Blended learning is not a new concept, and it’s only grown in popularity as more and more companies adopt some form of digital learning into their training strategies. Whether you’ve been using this learning solution for years or are just getting it off the ground in your organization, you can benefit from fresh approaches.
In this article, we’ll share ideas for blended learning activities that will help you build a successful and engaging employee training program.
Why Use Blended Learning For Employee Training?
First off, let’s define blended learning. Blended learning combines the benefits of synchronous (traditional instructor-led) and asynchronous (self-paced online) training. Instructor-led, live sessions can happen in-person or be conducted online through webinars or web conferencing technology.
A good learning management system (LMS) will help you make the two sides of training one seamless course. It will host the asynchronous online content and can also deliver reminders and links for upcoming live sessions.
Blended learning is a great solution for training your employees because it’s a training method that:
- Saves time and money
Live sessions—whether online or in-person—come with a price. For in-person training, you’re facing the costs of travel, materials, and venues. With either option, you’re paying for instructor time and accruing the costs of employee time away from the job. By shifting some or most of the training to self-paced eLearning, you reduce those costs without reducing the quality of the training experience.
- Is convenient for learners
Because much of the learning is asynchronous, employees can complete it at their own pace. They can log in when they have the bandwidth to engage with the training material, log out when they need to get back to work or when they need a break, and pick up again where they left off. This makes it more likely they’ll give training the time and attention needed to have an impact.
- Allows for flexibility
Online training can be adjusted and upgraded quickly. If there are lessons employees find difficult, you can improve them quickly and easily. Similarly, if new information becomes available or products are upgraded, you can update online content and resources at a fraction of the cost of hard copy material and in-person retraining efforts.
- Improves engagement and retention
The diversity in training formats available in blended training makes it easier to get and hold people’s attention. Switch mediums between text, video, and graphics. Use hands-on elements like quizzes and virtual simulations to add a level of interactivity that keeps learners engaged. Higher engagement makes learning stick.
- Makes it easy to measure training effectiveness
The right LMS will help you track your training effectiveness. Many platforms can generate reports around employee attendance and performance. You can see who’s engaging, where people may be stalling in completing their training, and how they’re performing on tests and quizzes. This information will help you adjust your strategy if it’s not quite hitting the mark.
6 Blended Learning Activities To Try
So how do you make the most of this powerful training solution? The key is to keep the learning experience fresh and engaging. Here are 6 examples of blended learning activities you can implement to engage employees and boost learning.
1. Host A Practice Session
Instead of spending valuable face-to-face time teaching, cement understanding by creating a chance for people to practice the skills and get coaching. Have learners use the resources available in the self-paced lessons to become familiar with knowledge or skills. Then schedule a live session where they can apply those skills.
For example, schedule a live practice session after employees have completed some or all of the training on their own. Bring them together and give them a scenario they might actually face. Then have them work through it in small groups or as a class, using the skills they learned beforehand. Have them script exactly what they’d say or do and present it. Then ask peers and the instructor to offer feedback. This kind of hands-on experience helps prepare learners to use the skills on the job.
2. Invite Learners To A Q&A With An Expert
Here’s another chance to use live training to give learners a deeper understanding of the training content. Set up an in-person session or webinar with an instructor who can offer depth to what employees have already learned.
This session may start with a kickoff lesson or review. Then open it up to the group with relevant discussion questions. Or, have employees bring questions to ask based on what they’ve learned so far. The chance to go deeper invests people in learning and understanding the content before the session. A live Q&A also gives instructors a sense of what learners understand and where the training may need to be adjusted.
3. Make It Social
“Asynchronous” doesn’t have to mean solo. You can still generate interaction and peer support in self-paced eLearning. One way to do this is by turning to social media. It can be as simple as hosting a discussion thread within your LMS. Ask employees specific questions within the lessons and link to a group thread where they can respond. Or, start a social media group where learners can have ongoing opportunities to discuss and learn from each other.
Try setting up a Facebook group where employees can ask questions or post their experiences or thoughts. Moderate discussions and groups by providing guidelines for appropriate posts. Instigate interaction by regularly putting up polls, asking questions, or posting quotes related to the training. This kind of social interaction can harness the power of group learning as employees bring the training into everyday conversations.
4. Set Up A Challenge
Drum up interest and investment in your live session by sending out a survey or challenging scenario in advance. Ask learners to respond based on what they know now. Ask how they would solve a particular problem. Have them share ideas for the best way to handle a specific customer situation.
Or, poll them about their experience with the content in real life. For example, how often have they experienced this problem at work? How many times a week do they find themselves repeating a particular process? Then kick off the live session by sharing the results.
Giving people a chance to consider the kinds of problems they’ll be solving gets them thinking about the solution. It gives them a chance to see how the content applies to them, and they’ll be curious to hear about others’ experiences. They’ll show up to the session ready to learn.
5. Tell Real Stories
People are more likely to remember information when they’re emotionally connected to it. Use blended learning tools to create emotional connection by presenting real-life stories related to the skills. Show learners how the skills impacted an individual, improved a life, or helped an organization succeed. Consider creating a compelling video that tells the story and showing it in your live session or in the self-paced training course.
Connecting the learning to a story gives learners an emotional experience with the content. They’ll get a deeper understanding of its value and it will make the training more memorable.
6. Do Group Presentations
Assign employees to work together to create a presentation on the skills they learn. Have them present in a live group session and invite peer feedback and questions afterward. Getting people to work together lets them learn from one another. They’ll better cement what they’ve learned when they have to explain the content to others.
And, most importantly, with better knowledge retention and understanding, they’ll take the skills back to work with them where they’ll have an impact.
Tips To Make Your Blended Learning Program A Success
As you decide what activities to include in your blended learning training, keep in mind some key tips for success.
- Change up your media
Your employees may be used to getting email memos and seeing written slides. Make content more engaging and memorable by moving outside the media box. Send out a video message from a company leader. Compile information or summarize course content with a helpful, accessible infographic.
- Make your training mobile-friendly
Using familiar tech can help make your training accessible and less intimidating for less tech-savvy employees. Most people are familiar with navigating their smartphones. Make sure your training platform can be accessed via mobile device to boost employee engagement.
- Keep self-paced learning bite-sized
Information is easier to take in and remember when it’s presented in small, digestible chunks. Keep lessons short (under 15 minutes) and focus each on just one topic or skill. This tactic will make your training more effective and appealing.
Blended learning expands your options for reaching employees and helps make your training strategy effective. When designing your experience and deciding how to balance