When it comes to vocational training and education, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Every training sector (industry) has unique requirements and every learner cohort has different set of needs, and goals. When designing training and assessment strategies, is it best to lean toward virtual or the classroom? This rational is not only outdated, but likely ineffective, and in today’s largely work-from-home landscape, it’s also unrealistic.
By deciding your training delivery mode as purely live trainer-led or on-demand, you’ll miss valuable benefits of each methodology. Those who consider a blended approach to learning take advantage of the pros aligned with both methods and can also eliminate the cons that either approach brings to the table.
Here are four reasons why blended learning works well and may be best of all.
- Support learners with different needs. Not all learners have the same learning needs, learning context, or even time available for training, and enclosing people with diverse learning needs into one learning modality results in success for some and failure for others. A blended solution meets a variety of learning and support needs. Research shows the vast majority of VET learners either prefer in-person training alone or a combination of virtual and in-person training. Very few prefer a complete virtual experience.
- The Value of Training Lies in the Design Not the Modality. The value of training always lies in the design. Above all else, the content needs to be aligned with current industry practices (and relevant unit(s) of competency), the skills need to be relevant, and the problems the material solves have to be relevant to the learner’s context. Anything short of this—no matter how clever the delivery method or high-tech the tools—simply isn’t worth the investment.
- Scale Learning. Equipped with traditional classroom learning, live trainer-led online classrooms, and on-demand learning, trainers have the tools to meet learners when and where learning will be most powerful. While the classroom environment is conducive to focused learning, it’s also removed from the equipment, processes, and materials learners use on the job. And for many, lack of hands-on experience can be a learning obstacle. Classroom learning is also unrealistic for shift workers or learners located in remote areas. An important tip for maintaining momentum is to avoid scheduling learning sessions too far apart. While spaced learning is beneficial, too much down time slows momentum and eliminates engagement. People tend to quickly forget what they learned if not given queues, homework assignments, and quick follow-up.
- Technology Queues Learning. When trainers take a “flipped classroom” approach and use on-demand tools like video, benchmark quizzes, and surveys to introduce new principles and skills, they give the learner a head start on skill development. This online preparation is reinforced when learners come together in small groups where the verbal, social, and face-to-face feedback elements of the training can occur.
Blended learning is an opportunity to combine the incredible success that comes from social influence and group discussion with the wild-west flexibility of on-demand or virtual synchronous learning.