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What is Blended Learning?

Tightly integrating online content and classroom instruction can pay off where it counts: In the minds of those learning and on your company’s bottom line.

Also known as hybrid or mixed-mode training, blended learning is the combination of traditional face-to-face instruction, as old as Aristotle’s first tutoring session with Alexander the Great, and online instruction where the pace, place, and path are controlled by the learner.

Through a blended learning approach, overall classroom time can be reduced while simultaneously reducing expenses related to instructor travel. Learner engagement increases as more time is spent “on task” through pre- and post-class follow-up work. The advantages of in-person instruction, including all of the the rigor, personal interaction, and real-time Q&A, combine with the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of online instruction to make for a potent learning package.

Online + Offline Combination is Key.

What makes blended learning work is the right pre- and post classroom activities and the right kind of classroom-based instruction, all timed together for maximum effect. It’s the combination that is key. Too much in-person lecture or follow-on assignments that border on “busy work” and fail to challenge learners can quickly turn individuals off and negatively impact training results.

What Blended Learning Isn’t.

Blended learning is not new. Organizations and academic institutions have been blending online learning with in-classroom instruction to varying degrees since the dawn of the Internet. What makes blended learning different is the deliberate, systematic approach seen only within the last 10 years.

Blended learning is not adding technology for technology’s sake. Whatever eLearning or mLearning tools added to the mix must make sense for both the learning audience and the overall organizational training. To be considered blended learning, one must do more than simply show a TED talk during a course of instruction and discuss the merits of the speaker’s message. Combining the talk, viewed at the learners leisure, with an online discussion, and then bringing the most impactful points to an in-class discussion would be closer to hitting the blended mark.

So what? Why Blended Learning Works.

Blended learning works because it combines the advantages of face-to-face instruction and online learning while negating the disadvantages of each. It also gives learning managers and training directors access to data, like a learner’s knowledge level before stepping into the classroom, retainment of information weeks and months later, as well as knowledge implementation measures, i.e. are your sales reps actually applying what they learned while on a sales call?

Finally, blended learning can serve as a gap between the in-person training your organization has grown accustomed to and fully-online learning programs that are gaining in popularity across industries.

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