With an increase in remote and hybrid work, more employers have adopted practices traditionally delivered in higher education and even grade-school settings. One of those practices is blended learning in the workplace.
What is blended learning in the workplace? It is a form of training that uses multiple methods—both traditional (also known as in person) and digital—and both synchronous and asynchronous—to deliver training. It’s been a boon for businesses migrating to a hybrid workplace model because of its flexibility and accessibility.
That’s because blended learning is site agnostic. It doesn’t matter where employees are. Access is seamless and readily available.
“Blended learning makes use of in-person and multimedia-based learning that has employees engage in professional development activities both in the office and while working from home,” says Trevor Larson, CEO of Nectar, an employee recognition and rewards software developer. That’s been a big boom during the pandemic, of course, but even in a nonpandemic situation, blended learning “can help improve training because it combines different types of learning, including hands-on, virtual simulations, group, and one-on-one sessions,” Larson says. In addition, he says, “It’s more multifaceted and more geared toward employees with different learning styles.”
Employee online learning has been around for some time now. But lessons learned during the pandemic about how blended learning in the workplace benefits employees wherever these learning opportunities are offered provides a wide range of benefits to organizations of all sizes and types.
Benefits of Blended Learning in the WorkplaceThe promise of blended learning is that not only can it be more flexible, but it can also improve workplace training.
“Blended learning,” says Todd Moran, chief learning officer at NovoEd, “drives better collaboration across the learning experience, greater social cohesion among workers, and ultimately better results for the business.” In addition, he says, blended learning boosts learning accessibility—a key to supporting today’s remote and hybrid workforces.
The potential broad reach of blended learning also holds benefits for organizations.
“Hybrid, blended learning means they can think more broadly and internationally, smashing through geographical borders,” Moran notes. But, he says, it’s important to create “a truly engaging experience for teachers and learners alike. If digital replacement was the immediate solution right after the pandemic outbreak, it’s now time to think and act on the true digital transformation.”
Ewelina Melon, head of people at Tidio, says that workplace blended learning “gives employees the enormous opportunity to take part in any courses from over the world and tailor them perfectly to their needs.” Businesses that decide to base their employee training program on a blended learning method, she says, can offer their employees an endless amount of growth opportunities and easily monitor their progress.
It’s important for organizations to think strategically about implementing blended learning for workplace training and taking steps to reap its benefits. That means making some improvements over how blended learning may have been used in the past.
Best Practices for Blended Learning in the WorkplaceFirst, ensure employees are familiar with the tools they’ll need to access and participate in training. It’s important, says Larson, to provide employees with experience using the tools and software that your blended learning efforts will incorporate. Don’t just leave it to chance or assume that they will be able to navigate these tools without instruction, training, and experience.
Then consider how blended learning for workplace training could be made more engaging.
In the typical blended learning model, learners review static materials before attending the live session, Moran notes. But, he says, there are opportunities for improvement. “One area that is often overlooked is the opportunity to design feedback and contextual discussions into these courses,” he says. “In the blended model, learners have many more possibilities to apply, practice, and share feedback. This deliberate application and reinforcement must be incorporated into the learning process.”
John Copeland is director of sales, learning, and development with Barco. “At Barco,” says Copeland, “we advocate for setting a long-term strategy in place and moving from digital replacement to digital transformation, with training objectives in mind and supported by technology.” When doing so, he recommends considering the following elements to ensure positive training outcomes:
- Integrate training into the flow of work. Short, few-hour long sessions across multiple days or weeks aid learning continuity and retention.
- Engage in multiple ways. Consider live, interactive sessions mixed with prerecorded ones; in-classroom training should be alternated with remote ones.
- Provide various content formats. These could include live lectures, quizzes, team assignments, and also on-demand videos, presentation slides, and written material.
- Ensure you have the right solution for training the workforce remotely and on-site with strong and varied technical capabilities.
Blended learning in the workplace gives employees the flexibility to choose when and where they want to learn. This personalizes the learning experience and boosts the odds that the learning will achieve desired results, which can translate directly to on-the-job performance gains.