New normal lifestyle. Online learning or E-learning. Blended learning education anytime. Social connect at home.
ATD Blog

Overcome Your Blended Learning Phobia

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

As COVID-19 has reinforced, blended learning programs can be incredibly effective. We can meet learners wherever they are by providing the learner with a variety of content formats including virtual classes, short videos, quick reference guides, simulations, and more.

Some of us work in traditional environments in which the classroom is the centerpiece of training. Your organization may expect learning to take place with a facilitator. In their opinion, if there isn’t a person in front of a camera, teaching from a slide deck, it’s not “real” training. Sometimes the perception comes from your learners; other times it’s from your leaders.

Your leadership may ask, “Why would you go to the trouble of moving to blended learning?” Because it helps you efficiently serve your workforce. When used correctly, blended learning fortifies the learning experience and helps the learner retain information. And it helps your organization reach an increasingly tech savvy employee base that expects learning to be as easy to access as Google regardless of what time it is or where they are.

Become the training equivalent of Google. Give your learners options, and they will take advantage of those options, especially in the current environment. Provide them with content that can be read or viewed on demand in addition to virtual classroom experiences.

Look for quick wins:

  • Is your current program delivered mostly through the virtual classroom? Replace small pieces of classroom content with videos, documents, or simulations. Or provide pre- and post-work in these formats.
  • Include virtual classroom activities where learners do research online or discuss in breakout groups before returning to the overall virtual class to share their findings.
  • Give learners the opportunity to interact with mentors and subject matter experts within your organization. Organize coffee chats and virtual communities so learners can benefit from informal conversations with more experienced employees.

Start small. If you encounter resistance from the top, start at the bottom with one little group of learners.


As you likely know, shifting your organization’s approach to training is a major change. Resistance to change is driven by fear—often fear of failure or fear of the unknown. To help your organization accept change, try out new ideas on a small group of learners. Get their feedback and incorporate it into the program. If a course element isn’t effective according to your learners, ask why. Refine instead of remove. Tweak instead of make sweeping changes.

Know that one round of revisions will not be enough. Like any training product, a blended learning program is a work in progress. What happens if something doesn’t work? You take it out. You try something else. Don’t give up.

Sometimes it isn’t the organization as a whole that fears blended learning but the trainers themselves.


“You're getting rid of my job!” they’ll scream. “Instructor-led training is what the learners want!” (If all your organization has ever delivered is instructor-led training, how would learners know that’s what they prefer over everything else?)

It’s natural to fear change. Blended learning necessitates a change in the learning professional’s role. Those on your team who see change as exciting will dance. Those who fear technology will hide. But as this year has shown, change happens regardless of whether we ask for it. And the change to blended learning is spreading across the entire learning and development industry.

Building the acceptance of change starts with your own team. Introduce your team to blended learning elements and give them time to embrace it. Give them time to become good at it. Remember that trainers are learners too, and they need time to adapt to new responsibilities. Give them time not just to become competent but confident. Enthusiastic even. Get the buy-in of your immediate team and let their love of blended learning motivate change in your organization.

About the Author

Katrina Marie Baker manages digital learning at Adobe, having previously worked for Adobe as lead evangelist in the learning technology space. Her public-facing work includes keynote sessions, master classes, and conference sessions for the Association for Talent Development, Learning Guild, Training Magazine, and others. She also maintains YouTube channel Learn Tech Collective and a free virtual classroom series by the same name. Baker has authored LMS Success (2nd ed., 2018), The LMS Selection Checklist (2nd ed., 2018), and Corporate Training Tips & Tricks (2017).

Baker is a former director of technology and interim vice president of finance with the ATD Los Angeles Chapter. She has worked in people and project management and global training capacities for Fortune 500 retailer Whole Foods Market and Global 100 law firms Cooley LLP and Latham & Watkins LLP. Previously, Baker worked in voice-over, music, and video production for clients such as Disney Channel and Adult Swim.

Baker’s independent consulting firm has advised organizations in aerospace, construction, healthcare, legal, retail, technology, transportation, and utilities. She holds an SPHR and certifications in employment law and educational technology integration from Penn State University.

Sign In to Post a Comment
Great article. I agree with you that the educational process faces many conflicts that we have to overcome together, not only teacher will be able to do that. however some leaders in different organizations take decisions on the behave of teachers specially regarding the suitable E- learning platform or the suitable assessment method that can be used to evaluate our students.
Sorry! Something went wrong on our end. Please try again later.
Great article. Many of the resistance points you mention we have seen in our own organization. It's important to remember that our trainers are learners as well, and this has been a year of change in their personal lives as well. Thanks for the read.
Thanks Jessica! The environment we're in definitely affects how we teach, and how comfortable we are with change. We all need time to adapt!
Sorry! Something went wrong on our end. Please try again later.
Sorry! Something went wrong on our end. Please try again later.
I really appreciate this article. Blended learning doesn't mean that we get rid of instructor-led training. Rather, we're supplementing the training so that there are more touchpoints, engagement moments, and opportunities to reflect. Your point on allowing options for diving deeper also resonates. All of this aligns so much with self-directed learning. Thanks for this read!
Thanks Chelsea! Exactly, I agree. Blended learning includes all delivery modalities, including instructor-led. It gives us the freedom to present content in whatever format serves it best. And, to your point about self-directed learning, we can allow the learner to choose how they want to consume content. We can offer the same content as a live course or a self-paced e-learning experience for instance, and the learning can choose what they prefer.
Sorry! Something went wrong on our end. Please try again later.
Sorry! Something went wrong on our end. Please try again later.
Sorry! Something went wrong on our end. Please try again later.