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Ask a Trainer: How Should I Approach Blended Learning?


Thu Jan 23 2020

Ask a Trainer: How Should I Approach Blended Learning?

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Dear Tim,

I need some help figuring out the best way to design blended learning, but let me give you some context first.


My learning and development team has been working to define our goals for the new year, and we’ve been challenged with thinking outside the box when it comes to how we deliver our learning content. In the past, when we’ve been asked to create some training, we’ve always defaulted to an instructor-led course or an e-learning course.

We know we need to move away from this mentality, but we’re unsure where to begin. We’d like to be more strategic with our training solutions and provide a blended, modular approach.

What tips can you share to help us?

It’s funny that you ask. When I first started as an e-learning designer, I thought everything could be fixed with an e-learning course. I then realized that e-learning wasn’t the solution for every learning problem, so I thought my only options were e-learning or instructor-led training (ILT).

Now, when I look back at how I viewed the creation of a training intervention was all wrong. Creating an effective training program isn’t a binary choice between one thing or another. It’s not e-learning or instructor-led training or a video versus a job aid.


Because learning isn’t a singular event but rather a process that occurs over time, we should be creating training that can promote learning in several different ways. And that’s blended learning!

So, how can you design blended learning? Here are a few tips to help you get started.

Tip #1: Focus on Performance and Learning Outcomes First

When a stakeholder asks you to develop some training, they’ve often already determined how they want it to be delivered. And while it’s easy to go along with their request, it prevents you from exploring whether training will fix the issue and alternative methods of delivery.

So, the next time you’re asked to create training, take a step back and look at the performance and learning outcomes and goals you need to achieve. How you achieve those goals, whether it be with an e-learning course, a job aid, or something else, can be determined later.


Tip #2: Align Each Learning Outcome With One or More Training Objects

Designing blended learning isn’t just about delivering the same content in multiple formats. Instead, blended learning is about achieving the desired learning outcomes with the most appropriate training objects.

Once you understand the performance and learning outcomes you need to achieve, you can determine whether you need to create a training experience that helps transfer knowledge, provides an opportunity for practice and application, feedback and evaluation, and continued performance support. Oftentimes, you’ll be looking to create a training experience that accomplishes a combination of these things.

With that knowledge in hand, you can then match each learning outcome with one or more training objects. Whether you create a video to transfer knowledge, an interactive scenario to provide practice, a simulation to provide application or job aid to provide performance support, the options and combinations are endless.

Tip #3: Stop Doing the Familiar

Finally, as you seek to create blended learning, I’d encourage you to stop doing the familiar. Push yourself, your stakeholders, and your learners outside of their comfort zones and break the status quo.

Creating a blended learning experience will require you to think outside the box and do things differently than you’re accustomed to. Once you embrace this, it’ll open you up to creative, unique training solutions wouldn’t have conceived previously.

I hope these tips help. Best of luck!


Do you have a learning question you’d like me to tackle? You can email them to [email protected]. Also, visit the Ask a Trainer hub to check out all of your questions and my answers.

We welcome your comments and engagement on these posts. All posts are reviewed to ensure appropriateness based on ATD’s requirements for postings in our online communities.

Please note: Content shared in this column is provided by the author and may not reflect the perspectives of ATD.

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