Last year was many things, but we can at least say it was educational. Whether you’ve been managing remote teams, online classrooms, or working solo, the sudden switch to working — and learning — from home has forced us all to adapt.
Organizations are embracing the move to work and learn from anywhere, and perhaps we might welcome digital a little more going forwards — starting with blended learning.
What Exactly Is Blended Learning?
If we look at the definition of blended learning, there’s a strong emphasis on the student having more control over the learning process than in classroom learning.
That’s more than just being able to take a course at a time that suits them — it means being able to pick specific modules or classes that align with their interests, rather than forcing them to undertake a central curriculum.
This kind of freedom often just isn’t possible in traditional learning — it can be less cost-effective as well as hard to find a specialist in the area.
There are multiple variations of blended learning, but probably the most useful in an office-based scenario is “outside-in” blended learning. Here, participants engage with the course material at their own pace, culminating in a classroom-type meeting where knowledge is demonstrated and shared. This allows team members to pass along the basics of their newfound expertise to one another.
Imagine that you’d like your marketing team to delve further into lead generation strategies.
Rather than forcing them all to do the same class and treating your entire marketing team to a treatise on TikTok, blended learning means that the whole team can take core classes, while interested parties can pursue TikTok separately.
Other (relieved) team members might opt for a class on customer retention strategies using email data, or how to make the eCommerce process more experiential for customers.
Not only does this mean you’ll have a team that are more engaged in their learning and more appreciative of your effort — it also means you’ll have a more rounded team. One TikTok expert is probably enough, anyway.
You might want to be flexible in your planning, then — engage employees in conversation about which skills they’d actually like to learn, and how they see them aligning with both their career goals and your business ideals.
What are the Benefits of Blended Learning?
You’ll no doubt have considered how to make your office as efficient as possible — for example, implementing a regular stand up meeting.
What you might not have considered is how to make your employees as engaged — and therefore as mentally efficient — as possible.
This is becoming ever more important as new generations begin to dominate the workforce: 30% of millennials surveyed by Deloitte thought the onus for preparing employees in necessary skills was on employers.
Meanwhile, the top reason for changing careers for the 18–54 age group in 2018 was the opportunity for career development.
So, we know that people want to be learning and progressing. But how can we ensure that our learning and development scheme works for everyone?
Enter blended learning. It’s flexible by nature — both in terms of courses and paths employees could follow and in terms of when they can complete the classes.
It’s also more budget-friendly, meaning you can offer a higher-quality development scheme at a lower or similar cost to an entirely in-person one.
Plus, a workforce that has the time and space to learn as they desire is likely to be a much more satisfied one.
You can use this to your advantage: try to work out which skills your business is going to find essential over the coming years, and offer your employees the chance to train in them.
Future-proofing skills like cybersecurity are all the rage at the moment as the world edges towards a more digital future, but the classics — leadership, communication — are always going to be in favor, too.
Is Blended Learning Relevant to Me?
You might well think that learning ends when you leave formal education, but that just isn’t true. LinkedIn found that 96% of learning and development (L&D) professionals reckon that employee experience is of tantamount importance.
That same survey goes on to say that companies who offer employee training see a rate of attrition that is 53% lower than that of their contemporaries.
It can certainly strengthen the perception of your startup to have bold development schemes. Startups often can’t offer the same levels of competitive salaries as their larger counterparts. To make up for it, they can offer rapid and effective career progression — and that is where a good learning and development scheme comes into it.
In our rapidly evolving world, there are new skills to learn every month. You can do courses on anything from YouTube video maker and LinkedIn analytics to implementing robots in your business.
And as your employees grow, so can your business. Unusual skills might become useful as technology improves, or you might just find yourself in need of an HR manager who knows the ins and outs of marketing.
Either way, implementing a learning scheme has been shown to increase employee dedication and the length of tenure. So, you avoid having to hire — at great cost — and you have a workforce that is ready for anything life throws at them.
Blended learning is a great way to ensure people are engaged and yet still flexible enough to make it work for everyone.
How Do I Implement Blended Learning in my Workplace?
You might want to get to grips with webinar basics, as they’re likely to feature rather a lot!
Before that, though, it’s so important that you have a solid development plan in place. You need to know what skills your business needs, and which employees could potentially master them.
You also need to know which skills your employees think will most benefit their careers, and ponder whether that might ever be an asset to your company.
You’ll probably also need a learning and development leader: having someone to quiz about which courses are available will mean that employees have a much better idea of what is on offer — especially when blended learning opens up so many more options than face-to-face.
If you’re an SME, you might also want to look into small business phone systems. Having one in place will mean that your employees can chat to course leaders about any challenges they’re facing in the classes, as well as communicate with colleagues about their blended learning progress.
This might well encourage others to try a similar course, especially if you have a mentorship scheme in place as well.
The Infinite Possibilities of Blended Learning
Embracing the digital and jumping headfirst into blended learning might well be the best thing we take from the Covid pandemic.
Useful far beyond the school years, it can help create more positive and interesting workplaces, ones geared towards personal evolution and career progression.
Perhaps as a society, we’ll become more enlightened — or maybe we’ll just have a broader range of skills at our disposal.
Either way, this hybrid model that combines the support of in-person learning with the ease and versatility of online, asynchronous learning makes workplace development more accessible than ever.
We’re hoping to see many more blended learning programs appearing over the next few years — and who knows what we can achieve when they do. Learn more about Cybint’s various blended learning programs, such as our Cybint Bootcamp for universities and Workshops and Enterprise Solutions for corporate training.