The Beginner's Guide To Blending Live and Computer-Based Training

Your learners will thank you for discovering the best way of delivering educational materials.

Blended learning takes the best of in-person training and melds it with the best of online training. It’s a principle that predates e-learning, because teachers have been mixing facilitation methods for years as they mix different facilitation methods, resource formats, and technologies. What makes it relevant to the e-learning world is part of the teaching occurs with an Internet connection. Here's a fairly typical format for a blended training program we see at Talance: Typical blended learning format

Why Use Blended Learning?

Blended learning is a flexible approach to addressing a range of learning styles and also adapting content to the right format. For example, communication techniques might be better addressed in a live setting, while HIPAA regulations are easy to teach online. Studies have shown that it's easier to keep a group engaged for longer with a blended program.

How To Use Blended Learning

The first step is to figure out what you really need. This means conducting a needs assessment, which I'll assume you already did. If not, read about the importance of a needs assessment. If you offer only in-person training, you probably already know about this method's benefits--and drawbacks. You can segue into blended learning by looking critically at what portions of your program can easily be delivered online, or those pieces that lack consistency. Depending on your technical capacity, it might be relatively straightforward to convert those into an online format. An easy way to augment your live program is to look at off-the-shelf online courses that you can supplement your own program. There are many options for these ready-to-go offerings, but here are some examples of courses we offer for health workers through our project CHWTraining. Some organizations offer only online training, often relying heavily on off-the-shelf courses and deploying them to staff members. This can work out fine, but you might be able to increase engagement and retention if you supplement with in-person elements. For example, you might have an in-person kickoff session to introduce learners to the technology and subject they're about to learn. Or you might assign coaches to teams to apply what they learned online in the field. If you're starting from scratch and need to figure out what makes the most sense offering online and what should be in person, you can follow this helpful example from Learning Solutions magazine's article "Content Analysis: Key to Excellence in Your Blended Learning." The author explains how to think of a course as "a collection of content, which can be organized in a ring binder or a folder in a computer." Looking at those pieces of content, you can decide which can be better delivered online, and which can be better delivered in person:
In face-to-face learning, these materials would appear in the form of reading materials, handouts, worksheets, presentation media, and testing materials. In self-paced e-Learning, raw media elements would contain multimedia, including audio, animation, and videos as well as text and images. Also, assessments in self-paced e-Learning are designed such that an instructor’s presence is not required.
An important takeaway for any administrator thinking of integrating blended learning is that it is not about eliminating anyone's job or replacing a human with technology. Blended learning is a way to serve your learners better by enhancing their experience and by giving trainers more teaching tools.

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How Washington's Office of Healthy Communities Uses Blended Learning to Train up to 500 Employees a Year Download Talance's free case study to learn how this state department created a successful program to train community health workers.
 

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