While there is no denying that online learning has brought about incredible convenience and flexibility in our lives, one cannot discount the importance of in-person programs. Studies have shown that active, instructor-led classrooms have a greater impact on learning than their virtual alternative. In-person learning is also known to encourage interpersonal development, boost academic achievement, and minimize distractions that a home environment brings.
But then again, the ease and accessibility brought about by eLearning is unmatched and many learners prefer asynchronous learning over in-person programs. So what should an organization choose if they’re looking to create effective learning solutions? Thankfully, there is a solution that can bridge the gap between online and in-person learning and put our dilemma to rest.
Blended learning, as the name suggests, incorporates elements of in-person as well as virtual instruction. Organizations can use their Learning Management Systems to create blended learning environments in order to get the best of both worlds. In this article, we will discuss the ways in which you can leverage your LMS to create learning solutions that support this union. But before we do that, let’s bring some clarity to the concept of blended learning.
Understanding Blended Learning
There are three key components that must be present in order for a learning experience to be labeled ‘blended’. First off, some aspect of the learning process must be delivered asynchronously online, where an element of control is given to the learner. The idea is for students to leverage online tools to vary the path, pace, or medium of instruction in a way that allows them to learn according to their preferences.
Next, blended learning must also include an in-person component. In-person learning can be delivered in a physical classroom or via online lectures and webinars. It is important to note, that although students here may be learning through online tools like Zoom, the in-person learning aspect still applies since the learning is synchronous.
Finally, and most importantly, the online and in-person modules must come together in a cohesive way. Having an integrated learning environment, where both components are coordinated is what makes blended learning work. What this really means is that the face-to-face and virtual modules are not designed to be alternatives, rather both must be taken in order to get a complete understanding of the subject matter.
This is also where hybrid learning differs from blended learning. In hybrid learning, some learners choose to take physical lessons, while others may choose the virtual track. Blended learning, on the other hand, incorporates both.
Leveraging Your LMS for Blended Learning Support
Provide Support for Virtual Classrooms
Allowing learners to virtually attend lectures and webinars right from within the LMS is perhaps the most useful way to incorporate blended learning. Organizations can leverage their existing LMS tools or integrate third-party applications that enable live streaming (like using LTIs to integrate Zoom or GoToWebinar) and student participation via a chat feature. On top of that, learners can also be given the option to record and playback these videos, or even choose to listen to them in a podcast format.
Virtual classroom support allows learners to leverage the flexibility that comes with online learning. In present times, this approach comes in handy when employees and students adopt a hybrid work/study model. Learners can attend live lectures whether they’re at home or at their desks. In the event that they’re unable to make time, they can always view recordings and get up to speed as their schedule allows.
Incorporate a Variety of Learning Mediums
Giving learners the option to choose from a variety of rich media increases their engagement and encourages learning. Organizations can embed their online modules with relevant articles, videos, games, and other resources that disrupt the monotony that is inevitably created by long video lectures or readings. Having a range of learning mediums available at their disposal allows students to experiment and eventually determine what mode of learning works best for them.
Allow Seamless Scheduling and Course Management
Often, much of the talk surrounding blended learning is focused on the online component. But it is also important to talk about ways in which the in-person aspect can be better managed to complement the online portion of the courses. Learning Management Systems can be of great help in this regard.
Depending on the LMS you’ve selected, instructors may be able to plan and schedule in-person lectures directly on the LMS in advance and make that information easily accessible to all students. In this way, all learners are made aware of the course schedule and can plan ahead. It is also beneficial for students to know what the overall course outline looks like and what learning objectives they can hope to achieve out of each lecture. Having clarity on the course content can help provide learners with structure.
Create Dedicated Learning Paths
Giving learners control over their own learning is central to the theme of blended learning. Learners report greater satisfaction from training that involves their input in some way. To address this, LMS platforms can be leveraged to create personalized learning paths for each student. Based on past performance, interests, and future goals, learners can be allowed to view all the possible learning paths available to them and figure out what works best for them.
Include Diverse Assessment Types
Much like the importance of incorporating a variety of learning mediums, creating a range of assessment types is also a great way to make blended learning possible. Instructors can switch between timed, in-person assessments based on online content or self-paced assignments that quiz students on the material learned face-to-face. Blending the online and in-person content and assessing learners in different ways is a great way to gauge how well the students respond to material presented online versus in person.
Encourage Learner Interaction
Depending on how it is implemented, social learning can be a great way to encourage blended learning in the classroom as well as the workplace. By encouraging learners to interact with each other, whether in-person or online, it is possible to create a much more effective learning environment. As the University of Waterloo explains, social learning can also be implemented synchronously, through face-to-face or online chat, or asynchronously, via tools like Open Response Assessments and discussion boards.
Get Insights from Reports
LMS platforms come with insightful reporting tools that can help shape the blended learning strategy that an instructor applies to their course. By looking at student performance across online and in-person modules, it is possible to determine which groups of students respond best to particular modes of learning. And based on these insights, it is possible to create tailored learning journeys for each learner, which focus more on the type of instruction they respond positively to.
Develop Your Blended Learning Strategy with Edly
As the world shifts to a compromise between the physical and virtual interactions, so should our learning solutions. Blended learning allows a unique approach to learning, where the advantages of face-to-face and distance learning can both be leveraged at the same time. Fortunately, incorporating blended learning in your organization does not require any special tools or apparatus. With dedicated planning, corporations and higher education institutions can use their existing LMS platforms to incorporate these elements and experience all the benefits blended learning brings to their learners.
In order to develop precise, effective, and thoughtful blended learning solutions, getting the right expertise is crucial. Edly, with its dedicated team of eLearning experts, can help you incorporate the precise blend of in-person and online resources that you need. With tools like LTIs, control over pacing, and course scheduling, Edly can combine its in-house expertise with out-of-the-box features to help you deliver blended learning the way that you want.
If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help you leverage blended learning in your LMS, feel free to get in touch with us and request a free demo!