MIT defines it as: “...structured opportunities to learn, which use more than one learning or training method, inside or outside the classroom. This definition includes different learning or instructional methods (lecture, discussion, guided practice, reading, games, case study, simulation), different delivery methods (live classroom or computer mediated), different scheduling (synchronous or asynchronous) and different levels of guidance (individual, instructor or expert led, or group/social learning).”
More simply, a blended learning solution is a learning modality that combines offline and online aspects to get the best possible result for the students.
What are synchronous and asynchronous modes of learning?
The above definition for blended learning solutions refers to synchronous vs. asynchronous scheduling of learning. While the rest of the definition is fairly self-explanatory, this particular portion requires a little explanation.
Synchronous mode refers to methods of delivery where everyone who is participating in the training is doing so at the same time. Examples include webinars, classroom instruction, video-conferencing and chats. The advantage of this mode is that the students are not working in isolation and benefit from ‘real-time’ group discussion.
Asynchronous mode refers to methods of delivery where each student can access the learning modules – typically e-Learning in this case – at their own time and speed. The advantage of this mode, in addition to the flexibility for the e-learner, is the reality that a student might form more thought out or considered questions and responses when they are not pressured to do so in ‘real-time’.
What makes a Blended Learning Solution ideal for the corporate environment?
Leveraging the best of both offline and online modalities makes it possible for organizations to formulate training that is:
- Most effective for a maximum number of learners and incorporating modes that work best for different types of training. For example, some training is best done on-site where machines or specific tools can be used or coordination with other employees is needed. Other training does not require that type of physical interaction and can therefore be created in an online environment.
- Maximizes a learner’s time. For example, if the training needs to have some aspects in person but other aspects / testing can be done in an e-Learning mode and on the learner’s own schedule, the learner can leverage the schedule that works best for them, making them more likely to internalize the information being provided.
- It is cost-effective. If certain modules of learning can be done online, with asynchronous scheduling, employees are not required to travel or attend in person training for all of their training, saving the organization a significant amount of money in travel / space rental / trainer costs.
Will a Blended Learning Solution work for you or your organization?
Consider the following questions:
- Is in person interaction more critical than presenting the information alone?
- Will the content raise questions that are best dealt with by an instructor?
- Can the e-learner connect the content with their own experiences / work roles on their own or does that require a level of interaction that goes beyond the e-Learning modality?
- Would an in-person workshop or other facilitated training experience reinforce the content more effectively or not?
How to make a Blended Learning Solution work for everyone?
As we said above, a blended learning solution can be effective for a maximum number of learners with different skill levels and capacities. But how to ensure this is the key: to create a shared learning experience:
“Optimizing face-to-face contact; applying theory into practice on the job; enhancing the facilitator’s ability to lead by example; and leveraging the power of presence.” Source
A blended learning solution can present the best of both worlds: online and offline. It’s a question of discovering what is best for each module of training that your organization wishes to engage in.
Have you tried using a blended learning solution in your organization? What mode of learning has worked best for you? Tell us about it in the comments below!