Promises And Challenges Of Blended Learning In The Workplace

Blended Learning In The Workplace
Summary: Professionals who deliver corporate training and Continuous Personal Development (CPD) will be familiar with the increasing popularity of blended learning. It has become a stable part of the eLearning scene and solutions over the last few years.

Bringing Together Online And Traditional Learning

For those who aren't as familiar with this concept yet, blended learning is partly dependent on the circumstances of how training and ongoing learning provisions are delivered. There isn’t, as of yet, a universally accepted definition. However, there are clear distinctions between traditional classroom-based, Instructor-Led learning, eLearning (where everything is done online), and the combination of the two, known as blended learning.

Blended learning, as the name implies, brings together the best of both worlds: eLearning and traditional Instructor-Led training. You can also combine time with an instructor, peer-based learning and eLearning, giving staff members the best of everything in order to maximize the effectiveness of the training they're receiving.

Both instructors and learners are often positive about the experience and impact of blended learning. Companies are positive about it for the same reasons, with them finding outcomes higher than purely classroom-based training or eLearning, and without the in-person elements.

Benefits Of Blended Learning

When it comes to classroom-based training, a fixed amount of time needs to be allocated, temporarily reducing how productive a team can be during your average working week. Also, a room needs to be found and either someone internally needs to deliver the training or an external provider needs to be used.

eLearning doesn't involve any of those commitments, although it does require investments in purchasing or developing educational software [1]. Content also needs to be created or bought to support the Learning Experience. In any case, eLearning is more convenient because it can be done outside of work and learners can study at their own pace.

Unfortunately, the downside to this is that without some kind of direction, eLearning isn't always going to be as effective as training delivered in the classroom. So a solution of combining the two gives learners direction and guidance, while also giving them the freedom to absorb the knowledge from other modules at their own pace, and then apply that knowledge in the workplace.

With both functioning in tandem, learners gain the best of both worlds without necessarily the same costs and time required if everything was done in a classroom. A hybrid of both training methods benefits companies and learners with improved outcomes, and a quicker more effective route to ensure new knowledge is absorbed.

Academic research has found that blended learning improves the understanding of course content and, in part, this is because social learning is included in the educational mix.

What Makes Blended Learning Ideal For Organizations

Blended learning is one of the most effective learning methods for corporate training. Alongside reduced costs from not requiring as much in-person training, blended learning means that companies can use a mix of practices and learning styles, including video, webinars, and gamification to improve engagement rates. Companies have found they receive a quicker Return On Investment (ROI), with team members able to apply the learning outcomes quicker and, therefore, more effectively. With the eLearning component, it’s easier to track who has completed the training.

However, the benefits of blended learning won’t work without relevant evaluation and monitoring mechanisms. That's why introducing blended learning requires cultural and technological integration changes within the organization to support it.

Challenges Holding Blended Learning Back

One of the main challenges is what works for one doesn't always work for the other. Not every in-person course can (or should) include an eLearning component. Not everything can be adapted into digital content or for digital platforms. Pick and choose what you convert into a blended learning course carefully, then apply and adapt accordingly.

Another challenge is the Learning Management System (LMS) a company uses [2]. Not all of them are well adapted to the dynamics of modern courses and eLearning solutions. Legacy systems aren't always very adaptable, especially when they're not cloud-based, making it difficult to integrate classroom-based learning with online tools and content.

Alongside using the right tools, companies should always make sure that they're not switching to a new learning style because it’s the latest trend. Assess whether blended learning makes sense. Then start small. See if a trial run or an improved LMS can support the new learning style and if your staff responds to this approach. If you get a positive response, there could be other training courses your company provides that would benefit from a blended learning format.


[1] How Much Does It Cost to Develop An Educational App

[2] Challenges And Benefits Of Learning Management Systems