What Is Blended Learning?

 ’Blended learning’  can mean any training programme that uses different methods to teach the same subject so of course it’s nothing new to any good trainer. It’s also completely natural to us as learners. Think about how you would go about learning a language for example. You’ll almost certainly get a phrasebook or dictionary, some e-learning or audio CD’s perhaps? And maybe you’ll enrol on a short course. If funds allow, I’m sure that a holiday to practice your new skills will be pretty high up on your list too. (Any excuse!)

 These days the term ‘Blended Learning’ is usually used to describe a training course which combines some form of e-learning and classroom training. Here are some examples:

  • Coaching course: Pre- course questionnaire; e-learning to cover the theory and basic skills; classroom session to enable facilitated practice and role play. On -line assessment . Job aids and reading list also provided.
  • Beginner’s IT course : Classroom session to cover the basics and e-learning programme to take students to a higher level of competence over the next 12 months. On line assessment and downloadable job aids are also included.
  • Presentation skills: two elearning courses to cover : (1) theory and preparation; (2) how to use powerpoint. Project – create  presentations and develop slides using powerpoint. Workshop to put it all into practice using the project the delegates did in the interim.

Why Blended learning?
Research tells us that simply employing more than one learning method increases the learning that takes place. If you think about it, it’s obvious that this would be the case. Even just saying something again in a different way will help more people understand and retain your message. So, maybe I should say that again – using multiple learning methods increase learning :-)

There are many reasons why a mix of learning interventions increases learning:


Using a different method makes the repetition more interesting and less patronising. It also increases the chances of everyone hearing and understanding your message. It reinforces the message at a later date.

Guards against ineffective training.

If one method is ineffective that’s obviously not good. What if a trainer is having an off day? The training won’t be up to scratch. Using other methods also spreads your risk and although your programme will be adversly affected if any part of it doesn’t work, it’s better than it being the only method.

Continuity and retention

Learning is usually spread over a longer time frame which can help transfer it to long term memory, deepen understanding and allow for practice and reflection in between learning events.

So, with relying purely on classroom training we really are missing out on valuable opportunities to help people to transfer learning to action.  If classroom training is combined with other newer forms of learning such as e-learning and webinars then it makes it easier for staff to adapt to the changes and is a useful enabler of culture change.

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