What is Blended Learning? Models, Benefits & Tips

What is Blended Learning? Models, Benefits & Tips

In today’s rapidly evolving educational landscape, traditional training is being transformed. Online delivery has taken the world by storm, but there are a lot of disadvantages to using a purely digital delivery method.

Blended learning emerges as a beacon of innovation, marrying the richness of face-to-face teaching with the limitless potential of online tools. This hybrid approach not only caters to diverse learning styles but also empowers students to take charge of their educational journey, creating a pressing need to understand its dynamics fully.

Whether you’re an educator seeking to enhance engagement or a student aiming for flexibility and depth in learning, here’s how you can make the most of this revolutionary educational model.

What is Blended Learning?

Blended Learning is an educational approach that combines traditional in-person instruction with online and digital methods to achieve learning objectives. Often referred to as hybrid learning, the amount of each delivery method can vary.

The Blended Learning method is much more than just adding computers and internet access to training, it represents a foundational shift in the way trainers and learners approach learning materials. This hybrid model leverages the strengths of both face-to-face teaching and technology-enhanced learning tools, creating a more flexible and personalised learning experience.

The division between the face-to-face and online components will vary from training to training. The online component may be minimal, simply complementing an in-class course or it may represent the bulk of the learning.

Blended Learning vs Distance Learning

Blended Learning is different to distance or self-paced learning, which means learners are not in the classroom and could be at home or in any other location. The work may be under timed conditions or self-paced. During distanced online learning, there isn’t any formal interaction between the student, cohort or trainer.

in class design training with digital software

6 Blended Learning Models

These 6 models are the main types of blended learning that you will encounter.

1. Rotation Model

The rotation blended learning model involves students rotating on a fixed schedule or at the teacher’s discretion between different learning modalities, such as online instruction at home and face-to-face teaching in school. Sub-models include:

  • Station Rotation: Students rotate through stations within the classroom, which include different types of instructional activities.
  • Individual Rotation Model: This model allows students to rotate through stations, but unlike the Station Rotation model, each student has an individualised schedule that is not necessarily the same as every other student’s. This schedule is typically determined by an algorithm or teacher assessment of student needs.
  • Lab Rotation: Students rotate between a classroom and a computer lab for online learning.

2. Flipped Classroom

In the Flipped Classroom blended learning model, traditional educational dynamics are inverted. Students engage with lectures at home via digital platforms, freeing up classroom time for interactive and practical activities. This approach allows for hands-on learning and application during face-to-face sessions, enhancing understanding through active participation rather than passive listening.

3. Flex Learning Model

In the flex model, online learning is the backbone of student instruction, but teachers provide support and intervention as needed on a flexible, as-needed basis. This blended learning model is common in personalised learning environments where students’ work is primarily online but supported by teacher-led instruction.

4. A La Carte Model

Students take one or more courses entirely online to supplement their traditional school experience. The A La Carte blended learning model allows students to take courses not available at their school and manage their schedule with greater flexibility.

5. Enriched Virtual Model

An extension of the flipped classroom, the Enriched Virtual model involves students completing the majority of coursework online outside of school but attending school for required face-to-face learning sessions with a teacher. This model typically applies to older students who can manage independent learning schedules.

6. Project-Based Blended Learning Model

Project-based blended learning integrates online learning with face-to-face support to engage students in complex, project-based learning tasks. Students might use online resources to conduct research, collaborate with peers through digital platforms, and use technology tools to create project deliverables, while also participating in regular classroom sessions for guidance, brainstorming, and presentations.

employee training with blended learning software

Benefits of Blended Learning

Different types of blended learning offers different benefits, but these are the main advantages that trainees, trainers, and organisations will experience.

Benefits for Students/Trainees

  • Enhanced Flexibility: Ability to access materials and engage with coursework at convenient times, accommodating different learning styles, schedules, and paces.
  • Increased Engagement: Interactive and multimedia content can make learning more engaging and enjoyable, improving motivation and participation.
  • Personalised Learning Experience: Adaptive learning technologies and flexible course structures allow students to learn at their own pace, focusing on their strengths and areas for improvement.
  • Improved Technological Proficiency: Regular use of digital tools and platforms enhances students’ digital literacy, an essential skill in today’s job market.
  • Broader Access to Resources: Online components provide access to a wide range of materials, including videos, articles, and external websites, enriching the learning experience.
  • Real-World Skills Development: Project-based and collaborative activities foster power skills like teamwork, problem-solving, and communication.
  • Achieve Higher Learner Outcomes: Encouraging individual and collaborative learning facilitates the type of environment required to develop a deeper understanding of unit material. Research has shown that learning is more likely to occur and is enriched when learners go beyond the passive tasks of simply listening, reading or viewing.

Benefits for Educators

  • Flexibility in Teaching: Ability to design and implement a variety of teaching methods and tools to enhance the educational experience.
  • Enhanced Interaction with Students: Digital learning platforms can facilitate more personalised interaction with students, even outside of traditional classroom hours.
  • Professional Development: Opportunities to develop digital skills and integrate new teaching technologies and methodologies.
  • Increased Efficiency: Automation of routine tasks (like grading quizzes) and use of LMS features can free up time for more critical educational activities.
  • Better Student Performance Insights: Access to detailed analytics on student engagement and performance helps tailor instruction more effectively.

Benefits for Organisations

  • Cost Efficiency: Reduced need for physical space and resources can lower operational costs. Adopting digital technology allows paperless learning and assessment, which saves expenses in the long term as well as frees up administrative resources and creates a more sustainable business model.
  • Scalability: Easier to scale up training initiatives to accommodate more learners without significant additional costs.
  • Enhanced Tracking and Reporting: Digital tools facilitate detailed tracking of learner progress and more effective reporting on educational outcomes.
  • Increased Reach: Ability to offer training and education to remote or geographically dispersed employees.
  • ​​Appeal to a wider market: Offering part of a course online will appeal to the more tech-savvy learners, while not excluding those who still desire the support of studying face-to-face.
  • Faster Content Updates: Online elements can be updated quickly to reflect the latest industry knowledge and practices.
  • Consistency in Training: Standardised online training modules ensure that all trainees receive the same quality of instruction.

3 Strategies to Successfully Implement Blended Learning

To be successful and provide trainees with a quality experience, blended learning must be thoughtfully and deliberately implemented. Consideration must be given to each unit and assessment as well as the different scenarios and environments in which you’ll be supporting your learners. Technology should be integrated effectively to enhance the learning experience for trainers and learners.

Here are three practical blended learning strategies that training providers and businesses can adopt to enable a successful blended delivery approach.

1. Adopt accessible and easy-to-use technologies

We can get blindsided by wanting to use the trendiest learning technologies for blended delivery— like Virtual Reality (VR). Unless the training is high risk it’s unlikely that VR is appropriate or most effective. Complex technology-based learning may distract students because they’d spend more time figuring out how these technologies work rather than focusing on the training and completing assessments. Not to mention how costly they can be.

Adopt technology that your students are already familiar with to make learning easier. For example, Cloud Assess is training software designed so that the learner simply logs in and completes their work with clear progression. Kool Kids Training College’s Compliance Manager states, “If you can use Facebook, you can use Cloud Assess.” Select a technology that enables learning rather than adds to the pressures.

2. Empower facilitators to impart knowledge effectively

The success of blended learning lies in how well facilitators understand and deliver it. Technology is moving rapidly and it’s important that providers are constantly adapting and delivering training in the right way, regardless of the available technology.

There are two excellent ways to ensure trainer skills are sufficient for delivering blended training programmes:

  1. Immersive training where facilitators experience blended delivery as students, not trainers.
  2. Regular professional development within this area to continuously learn and improve.

3. Match teaching methods to clear objectives (and right technologies)

Effective blended learning hinges on the strategic alignment of teaching methods, training objectives, and the technologies used to deliver educational content.

It begins with defining clear, measurable objectives for each course or module, ensuring that each educational element is purposeful and supports the desired outcomes. Choosing training methods that best fit these objectives is crucial. Developing course content that allows students to participate in active learning rather than passive is key to a successful blended learning experience. If we look at the learning pyramid only 5% of knowledge is absorbed by passively learning.

learning pyramid

Integrating the right technologies is essential to complement and enhance these teaching methods. For example, if fostering interactive engagement is a goal, incorporating tools like online discussion boards, real-time quizzes, and collaborative tools can promote active participation and provide immediate feedback. Continuous assessment through these technologies helps adjust teaching methods and content delivery based on learners’ progress, ensuring the learning experience remains dynamic and effective.

5 Blended Learning Examples

A blended learning delivery approach doesn’t always require a wide range of technology or devices. It can merely mean adopting a few tools, used effectively, to achieve the desired learning outcome.

  • Example 1: Using online resources to facilitate a course: The trainer may communicate via email and online forums, upload notes, worksheets, presentations, etc. regularly.
  • Example 2: Using online resources to communicate and collaborate within a course: The trainer may upload videos, podcasts, quizzes and interactive presentations while using forums to facilitate discussion.
  • Example 3: Using online resources as the main element of the course: The trainer fully integrates digital technology into the delivery of the course.
  • Example 4: A multinational corporation develops a blended learning program for its global sales team. The program combines self-paced online modules covering product knowledge with interactive, virtual role-playing sessions and occasional face-to-face sales strategy workshops.
  • Example 5: A company launches a leadership blended learning program for mid-level managers, combining online leadership courses with quarterly in-person retreats. These retreats focus on team-building exercises, real-world problem-solving, and networking.

Blended Learning Software Solution

Using a fit-for-purpose solution that will meet the needs of your training and assessment strategies is key. If you settle for second rate you are likely to run into trouble when it comes to managing your compliance requirements. An online solution that is not fit-for-purpose may lack functionality that gives you the control over the validity and authenticity of your assessments.

Why is this? Well, most Learning Management Systems were designed for universities and schools who use them for the transfer of knowledge. Vocational Education and Training and corporate training are driven by different sets of rules. Both of these sectors need to ensure that they are complying with the necessary regulatory standards.

In the context of ensuring effective compliance and enhancing educational outcomes, Cloud Assess emerges as an exemplary digital solution tailored for blended learning environments. Designed specifically to meet the rigorous demands of Vocational Education and Training (VET) and workplace training, Cloud Assess supports a range of assessment methods and provides robust reporting tools to uphold the integrity and quality of assessments​​.

Its platform not only facilitates a seamless transition from traditional to digital modes but also integrates easily with existing systems, ensuring that training organisations can deliver consistent, compliant, and high-quality education. With Cloud Assess, institutions are equipped to manage both online and offline learning experiences effectively, making it an ideal choice for organisations aiming to excel in both delivery and compliance of training​​. Give a free trial a go if you want to see how Cloud Assess can bring blended learning to your organisation.

blended training course with laptop

Advantages of Blended Learning Software

  • Ease of use to navigate and manage workload: This will appeal to learners no matter their level of digital literacy. Whether they are tech savvy or not, an easy to use online solution should make it easy for all learners to find units, assessments, blended learning resources, calendar, etc.
  • Real-time submission and feedback: Communicate in a timely manner with all of your learners throughout their journey. With an online solution you can set up workflows that notifies them when assessments have been released, set up due date reminders, let them know when assessments are marked and even send out links to surveys when required.
  • Easily consume engaging content: Videos, podcasts, presentations, etc. can all be made available to learners online. Embedding media into your assessments enables learners to access vital sources of information when they need it.
  • Portable and flexible: Learners have the ability to access records at any time, with no need to carry around paperwork.

Blended Learning in Real-Life Scenarios

Blended Learning in Vocational Education & Training

Blended Learning is a good fit for the VET sector because it requires learners to apply theoretical knowledge in a practical setting or context. This can be achieved by incorporating workplace activities into vocational education using online resources.

The right fit-for-purpose online solution will allow learners, assessors, trainers, and 3rd parties to actively participate in every step of the learning journey, keeping compliance top of mind.

For example, practical assessments can often be conducted offsite and either assessed live via video conference or recorded and submitted for assessment at a later time.

Blended Learning in Corporate Training

Blended learning is highly effective in corporate settings, particularly because it aligns with the dynamic needs of modern businesses and their diverse workforce. By integrating online and in-person training methods, organisations can offer flexible, scalable, and engaging blended learning programs. This approach supports the continuous professional development of employees across various departments and geographical locations.

Tailored employee training software provide seamless interaction among employees, trainers, and management, ensuring that everyone is involved in the training process. This collaborative environment fosters a culture of continuous learning and improvement, which is vital for keeping pace with industry changes and innovations.

For instance, soft skills training, which is crucial in leadership and management roles, can be enhanced through interactive webinars and virtual simulations. These online sessions can then be complemented by in-person workshops where practical, team-based exercises are conducted.

Technical skills development can utilise online tutorials for theoretical learning, paired with on-the-job training where employees apply new skills in real work settings. Additionally, off-the-job training can be conducted using online blended learning courses and virtual labs, allowing learners to explore topics deeper without the pressures of the work environment.

Integrate Hybrid Learning in Your Organisation

Blended learning represents a dynamic fusion of traditional and digital educational practices, crucial for meeting today’s diverse training needs. By leveraging tools like Cloud Assess, organisations can ensure compliance while offering a more engaging, personalised learning path.

This integration of face-to-face interaction with innovative online resources enhances flexibility and educational reach, proving indispensable across various educational and corporate settings. Embrace the future of learning with Cloud Assess and discover how our solutions can transform your educational strategies. Try Cloud Assess today and elevate your blended learning capabilities to new heights.

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