If you have high school or college-age kids, you’ve probably heard the term “blended learning” used in their curriculum or syllabi. With the growth of e-Learning opportunities for students, more and more educational institutions are adopting the concept of blending learning to reach students in a deeper way than face-to-face lectures. But what is blended learning and how does it apply to your workplace?

The concept of blended learning is almost exactly what it sounds like: a combination of in-person instruction led by a teacher or instructor alongside other types of learning, often e-Learning through digital tools, platforms, and other types of technology. Blended learning can be as simple as introducing iPads and other tablets to the classroom and as complex as allowing students to take a certain percentage of their coursework through an online learning platform.

For the working world, blended learning has some major advantages. Unlike company-mandated face-to-face seminars, blended learning brings the human element of classroom teaching while also offering the flexibility of e-Learning around your own schedule. At the same time, it can often be more engaging than simply requiring employees to take an online course with little to no in-person feedback or interaction.

If you’re considering bringing blended learning into the workplace, you’ll want to consider a few questions when choosing the right medium for your employees, including:

What is best taught online and what is best taught in-person?

Typically, blended learning works best when instructors carefully balance what’s taught online with what’s taught in-person. For example, many lectures can be delivered through video learning modules online, while interactive discussions that involve employee feedback and perspectives are best moderated in person. Often complex topics are best discussed in-person with follow-up support or additional information supplied through an e-Learning platform after the lesson. There are many different ways to separate online and in-person content, so it’s important to think through your strategy before launching any blended learning efforts for your staff.

How can we maximize our in-person time while still making online instruction valuable?

Often, employees have limited time for in-person learning on the job. In the best case, in-person learning is a great opportunity to discuss important topics and learn together as a group. In the worst case, however, employees are resentful and distracted because in-person learning is taking up valuable time from their workday. To help find a healthy balance, it’s important to think about how to best maximize your employees’ in-person learning opportunities. What instruction must absolutely take place in-person while which lessons can be moved online? Is in-person time better spent learning new skills, discussing important topics, or practicing skills that are already learned? These are the types of critical questions you’ll need to consider when creating a blended learning program.

Can we save employee time through blended learning?

While it’s tempting to use blended learning as a pretext for more face-to-face meetings with your employees, a successful curriculum developer will need to consider not only how much time they have to educate their students but how much time they can give back to their students by being efficient and concise. While you’ll likely never feel that you have enough time with your students, being respectful of employee time is critical for blended learning to be successful. For example, could you move employee learning sessions to just once per month if you migrated most of the curriculum online? Or perhaps you could make employee in-person learning voluntary if the online learning was robust enough? Your employees will thank you for considering their needs as you create your blended learning program.

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