For decades, primary and secondary schools have been building blended learning into their classrooms. Children have lectures, group discussions, projects, homework, field trips, video, and online enrichment — the list only grows longer as technology changes.
Corporate education, however, has been far less progressive. It’s not a case of shunning new learning philosophies or educational technology. It’s more of a case of, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But blended learning isn’t about fixing broken educational models. It’s about making old educational models even better.
What is Blended Learning?
Blended learning is a method of curriculum development that empowers students to learn through 3 different types of education: applied or practical experience, formal or traditional teaching, and interaction with peers.
Best practices for blended learning suggest at 70:20:10 ratio for these 3 types of education, with students spending 70% of their learning time applying the theories they’ve been taught, 20% of their learning time working with others, and 10% of their learning time focused on their teacher.
What’s Wrong with Corporate Education Today?
Traditional corporate education tends to mean one of 2 things: either a day-long (or days-long) course that relentlessly drills on a single subject for 8 hours straight, or an afternoon seminar that’s forgotten about as soon as the conference room empties at 5 p.m. Both are staples of corporate culture, large and small, but neither are particularly useful.
Why? In the first example, employees are presented with an overwhelming amount of information over too short a time period to digest and retain it. In the second, employees aren’t given a chance to consider the topic in any depth, and there typically aren’t follow-up programs to support continued thought or learning once the seminar ends. Both, then, become a waste of time and resources. What, then, is the solution?
Enter blended learning.
How Corporate Education Programs Benefit from Blended Learning
Blended learning brings the best of learning theory and education technology to every program it touches. It’s innately flexible, which means that you can adapt a program to any environment, workforce, or corporate culture. And best of all, it emphasizes real, actionable results rather than pass/fail test scores, which means that businesses will see returns on their investment in corporate education.
Here are 5 ways blended learning is a boon for corporate education and training programs:
1. Allows More Flexibility
Blended learning programs tend to include a significant online classroom component, with recorded video or audio lectures and assigned reading that students can complete whenever it’s most convenient for them. This sort of autonomy lets employees work around their busy 9-to-5 and personal schedules—and take courses at their own speed, allowing for further self-exploration and consideration than a typical in-person class would offer.
2. Reduces Stress with Shorter, Low-Risk Learning
Employees have never been more stressed than they are right now. They’ve also never been sicker, which — in addition to lowering productivity, morale, and happiness in general — also increases costs. Blended learning makes necessary training less stressful because it tends to incorporate “snackable” content, or shorter lessons that can be absorbed in much less time than a traditional training session. That means employees aren’t worried about squeezing in learning or about missing too much work.
3. Improves Retention of Material
A successful blended learning program will string together shorter lessons over a longer period time. This maintains the real-time impact that an education program has on productivity and employee stress levels while keeping students continually engage with the material in different ways. Each time a student interacts with the material, they’re deepening their understanding of it and increasing the likelihood that they’ll remember it for longer than they would if it had been presented through a more traditional educational experience.
4. Improves Application of Material
The bulk of blended learning focuses on students actually doing whatever it is they’re learning about. In fact, given the 70:20:10 formula, there’s far more “doing” than there is talking about theory. Because blended learning provides a controlled environment for practical application, students can experiment with different methods and develop confidence in their skills without the fear of failing in a real-world, high-stakes scenario.
5. Broadens Peer-to-Peer Learning Opportunities
Research shows that we learn from teaching and collaborating with others. The more we encourage people to do this at all ages and levels, the more capable they become in their own studies and work. In addition to aiding in retention, peer-to-peer learning also enables students to form professional relationships with each other, often spanning across departments, office locations, corporations, and industries. In a globalized world, that’s essential.
Carrie Doyle is a Strategic Business Partner at CCL’s San Diego campus. She is fascinated with the art and science of learning. In particular, Carrie has been a big proponent of learning in all modalities, including Blended Learning, which is why she is a campus advocate in San Diego for Blended Learning along with colleagues Kelly Simmons (head SME) and Jessica Mercado. Read more of Carrie’s writing on LinkedIn.