In February of 2020 I was in San Jose, California to deliver training to a group of hospital directors. As I sat in the airport waiting for my flight home to Nashville, I noticed people walking through the airport wearing masks. At the time I thought this was an unusual sight. Little did I know I was witnessing the beginning of sweeping changes in the way we live and work.
Like many others, I spent the remainder of 2020 figuring out how to adapt to an unexpected and radical change. For many years I had delivered training solely in person. As it did for so many people, the pandemic fundamentally changed the way I needed to do my job.
The chaos of those early days of the pandemic gave way to new ways of thinking about most things—work, life, and training. In many ways this worldwide disruption accelerated widespread innovation. Training teams were not exempt from the need for this paradigm shift.
While instructor-led virtual training certainly took its place as a great alternative to an in-person classroom experience, blended learning options also emerged as an effective and exciting choice.
But what is blended learning? Why does it work, and how can it be adapted to the learning journey of your organization?
What Is Blended Learning?
Blended learning is essentially a mix of instructor-led sessions (either virtually or in person) and on-demand learning. Blended learning can be deployed in a variety of ways, depending on the audience, time constraints, and learning objectives.
Accessibility and flexibility have become key components to training for employees over a wide variety of industries. Staffing shortages in healthcare, education, and manufacturing have created significant challenges for training teams. For participants in any industry with limited time to be away from their jobs, blended learning can be a great fit.
Crucial Learning’s world class on-demand courses can be paired with either virtual or in-person instructor-led discussion sessions to meet the needs of every kind of learner at every level of your organization.
Blended learning works because it meets each learner where they are both in terms of time and learning method. The flexibility of being able to access eLearning modules on one’s own time and at an individual’s preferred pace addresses the challenge of accommodating differing personal schedules and learning styles. This focus on the needs of individual learning allows the instructor to keep participants engaged and motivated and allows for both confidence building and personal connection.
Blended Learning and Your Learning Journey
As our learning experiences have evolved and changed over the last three years, so have our learning journeys changed. Gone are the one-size-fits all approaches to development. They’ve been replaced with an adaptable set of resources designed to make learning “sticky.” Blended learning can be a key piece to high-impact training implementation in your organization. But how do you launch this exciting training format? What steps should you take, and what things should you consider?
First, begin with the end in mind. What does “done” look like? What skills do your learners need, and how much time can they devote to building those skills?
Next, determine how and at what cadence your facilitated sessions should occur. Will these be in-person or virtual? Weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly? How long will your learners have access to on-demand lessons?
Finally, determine who will be leading those sessions. Will this be a seasoned facilitator, a team manager, or an opinion leader?
Once you have made those decisions, it’s time to launch your blended learning experience. The way you begin this training will have a profound impact on your level of engagement and success. In other words, your kickoff session is key.
During this first gathering, set expectations for participation and attendance. Ask an executive to join you during the first session. This will give credibility to your blended learning initiative.
Now more than ever your learners look to you for help and support in getting results both inside and outside the organization. Implementing a blended learning approach to personal and professional development can help your learners achieve the goals that create lasting behavior change.