper into the material, and gives them a more meaningful and transformative learning experience. Blended Learning lends true transparency to the learning process by opening up communication between the learner and instructor. Rather than crudely sticking two different methodologies together, the entire system has to be picked apart and blended together homogeneously into something novel.
Opponents of Blended Learning think learning should maintain its traditional form: devoid of technological distractions or absence of face-to-face interactions. For them, technology is a distraction and isolates learners or conversely, face-to-face learning is boring and redundant.Common misconceptions about the benefits of Blended Learning are based on a failed understanding of just how flexible and new it really is. One right media for eLearning doesn’t exist (more on that below). By offering a wide range of options on the online learning side and having full engagement on the offline learning side, where instructor and learner alike are interacting with the technology, Blended Learning becomes a powerful solution.
Why Blended Learning Has Everyone Talking: Top 3 Benefits of Blended Learning
In the past decade, teachers at higher and lower educational institutes have organically adopted Blended Learning as a meaningful learning tool in and out of the classroom, really modeling what is just now catching on at the enterprise level. Blended Learning’s success is owed to three main benefits:
Blended Learning doesn’t leave any kind of learner out—whether you prefer the familiar traditional classroom or would rather do things online or both—everyone has a chance to benefit from this all-encompassing style. Not only that, but Blended Learning utilizes so many methodologies that the content can be customized to the learner and optimized for the subject matter.
Blended Learning, by making use of online and offline technologies in tandem, is nimbler than traditional lesson planning. The latest learning trends and modalities can be quickly adopted into the curriculum. Instructors can make use of the built-in reporting features in most LMS software programs for deeper, data driven insights. Blended Learning creates a transparent, communicative process between student and teacher.
Blended Learning is an interactive experience in every sense of the word, which makes it fun. Learners engage with the offline lessons by practicing online through a variety of different content media, each geared to suit a certain learning style. Learners can choose which type of content they wish to interact with, practice what they learn and communicate with instructors and other learners anytime and on any device. The community experience keeps learners engaged and informs teachers as to their progress and areas needing more attention.
6 Trendy Blended Learning Models: Not All Blended Learning Is the Same
Here are some of the most commonly using Blended Learning Models.
- Face-to-Face: Traditional instructor-led learning sessions, supplemented with technology to allow learners to control their own learning pace. Benefits are role-play, mentoring, hands-on practice, and feedback.
- Rotation: Students go from learning activity to learning activity, either in a structured learning session directed by a teacher, or online in a self-directed manner. Examples include learning stations, labs, and the flipped classroom where learners practice the lesson before attending the face-to-face training.
- Flex: Flex learning is a term which can be used interchangeably with personalized learning. By means of integration of learning in a Learning Management System (LMS.), the student is in control of his learning path, choosing what he wishes to learn. The instructor is usually present in a mentoring capacity, to answer questions.
- Online Lab: This blended learning model is entirely digital, with little or no instructor interaction. It takes place either before, during or after a training. Learners can access content on mobile phones (mLearning), laptops or tablets. This modality engages and solidifies learning.
- Self-Blend: Self-Blend is supplemental content, either in the form of webinars, white papers, industry blogs, or video tutorials, that help self-motivated learners delve deeper in the subject than provided by regular employee training. A robust LMS can combine diverse content sources under one system to encourage curiosity and growth.
- Online Driver: This blended learning model is entirely self-directed and takes place in a digital environment. Learners can engage with an instructor through chat, email or message board. It provides a flexible schedule and personalized learning, but lacks the face-to-face interaction of other types of blended learning.
Now the Tricky Part: Implementation and Creating Your Blended Classroom
- Think about what your goals are—what do you want employees to learn? If it’s how to interact with difficult customers, consider an Online Lab where employees take self-assessments to determine their individual communication styles. Then follow that up with role-play in small group Rotations, where they practice resolving an issue or delivering a pitch with other employees who have different styles.
- How much time do you have? This determines whether your blended learning is mostly online or offline.
- What kind of learners are you working with? Are they self-motivated? Try the Self-Blend technique and register them in webinars or sign them up for training Apps.
- What’s your budget? Learning Management Systems, while costing money upfront, can save money and time in the long run. If you want to plan for the long term, consider one of the many options available to help you design a program that works for your company.
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