With the decreasing shelf life of technical skills and increasing need for a whole suite of nontechnical competencies, including innovation, social intelligence and collaboration, workplace learning is a hot topic. But as up to 70% of employers that have implemented flexible work options report that hybrid work will be their preferred model going forward, what are the best ways to accomplish that learning?
Blended learning is an ideal fit for training and development in a hybrid workplace. Much like the hybrid work model, where employees work from the office part of the time and remotely the rest of the time, blended learning combines the advantages of in-person classes with the flexibility of online learning.
Getting started with blended learning in the workplace takes a bit of work, but the upfront planning and a strategic implementation plan can pay off in spades.
What Is Blended Learning?
Not everyone agrees on a single definition, so it’s important to clarify what we mean. At D2L, we define blended learning as an approach that combines face-to-face learning with online learning.
Benefits of Blended Learning in the Workplace
There are several benefits to taking a blended learning approach to workplace learning. According to a systematic review of 18 peer-reviewed research studies, organizations and learners alike report that blended learning is:
- fast and effective
- relevant and immediately useful on the job
Part of the reason blended learning is so appealing is that it gives learners autonomy over their learning and allows them to work at their own pace while still benefiting from face-to-face interactions. For organizations, blended learning offers a cost-effective way to build skills and foster a learning culture throughout the organization.
Getting Started With Blended Learning in the Workplace
That’s not to say that implementing blended learning is without challenges, especially for organizations moving from exclusively in-person training programs. Here’s how to get started.
Think in Terms of Overall Digital Strategy
Hybrid learning should be part of the organization’s overall digital transformation strategy. That means taking an integrated approach to technology, learning strategy and change management to drive success. This includes:
- getting buy-in from stakeholders at all levels of the organization, from securing executive sponsorship to involving employees
- designing a full communication strategy to support the process
- ensuring you have the right learning management system (LMS) to support both the online and in-person components in a comprehensive manner
Design a Blended Learning Strategy
A successful blended learning program takes more than simply putting in-person lessons online. It requires a specialized learning strategy and content that is specifically designed to be engaging in an online, asynchronous learning environment. For example:
- Provide a variety of content types. Consider lectures by guest speakers, interactive quizzes, on-demand video sessions and presentation slides to review.
- Build opportunities for social and collaborative learning into the online learning environment. These can be anything from online discussions to group projects across teams. They create unique learning opportunities because everyone learns from the experiences of their peers.
- Integrate learning into the natural flow of the workweek. Short, frequent sessions over several days or weeks are easier to fit in and help learners retain their knowledge.
Remember to support learning facilitators, especially if they’re new to blended learning. Ensure that they have the training and resources to make full use of the tools in your LMS along with training and best practices for facilitating hybrid courses.
Transform Corporate Training With Blended Learning
Blended learning is a great way to improve employee training. It combines the flexibility of online learning with the benefits of in-person sessions, making it an excellent fit for hybrid workplaces. Organizations need to think strategically about implementing their blended learning plan for workplace training to ensure it is engaging and successful.
Karen Karnis has a BA in sociology from the University of Guelph. She has worked in social services, higher education, communications and journalism. Karen is currently working toward a Master of Education in Sustainability, Creativity and Innovation through Cape Breton University.
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