With today’s digital transformation sweeping through businesses, closing skill gaps in emerging technologies has never been more crucial for organizations. It is not always the answer to hiring. The extreme shortage of candidates for roles in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, Data Science, and other disciplines is one reason why in-house training and upgrading your existing staff makes the smartest, fastest, and most cost-effective solution. Here we are going to review the webinar’s main points, concentrating on the benefits of blended learning.
Blended learning, also known as “flipped classroom,” “hybrid learning” or “mixed learning,” is an approach that combines instructor-led classroom training with online content, usually in the form of on-demand videos reviewed by learners outside the classroom. The live instruction may be either face-to-face or online (via a live virtual classroom or even two-way video), or there may not be a live lecture at all.
Blended learning can also combine other elements besides content and instructors. For example, in a blended learning study published in 2018, one university completely excluded lectures (face-to-face or virtual) but instead used a mix of videos, digitized reading materials, pre- and post-learning assessments, practice exercises with feedback and weekly surveys, with face-to-face elements in the form of study groups, presentations, formative assessments and other peer interactions.
Benefits of Blended Learning
Blended education is a fundamental shift in methods of teaching. It has the ability to maximize results in ways that conventional teaching can not do for individual students. Blended delivery modes enable each aspect to be taught at that particular stage of the training using the most appropriate medium for the topic.
Blended learning, which has been extensively studied and implemented in K–12 and university education, also provides an ideal solution for improving corporate training, particularly when it comes to skills for the rapidly evolving digital economy. There are five reasons for this.
1. Various people learn different things in various ways
It is quite common knowledge that different people learn differently. In 1992, Fleming and Mills researchers created a popular model of learning styles called VARK: Visual (when people learn best through sight), Aural or Auditory (when people learn by listening or speaking), Read / Written (when people learn when items are presented as words) and Kinesthetic (when people learn through physical use or practice).
Many studies have split these modalities into even more distinct styles of learning, incorporating Logical (when people prefer to use logic or reasoning to understand concepts), Social (when people learn by communicating with others) and Solitary (when people learn best through self-study).
With so many different learning styles to address, a blended learning solution makes sense. For people who learn visually or through reading and ideally alone, online self-paced video delivery would be the best mode. Social and aural learners would gain most from live instructor-led classrooms. Meanwhile, hands-on practice from engaging in applied learning projects would satisfy kinesthetic and logical learners.
2. Using multiple methods dramatically increases engagement, learning and retention
Numerous studies show how learning is enhanced by combining various activities with more passive study for most people. Ideally, these could include the “person” dimension of communication, such as threaded conversations, video conferencing and internal platforms on social media to exchange and compare information and to facilitate and demonstrate the successful application of newly learned skills to the workplace.
Through using as many forms of training delivery as possible (video, live teacher, social and practical), you could fill any gaps in knowledge left through modes that were less than suitable for the particular topic or learner.
3. Learners can control their learning pace
When people have some control over their learning, they learn best. Selection decreases learner apathy, relieves some of the learning process’s pressure and motivates individuals to interact with the curriculum. Corporate learners are different from traditional students. Most employees are dealing with time constraints because they need to balance heavy workloads and personal lives. Also, with a wide range of knowledge and experience with the course topic, their coworkers come to the table.
Instead of having the pace set by the group’s fastest or slowest learner, blended learning allows employees to study online as quickly as they can. They can skip past familiar information or pause, look again, and search for additional resources. When they are most alert and even take breaks when needed, they can also access the content. This “flipped” blended approach allows learners to start with the knowledge they have gained on their own and then supplement it with the personal attention of teacher-led classroom training (either virtual or on-site), plus the group interaction of social learning and, finally, the practical practice of applied learning projects.
As Clifford Maxwell, an educational researcher at the Clayton Christensen Institute, noted, “some element of student control is critical; otherwise, blended learning is no different from an online curriculum beaming teacher to an electronic whiteboard student classroom.”
4. Saves Money
Organizations of any size will maximize investment returns by saving costs while increasing engagement and retention by incorporating eLearning into instructor-led programs. Blended learning reduces instructor fees, company travel expenses, and training materials; enables global distance learning; and can greatly reduce the impact of training on day-to-day operations and on the employees themselves.
For example, “Ernst & Young, by enhancing the quality and scalability with eLearning, cut its training costs by 35 percent,” says Mark Rose, director and founder of Creativedge Training and Development. “About 2,900 hours of classroom training were compressed into 700 hours of web-based learning, 200 hours of distance learning and 500 hours of classroom instruction, a 53 percent break.”
5. Flexible and Modular
Blended learning is modular and scalable, both upwards and downwards, especially useful for big, multinational enterprises. It takes a lot of time to set up and participate in dedicated classroom training, making it not economic on an ad hoc basis.
Online learning libraries alone, however, lack the attention, realistic exercise, and direct input to maximize learning. By contrast, by providing easily accessible training content backed by opportunities for live virtual-instructor interaction and applied projects, a blended learning program allows employees to quickly upgrade to a particular technology or subject. As eLearning architect Troy Foster says, “Modular courses increase mobility, thus allowing the company to capitalize on new business opportunities as they emerge.”
It is ideal for a dispersed workforce training. 63 percent of companies have remote employees, according to the Future Workforce Report of Upwork. Blended learning, by complementing online content with regional instructors at any time, allows both scalability and the cultural personalization needed to achieve global education. Boeing, the world’s largest aerospace company with 330,000 employees in 28 countries, is successfully using a mix of learning and development methodologies, from online modules to “lunch-and-learn” one-on-one training, and live virtual classrooms.
A Final Big Benefit
You don’t have to invent anything or rely on ad hoc fixes to increase the effectiveness of your employee training program with a blended learning approach. Proven solutions are already available from third-party vendors who can provide and guide you to digital upskilling in the best customized blended learning solution. Jane Hart, editor of Modern Workplace Learning Magazine, says, “It’s not a matter of having a ‘ bolt-on ‘ strategy on existing training practices (‘ typically social and mobile ‘) for real transformation to take place, but rather ‘ a full, meaningful re-conception ‘ of what it means to support all ways of learning in the modern digital workplace.”