According to a 2015 24X7 Learning report, Understanding the Learner, only 12% of learners stated they apply new skills and knowledge learned from training to their job.
With an average of $1,229 and 34.4 hours being spent per employee on training, that’s a lot of company time and money wasted.
Using blended learning methods with your employee training can save critical company resources and improve your bottom line.
Online learning, also known as elearning, allows employees to have more control over their own learning process, giving them the ability to revisit material if needed.
With this strategy, employees grasp concepts and skills 40% to 60% faster versus traditional classroom methods. Also, elearning has a 25-60% retention rate, while face-to-face training only has an 8-10% retention rate.
However, elearning doesn’t work as well on its own for some concepts.
This is where blended learning comes in.
What is Blended Learning?
Blended learning is a training/teaching strategy that uses both in-person and online training to optimize the learning experience.
In a blended learning environment, none of the face-to-face training is replaced by elearning. Instead, trainers might offer additional online resources or have a group complete an online exercise in addition to the in-person training.
In other words, both classroom and online methods are “blended” for the highest level of understanding and knowledge retention. However, this should not be mistaken for “flipped learning” (also known as “flipped classroom”) which is another strategy that uses in-person and online resources.
According to eLearning Industry, a leading source for elearning professionals, the difference between the two methods lies in how the online resources are used. For flipped learning, trainees must review online materials, such as a video or an exercise, before coming to the classroom for an in-depth discussion or application of what was learned. Blended learning, as stated above, uses the online materials alongside the classroom learning methods.
Weighing the Pros and Cons
A blended learning approach has its advantages. In its article Advantages and Disadvantages Of Blended Learning In Corporate Training, eLearning Industry named the top four:
1.) Reduced training costs – This is one of the biggest reasons companies switch to a blended learning approach. Blended learning makes training courses more effective by allowing employees to supplement what they learned in the classroom with additional online resources. This helps employees retain more of the training material, do their jobs better and help improve your company’s bottom line. Blended learning also reduces several expenses, such as the cost of course materials, or in some cases, instructors and classrooms.
2.) Unlimited access to training materials – The blended learning approach is flexible, allowing employees to learn at their own pace. If they want to review a topic or concept, they can do so with the supplemental online resources, whenever and wherever is most convenient for them.
3.) A personalized experience – Blending both in-person instruction and elearning allows employees to get the most out of the course. For example, if someone is struggling with a certain topic, they can either get in-person help from the instructor or access supplemental training materials online.
4.) Simple progress & development tracking – Instead of conducting and grading paper quizzes and exercises by hand, online testing and activities speed up the process. These automatically track a learner’s progress and understanding of the topic at hand.
While blended learning is beneficial, it’s also important to understand the pitfalls of the approach and how to work around them. Here are three:
1.) Expensive initial set-up – The initial set-up and maintenance costs are some of the biggest reasons many companies turn away from blended learning. Implementing the technology needed for the blended approach might be expensive up front, especially for enterprises, but it will pay off in the long run.
Workaround: Calculate the potential ROI (return on investment) of the necessary technology ahead of time to have a better chance for C-level buy-in.
2.) Technology apprehension – As eLearning Industry mentioned in its article, there will always be at least one person who will be nervous about learning the technology needed for blended learning.
Workaround: Set up workshops for employees to learn as much as possible about the new approach. Keep support representatives close by to teach employees about the features of the new technology as needed. But most of all, be sure to communicate the benefits of the blended learning approach so employees can understand why the change was made.
3.) Wasted resources – If your trainers and trainees aren’t effectively using the blended learning approach, the training won’t be retained, resulting in wasted company time and resources. Many times, this is because they don’t know how to use the learning technology or the tools provided are unreliable.
Workaround: Have support answer any questions. Also, before investing in any technology, be sure to make a list of necessary features. To get you started, you can find a seven-step checklist in our Definitive Guide to Learning Management Systems.
Blended Learning & LMS
The best blended learning strategies rely on an effective learning management system (LMS) to provide and distribute online materials and exercises.
From our Definitive Guide, here’s a summary of LMS features that will make your blended learning approach a success:
- Training administration – Administration offers you full control over distributing course material, scheduling course times and communicating with enrolled employees.
- Course execution – For both in-person and online sessions, course execution allows you to organize all the factors related to creating a successful training course, from assigning instructors to embedding videos for tutorials.
- Performance tracking – Reporting features allow you to easily track the progress and development of each enrolled employee.
Ready to implement a blended learning strategy? Check out our comprehensive reviews to find the LMS that meets your company’s needs. Better yet, download our LMS Vendor Comparison Guide for a side-by-side view of the top contenders in the market.