Blended learning has long been a popular corporate training design approach. Blended programs help engage learners by providing training content in multiple formats to maximize effectiveness. However, much has changed in the learning landscape over the past year. The training delivery methods that were once some of the most reliable options are no longer effective in the current business environment.
One of the biggest changes impacting learners today is the shift to online working environments. Many employees now work remotely, changing the training methods that best suit their needs. Although the learning landscape has undergone major changes, blended learning is here to stay, but it looks a little differently than it did just a year ago.
Blended learning is just as it sounds. It is an instructional design method where a blend of training styles is integrated into a professional development program. Before Covid19, most blended programs followed the 70/20/10 framework. In this model, 70% of training is designed using experiential training delivery methods. 20% is designed using social forms of training. The final 10% is designed using formal methods of training such as face-to-face instructor-led courses.
The spread of Covid19 significantly impacted the way we work and learn. A large part of the workforce moved into remote roles for increased safety. The Mckinsey Company reported that nearly 50% of corporate instructor-led training stopped in 2020 (1). In the beginning, business leaders thought that these changes were temporary, but as time moved on, adjustments were made. Many were beginning to see improvements in productivity. Remote teams were also cost-effective as there was no longer a need for large office spaces.
Now the focus is no longer on returning to normal but on new plans for increased business agility and resilience. Several industry-leading businesses plan to adopt more workplace models soon. Some businesses plan to continue operating in a remote capacity, while others plan to allow employees to alternate from in and home throughout the week. This shift toward more flexible workplace models has increased the need for permanent remote-friendly training solutions.
We have already begun to see a significant shift away from types of traditional training delivery methods that are dependent on location for participation. Instructor-led training and classroom training sessions are no longer suitable for the modern workplace.
However, the use of a blended approach to developing engaging learning experiences is here to stay. Instructional designers are now designing blended programs using types of training delivery that meet the needs of remote learners. Modern training delivery methods include experiential, social, and alternative formal types of training such as virtual instructor-led courses.
Much like pre-pandemic blended learning programs, it is important to approach learning as a journey and not as a single event. Today blended programs are designed to integrate learning into employee’s flow of work throughout the day. Learning should be continuous. This has become pivotal for modern training programs due to the rapid rate of changing roles and needed skills.
Integrating virtual instruction into your employee training programs can help learners gain many of the same benefits they would receive without the risk of in-person learning. Converting instructor-led materials or developing new training content for virtual instruction can help meet the social and formal training needs of modern learners.
Including interactive elements and activities in your learning programs can significantly improve learner engagement and participation. LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report for 2021 shared that learners who use social features watched 30 times more training content than those who did not (2).
Collaborative elements are also a good way to help employees feel more connected. 37% of employees currently feel less connected to their team members than they did before the pandemic. Chat features, gamification, and activities can make a difference in making connections (2).
Blended online programs work differently than more traditional designs. There are more distractions competing for learner’s attention. Today employees no longer have work-related tasks as distractions but the many distractions that can also come from working in a home office. Utilizing a flipped classroom design where employees learn about a topic before instructor-led sessions can help minimize the time needed for training. It can also help promote more profound and more meaningful discussions regarding the material because everyone will be working from a similar knowledge base.
Blended learning is still a highly effective approach to designing quality corporate training programs today. Integrating a blend of engaging online training methods can help your organization improve employee learning experiences. It can also help increase engagement, knowledge retention and promote a more profound sense of workplace community. Learn more about the current L&D landscape and watch the webinar replay of Navigating Through the Learning Journey with an Online Only Approach.