Blended Learning is a training model composed of both classroom-based and distance-learning activities. Learners are supervised by a trainer and complete online training modules according to their schedules.
With widespread access to new technologies and the generalized use of digital tools, blended learning is now more popular than ever. Its originality? The combination of distance learning with traditional classroom-based training. A type of training that offers a number of advantages. By proposing some classes online, blended learning offers significant flexibility. This type of training is therefore often popular with company employees who have to combine their work with acquiring new skills, for example.
With blended learning, the learner gains in autonomy and is an active player in their own training. In order to be effective, however, the strategy must respect a number of key principles, which we will set out in this article.
How does a blended learning training course take place?
Blended learning is divided into two forms of learning:
- Face-to-face learning: the trainer and trainees meet in person to discuss the training and review the learners’ progress. The trainer is the learners’ special point of contact: the trainer shares their knowledge and guides the participants through the course. These face-to-face classes forge a special relationship between trainer and learners.
- Distance learning: the training modules are accessible online via an e-learning application. The learners are free to choose when and where they want to carry out the training according to their availability. These online classes offer extensive freedom as the resources are accessible online.
Create an effective blended learning course in 10 steps
An effective blended learning course depends on a full understanding of the needs and expectations of your target audience. Before the training, conduct surveys and opinion studies to clearly determine the aspirations of your targets when they embark on a training course. In order to be effective, the participants must not only take part in the course but really engage in their learning process. As such, it is essential to offer a veritable learning experience through high-quality content setting you apart from the competition.
Step 1: determine the goals of the blended learning course
Determine beforehand the precise goals and teaching aims of your course. This will enable you to define the methods, prepare the necessary resources and involve your team in order to meet the learners’ expectations.
Ask the right questions:
- What skills must the learners acquire?
- What e-learning tools should you use?
- How much time should the course last in total?
- What is the right balance between online and face-to-face classes?
- How many modules do you need to develop?
- How will you take learner feedback into account?
The training goals will guide the training plan and the rhythm of the course. An effective method to set up a training solution suited to the different people destined to benefit from this support.
Step 2: choose effective training tools
Your training materials must be effective and suited to your training modules. To organize the e-learning part, create virtual classes and manage the classroom-based learning, use an LMS (Learning Management System) software tool. These are valuable resources to boost your efficiency.
Various LMS solutions exist and it is up to the trainer to choose the one that corresponds best to their needs and those of their target audience, as well as to their training goals and their budget. Feel free to discover our Digiforma tool.
Step 3: set out clearly the detailed training programme
For a blended learning strategy to be effective, your learners must have a clear view of the course as a whole to that they can fully commit throughout the modules. Your training plan must therefore be clear and coherent:
- Describe the different parts of your training plan,
- Integrate the timetable of classes, whether online or face-to-face,
- Include the training goals,
- Indicate the list of presentations to be handed in and their deadlines.
Step 4: create interactive content
Bear in mind that an effective blended learning strategy depends on your participants’ level of engagement. As such, focus on interaction rather than didactic content in order to maintain learners’ attention and incite them to act. Punctuate your course with interactive sessions carried out directly on the e-learning platform in order to create links with the other learners.
Step 5: encourage group work
Group work is mutually enriching as it allows learners to share their knowledge and benefit from the skills of the other members. Encourage exchanges between groups by offering them virtual chatrooms where they can discuss between themselves. This is one of the clear benefits of digital technology.
Step 6: support your learners
A blended learning course can only be effective if the participants can communicate with their trainer and ask them any questions they need, by email or instant messaging, for example. They must feel supported throughout the learning process in order to be able to give the very best of themselves.
Step 7: evaluate your learners effectively
To enrich your modules and if necessary adjust the content for your next classroom-based session, you must be able to evaluate your learners regularly, such as at the end of each module, for example. It is up to you how you conduct your evaluations:
- multiple-choice questionnaires,
- writing a short summary at the end of the module,
- a group discussion.
Evaluation is also beneficial for your learners: they can identify their progress and the skills they have acquired themselves. This will enable them to evaluate their own weaknesses and points to work on further to consolidate what they have learned.
Step 8: enrich your training through learner feedback
Learner feedback is essential for improving the content of your training. To collect learner feedback on a regular basis, you can conduct surveys at the end of each module or discuss with your learners directly to enable them to express their thoughts and share their ideas. This feedback constitutes a valuable resource for fine-tuning your training methods and materials.
Step 9: share your teaching materials and sources
Throughout the blended learning modules, you may cite examples and refer to diagrams, books, videos, etc. Be sure to recap on all the teaching materials presented at the end of each module to encourage your learners to deepen their knowledge about the topics raised.
Step 10: reward your learners
Signing up to training is a significant personal commitment. Be sure to reward this initiative and your learners’ efforts throughout the course. To this end, provide an official certificate to mark the end of the course and confirm the acquisition of new skills. Your learners will feel valorized and more confident in using their new expertise in their work.
‘Traditional’ training may be inconvenient from a logistical and human point of view. premises, classrooms and equipment must be booked and all learners must be able to attend the training on the scheduled date, which can generate a certain cost. As such, blended learning can provide the ideal solution, offering significant gains in terms of time and productivity. It adapts to learners’ needs, stimulates them and valorizes them throughout their learning process.