Exploring the Potential of Blended Learning.

Written by Tim Newham

23 August 2023

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Blended learning is a growing buzzword in L&D, but what is it and how can you use it practically?

In the diverse landscape of education, one term that has been gaining considerable traction is blended learning. What traditionally has been confined to the four walls of a classroom is now expanding beyond, merging digital media with conventional teaching methods.

In this blog, we’ll go through:

  • What blended learning is
  • Why blended learning is important
  • How to use blended learning in your L&D strategy

Let’s get started.

What is blended learning?

Blended learning, also known as hybrid or mixed-mode learning, is an approach to education that combines face-to-face classroom setting with online educational materials and opportunities for interaction online.

It’s a balanced integration of traditional teaching techniques and digital innovations designed to improve learning and teaching efficiency. Blended learning involves combining on the job experience, informal and formal/classroom training with the flexibility of technology enhanced learning methods, including flipped classrooms.

It’s about making education more flexible, adaptive, and student-centred, essentially “blending” the best of both worlds.

Why is blended learning important?

A key driver for adopting a blended approach to learning is often the need to reduce the cost of learning through the optimization of resources and the time spent on undertaking learning activities. However, adopting a blended approach to learning has other important benefits, such as improving the effectiveness of learning, increasing compliance, fostering a more positive attitude towards learning and development, and extending the potential reach of learning across an organisation.

We are finding that many organisations were restricted by the technical capability of their existing learning management system and are now implementing Totara Learn to unlock the full potential of technology and a flexible blended learning approach.

Other key benefits include:

Enhanced flexibility

With blended learning, the rigidity of standard classroom timing no longer binds students.

They can access instructional materials and assignments online at their convenience. This flexibility also extends to teachers who have the freedom to organize their instruction time and materials effectively.

Personalised learning

Blended learning allows for personalized learning experiences. It lets students learn at their pace, spending more time on challenging areas and exploring interest-driven subjects further.

It empowers them to take control of their learning process, fostering independence and self-motivation.

Improved learning retention

Blended learning can lead to improved retention as diverse teaching materials cater to different learning styles.

Engaging digital multimedia content such as videos, animations or interactive quizzes can make learning more enjoyable and hence enhance memory retention.

Efficient use of resources

Combining digital education with traditional classroom methods can lead to efficient resource use.

Learning materials are effortlessly accessible online, reducing the need for paper-based resources. It also allows for instant feedback through various assessment tools available online.

Way to use blended learning

In the context of blended learning, we’d encourage you to consider the following to determine whether you are embracing the full potential of technology or are also constrained by the technical capability of your LMS:

  • Are you able to offer a sophisticated range of technology enabled learning activities, including social learning, all within the same course? For example, e-learning, news feeds, online discussion forums, chat rooms, wikis, online quizzes / assessments, surveys etc. Adopting this blended approach to learning, allows for training to be delivered in the most effective way and optimizes any time that is required in face to face training.
  • Are you able to offer learning activities across multiple devices?
  • Are you able to give your staff the ability to design their own learning pathways with multiple ways of achieving a common competence?
  • Are learners able to easily see what learning they need to complete, by when and what options they have for achieving competencies?
  • Are managers able to manage their teams learning pathways through graphical dashboards and customised reports that can be scheduled and emailed on a regular basis?
  • When multiple learning pathways exist, are you able to easily report on individuals that have achieved competencies?
  • Are you able to automatically target learning and pathways to particular audiences based on your organisations hierarchy or target learners using a wide range of HR data to build complex requirements?
  • Are you able to award badges and gamify content to motivate and engage learners?

Some key methods for blended learning include:

  • Flipped classrooms
  • Station-rotation model
  • Flex model
  • Online driver model

Let’s look at each in more detail:

Flipped classroom

In a flipped classroom, the traditional learning model is reversed. Students first explore new topics online at home, followed by practical exercises or discussions in class.

Station-rotation model

The station-rotation model divides the classroom into several ‘stations’ where students rotate through at their own pace. They can be a mix of teacher-led instruction, online learning, and practical group work.

Flex model

Here, online learning forms the foundation of their educational experience. Students work through online instructional materials at their own pace, but a teacher is available for face-to-face support when needed.

Online driver model

In an online driver model, the entire course is delivered online with face-to-face check-ins. It’s ideal for remote learning settings and offers maximum flexibility to the students.

This initiative opens up myriad possibilities, paving the path for a more personalized and effective learning environment. It’s more than just the latest educational buzzword; it’s about transforming the way we approach education and unlocking the full potential of students in the digital age.

Using Totara and Think to provide blended learning

Think’s learning management system and supporting solutions use Totara’s basecode. This open-source code means that we can tweak the features already available in Totara to give you a totally bespoke platform.

Plus, with Think in play, you can offer initiatives like gamification, rewards and badges, manage mixed learning pathways and so much more.

Book a demo to see how we support blended learning.