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Why Blended Learning Gets Better Results

A large, comprehensive study conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics painted a startling portrait of how employees actually learn. They found that around 30% of employee learning comes from formal instruction, such as instructor-led classes and structured courses, while 70% of learning occurs informally through reading books and articles, discussion with fellow employees, water cooler chats and simply trial and error.

And yet, most corporate training initiatives still focus their efforts (and their budgets) on the formal training approach. In other words, we’re spending the lion’s share of the money on the smallest component of the learning equation.

 

The key is to blend…

Smart organisations are effectively blending formal classroom training with informal, on-the-job training tools such as, self-paced e-learning, simulations, on-line courses and reference materials, assessments and virtual meetings with mentors. See, they’ve discovered a secret: a blended learning model will allow them to deliver diverse, individualised training to more employees in more locations, and within existing training budgets.

An effective blended learning strategy generally incorporates a wide variety of learning activities, while offering employees more learning flexibility and increased performance support. Ultimately, finding the perfect blend is about establishing a balance between the instructional advantages for the learner and the learning objective. Blended learning captures the best of both worlds by allowing learners to choose how they want to learn and offering greater flexibility about when they want to learn. They can learn from a website, relaxing at home in their pyjamas, if they so choose. They can learn at their own pace, on their own schedule.

Distance learning or e-learning allows them to, for example, devote more time and effort to concepts that they find difficult to understand and discuss any learning obstacles with mentors. There are fewer opportunities for custom-tailored learning in a classroom environment, where instructors must move on to the next topic to maintain overall group interest.

 

Which methods should you include in your blend?

It depends on the learning context, the skills to be taught, and, sometimes, simply, practicality. Certain motivational aspects of sales training, for example, may be more effective coming from a charismatic instructor than an on-line e-course. Depending on the complexity of your training needs, experimentation may be required. What probably won’t be effective is just throwing together a “pot-luck stew” of learning tools.

To get started, you might consider dividing your planning process into a structure similar to one used by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT):

  • Instructional Methods (discussion, guided practice, reading, games, case study, simulation)
  • Delivery Methods (live classroom or computer mediated)
  • Scheduling (synchronous or asynchronous)
  • Levels of Guidance (individual, instructor or expert led, or group/social learning)

 

Whatever blend you choose, one thing’s for sure: A blended training approach will allow you to shift your focus from a knowledge-delivery model to an applying-knowledge model, which increases the odds of building a better-educated, better-performing workforce.

 

Is blended learning expensive to implement?

While there may be modest start-up costs associated with developing, for example, Internet e-learning materials, most companies will save money over the longer term. They no longer have to hire outside training firms, pay instructors or the air fare costs associated with flying them to training sites.

Blended Learning Models will empower your employees through education, improve individual employee performance and self-sufficiency, and, ultimately, drive results that better support your organisation’s business objectives. Call us now on 0207 043 1582 to find out more about how we can work with you through blended learning.

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