Blended learning has been around for about two decades. It came into being when trainers and instructional designers realized that CBT and web-based training wasn’t suitable for every training topic, while at the same time offering exclusively face-to-face instruction was cost prohibitive. The obvious solution was to do a little of both, depending on the content and the circumstances.
Initially, blended learning was about mixing on-site training delivery with a few web-based lessons to support or enrich the in-person experience. Today there is greater emphasis on picking a learning strategy that best fits the learning objectives. Every year, blended learning gets better, with new options and techniques. Let’s look at a few of the recent trends.
Online Collaboration Tools
Blended learning isn’t just “one way” delivery of content. Increasingly, instructional designers are using online collaboration tools to engage learners, and to some extent customize the delivery of the training. These tools help employees collaborate across departments and locations more efficiently.
Easy to Access Microlearning
Microlearning is a trend by itself, as well as a tool used in blended learning. It is a way to deliver content in small, concise, and very specific chunks. Nearly as important as the size of the lesson is the timing of delivery. Learners are in complete control of when they access the information.
Having a short attention span used to be frowned upon. Now, which so much competing content, it’s the new normal. Millennials, in particular, have an average attention span of just 90 seconds. Instructional designers have adjusted by creating short, micro learning modules. Some of these can be only five minutes in length, and cover one specific idea or objective. They can be completed in small increments of time between other projects.
Using Smart Phones for Learning
Along with micro learning, designers have realized how many learners access content from their smart phones. This requires greater emphasis on formatting for a small screen, but otherwise has the same functionality as a laptop or iPad.
Maximizing the Impact of Onsite Training with Technology Follow-up
When learners do participate in onsite training, it’s important to get the most out of the time and expense. This is best accomplished with some form of follow-up using digital technology. It can be as simple as an email summary, or as complex as an online assessment. Either way, it’s no longer “one and done” when it comes to attending face-to-face learning events.