Blended learning is one of the most efficient learning and development strategies around. That’s because it gives learners the “best of both worlds” by combining the benefits of e-learning and conventional classroom learning.
When you blend e-learning with classroom learning, you create an immersive learning environment in which learners have continual access and exposure to educational content. E-learning makes it easier and more convenient for learners to access information outside the classroom. At the same time, the face-to-face interactions that take place inside the classroom help strengthen the message and give learners a chance to interact in person with their instructors and peers.
If your organization is considering the switch to blended learning, or if you’re looking for ways to improve your current blended learning strategy, check out these five best practices. These creative approaches will give you some ideas and inspiration for boosting learning efficiency even more with your blended learning program.
1. Online office hours
Some students are intimidated by the classroom setting. They may not like to speak in front of a crowd, or they may simply be uncomfortable with asking a question in front of others. Sometimes, they may also need to speak one-on-one with their instructor, to talk about personal learning difficulties or other private matters.
An “online office” gives learners access to their instructors in a comfortable, low-threshold setting. This helps strengthen the bond between learners and the instructor by creating an easy line of communication. As a result, the learner is likelier to engage with the content and get the personal attention they need.
How does it work? Schedule a few hours throughout the week in which the trainer will be at his or her computer to respond to incoming questions from students. Students may submit their questions by e-mail, instant messaging or even videoconferencing. Just make sure that you choose a medium that will enable the teacher to divide his or her time equally among any students who are trying to get in touch.
2. “Flip” the classroom
Interactivity is a crucial factor in getting learners to engage with content. Many students dislike the classroom setting because they feel like the communication is too one-sided. The teacher does a lot of lecturing, and, if there’s any time left over, there may be a Q&A round at the end.
A “flipped” classroom reverses all of this. In a flipped model, non-interactive activities are shifted to the web. Students can watch a pre-recorded lecture, presentation or instructional video via their online learning platform before coming to class. Then, precious classroom time can be fully devoted to discussions, answering questions and developing ideas in a group setting.
3. Provide instant feedback with e-learning tools
Similar to lectures, conventional testing and assessment methods are often perceived as one-sided. The learner completes the test, hands it in and then has to wait before they even find out how well they performed. The whole time, they’re left in the dark, which can make them feel anxious about the results.
This is no longer necessary thanks to e-learning assessment tools. Now, many e-learning platforms enable you to provide instant feedback. So, when a learner answers a question on a test or assessment, the platform automatically provides feedback. It can congratulate them for answering correctly or inform them that they’ve got the answer wrong and explain why.
4. Use performance tracking to improve content
Modern e-learning platforms enable educators to easily analyze their learners’ performance. This helps instructors to identify learning trends. For example, if a large percentage of learners are failing to answer specific questions correctly on an assessment, the teacher can take action by offering more information on that topic during the next classroom session.
This is actually a proven method from conventional education, but digital performance tracking greatly speeds up the process. Instead of the teacher having to individually review every student’s assessments, a good e-learning platform can automatically track and report performance statistics. This makes it much easier and more efficient for teachers to spot important trends.
5. Create an interactive community of online learners
Lastly, blended learning opens up the classroom and brings it into the learner’s home. This strengthens the sense of community among learners as never before. Modern learners are often very skilled at navigating online communities such as their social media networks. This gives teachers a lot of potential for keeping learners engaged.
Try thinking of group assignments that encourage learners to interact with each other both on and off the e-learning platform. Some great activities include hosting an online discussion, producing and posting a podcast or creating a wiki-style knowledge base where learners contribute and build upon each other’s work. The result is a continuous, immersive learning experience that enhances classroom training.