Blended learning is delivered through a combination of face-to-face and online techniques. This is an extremely popular course delivery format—and with good reason. A study done by the U.S. Department of Education revealed that students in blended courses outperformed both the fully online students and the face-to-face students.
One key benefit of blended learning is that learners and instructors can take advantage of the flexibility and convenience of an online course while retaining the benefits of the face-to-face classroom experience. However, for your learners to get a truly beneficial blended learning experience, you need to create the best possible course.
Follow these 5 best practices to improve the blended learning experience and increase learner engagement.
- Keep Your Eye on the Target
Before you develop a blended learning course, you need to define your intended learning outcomes. Once you’ve identified the learning outcomes, you can brainstorm online and in-class activities that support those goals. Remember, all activities should be able to be assessed for knowledge acquisition at the end of the course. Develop a plan to blend your online and in-class learning activities together cohesively.
- Use Engaging Content
Online content needs to be more than a recorded lecture or PowerPoint presentation available for download. It needs to be engaging, interactive and complement the in-class learning. Consistency is crucial when blending different types of learning together. Set some guidelines to encourage interaction, like requiring learners to reply to at least 3 discussion posts or setting a minimum response length.
- Practice and Application
When taking courses online, people need the opportunity to come together and practice the skills they’re learning, as well as receive feedback from others. This is key for their own self-assessment and your evaluation of how well they are achieving the learning outcomes. For instance, you could have your students watch a video online before class and then focus the in-class discussion on the video. Another method would be to use online discussions as a way to carry on the conversation from class.
Keep an open dialogue with your learners. Get their feedback on aspects of the course they like, and be prepared to adjust if certain elements of the course or delivery aren’t working for your learners. In addition, make sure to have upper management communicate their support of the blended learning format. Your learners will be more engaged if they know their boss values and supports the courses they’re taking and the delivery method.
- Be Prepared for Complexity
Developing a successful blended learning program isn’t always a piece of cake. Factors that you’ll need to address include technology requirements, tracking, deciding which content to deliver, promoting learner buy-in and other issues. It requires the right tools, like Lectora® e-Learning software and ReviewLink™ for course development and collaboration, as well as careful planning. If possible, test your blended learning course on a small group of users before rolling it out to your entire organization, so you can work out any kinks.
Follow these 5 best practices and soon you’ll be a pro at creating effective blended learning. Check out the Lectora e-Learning Blog or Lectora University for more great e-Learning tips, tricks and video resources!
Christie Wroten graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University with a bachelor's degree in English and Writing. When she's not writing about e-Learning, Christie enjoys traveling or playing piano and guitar.