The transition to blended learning is happening now
Most organizations have an average training completion rate of 20-30%.  This is disappointingly low. Too many competing demands, busy schedules, and poor completion for employees who don’t have the space to learn the way they want.
But if the Great Resignation has taught us anything, it’s that employees want development opportunities that lead to more fulfilling work. So many organizations are now looking to better support employees with different learning methods to make learning accessible, fun and engaging.
As cultural changes and new ways of working evolve, so must our approach to learning. One way to do this is through a new kind of blended learning approach – one that supports more collaboration, flexibility and personalization than ever before.
Read on to learn more about asynchronous vs. synchronous learning, what to look for in an LMS, and why a collaborative learning approach is important for organizations looking to promote collective learning.
Transition to blended learning
Traditional blended learning combination:
- In-person, live, instructor-led training sessions
- Digital online learning sessions that may include audios, videos, and other media-rich support resources
- Structured self-study time based on live classroom sessions and online learning materials
Today, business and technology are evolving more rapidly than ever, so learning must be just as light on its feet. Fortunately, organizations have an opportunity to completely rethink their approach to blended learning to keep up with these changing times.
Even before the shift to remote work, experts highlighted the importance of collaboration and digital connectivity rather than traditional top-down training. Today, employees demand more from their learning—but whether it’s in-person or online, it’s not possible to get it from top-down training.
The blended element of learning—splitting training into two elements—is worth preserving, but what if we stopped thinking about learning in terms of physical versus digital and, instead, found a framework that better fits the pattern of how people learn, work, and consume content. today?
New blended learning should combine:
- Synchronous collaborative learning (such as live video sessions and collaborative workshops in breakout rooms)
- Asynchronous collaborative learning (such as collaborative learning platforms and peer feedback on projects)
This new approach focuses on which learning experiences should be synchronous and which should be asynchronous, with collaboration as a key factor in both cases.
The best tools for building effective blended learning programs
Whether you’re educating leaders on the value of soft skills, providing on-the-job training to sales reps, or onboarding new hires, you need practical training tools centered around collaboration. Today, a learner’s experience is only as good as a training toolkit.
So, what tools do you need at your disposal to build this new type of blended learning program? Here, we share our top 5.
1. A learning management system
The right Learning Management System (LMS) allows you to create, manage and deliver eLearning content. Organizations use LMSs to manage and scale their online learning programs.
According to a Deloitte report, the average employee only has time to dedicate 1% of their work week to skill development – that’s about five minutes each day in a 40-hour work week. 
An effective, high-quality LMS can make it possible to schedule blended learning with different modalities over days or weeks to increase learning retention and better fit into busy staff schedules.
With an LMS, employees can engage in their own learning at their own time and place. And software can automatically track employees’ progress. This enables L&D managers to check on those who paused at certain points to determine if the training module was too difficult, too long, or if they forgot to continue.
2. A webinar platform
Webinars are the perfect synchronous approach to bridge the gap between online training and in-person sessions. It’s a happy medium that can help get the combination right and, therefore, an ideal fit for a blended learning environment. People can ask questions, interact (whether it’s peer-to-instructor or peer-to-peer), and webinars can be recorded for people who can’t attend.
Webinars have the flexibility to be cost-efficient for small and large audiences. Having a platform to conduct virtual learning sessions is important to enable group participation as part of a blended learning program.
Platforms like Zoom and Livestorm are great for increasing engagement, especially since they have chat and poll functions, pre and post surveys, and break-out rooms that allow small groups of people to collaborate and share knowledge.
The best way to make webinars part of the necessary blended learning tools is to schedule them in advance at a time convenient for everyone to avoid conflict. Also, you should send timely reminders of the session outlining what will be discussed before the date. That way, team members have enough time to do background research on the topic and are prepared to participate by asking questions they want to ask.
Once the webinar is over, you ask the teams to follow-up on how the training was and if any questions were not answered during the session.
3. Video software
Training videos reduce costs and facilitate learners to learn at their own pace. Video platforms like Vyond and Powtoon enable anyone to create effective training videos. But be sure to choose the right video format to share your subject matter expertise. The most effective types of videos in learning are:
- Storytelling – You can use the video storytelling format to share your company’s mission, core values, or a day in the life of your colleagues. This makes for a great learning experience as part of your onboarding program.
- Screen Recording Explainer Videos – Typically a recording of an instructor’s screen demonstrating specific software features along with audio narration, screen recordings are highly effective in enabling teaching workflows.
- Live Videos – Some sessions always benefit from live support, especially from a subject matter expert. Facebook Live’s feature is a good example of live video used to stream sessions that create opportunities for students to connect, ask questions, and provide feedback.
- Interactive Videos – Interactive videos break the monotony and engage viewers instead of passively consuming videos. Typically, this is done by using engagement prompts like questions, quizzes, and sparking a dialogue in your videos.
Top tip: Since videos can be a key part of your content creation strategy, be sure to consider an LMS that makes it easy to embed videos into your courses.
4. A writing instrument
An authoring tool is a program that helps you design a digital course and publish it in desired formats. Instead of creating a course through codes or in-house developers, an authoring tool enables you to create a course with drag-and-drop as well as other user-friendly interfaces and upload the content to the learning platform of your choice.
While a standalone authoring tool allows those with little to no coding or developer skills to easily and quickly create digital courses, learning management systems with built-in authoring capabilities make it even easier to scale content creation.
An authoring tool is essential to support collaborative learning cultures because it enables anyone to create a course. This means subject matter experts can share their knowledge and incorporate peer feedback to become a true learning organization.
5. A collaborative learning platform
Collaborative learning is a training approach where employees share their expertise and knowledge, teaching and learning from each other. This group learning enhances the learning experience by capitalizing on the ideas, skills, and institutional knowledge of each team member.
Collaborative learning is one of the keys to effective blended learning and is part of a larger trend toward more interdependence. Companies are transitioning from hierarchical top-down management styles to high-responsibility, low-authority models. Today, people rely more on teamwork than individual project ownership for better results.
Unlike traditional corporate training, collaborative learning is fast, democratized, iterative, relevant, and impact-driven—all beneficial to blended learning.
Collaboration is at the heart of blended learning
Personal training can be difficult to implement as you have to manage different schedules. Online learning can also be inefficient, as it’s more challenging to keep teams engaged. But with these five blended learning tools that promote collaboration both asynchronously and synchronously, you create an effective, dual environment that reaps all the benefits and has little to no drawbacks. That’s why L&D teams are seeing it as a mandatory approach to improving course completion rates.
Ready to learn more about how collaborative learning works in practice? Get in touch with the experts at 360Learning to learn more.
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