You may have already heard of "blended learning", or hybrid learning, or perhaps hybrid training. These terms all relate to the same concept: organisation of training that combines online and face-to-face courses. Although the general idea started to be applied in the early 1960s, the term blended learning emerged only at the beginning of the twenty-first century.
How can we define blended learning?
There is no precise definition. Many methods have emerged and each of them follows the same general concept but the amount of online or face-to-face instruction is not clearly defined. It is up to each trainer to find the most relevant formula, according to the goals to achieve and the group of learners. There are, however, some key elements to include:
rotation: learners switch from online to face-to-face courses
flexible: learning is mainly done online and the trainer jumps in in a personalised way, according to the needs of each person
à la carte: learners choose the setting of some part of the courses (online or face-to-face)
laboratory: the courses are done online but in a common place for all participants, allowing the trainer to intervene when needed
Why implement blended learning?
The objective of blended learning is to better involve learners. By allowing them to work online before, most often via e-learning tools, facilitators can focus on interactions during face-to-face sessions. After viewing the theory online, participants can put into practice what they have learned once in a session with the trainer and their peers. Face-to-face meetings are no longer lectures but offer opportunities for exchange and discussions.
Benefits of blended learning
According to advocates of this method, blended learning makes training more effective thanks to a better involvement of learners. They play an active role in the process and therefore, can be more engaged in the learning process. Blended learning also makes face-to-face sessions more dynamic, as the number and quality of interactions between facilitator and participants increase significantly.
Also, thanks to the flexibility, learners have the opportunity to organise their time as they wish when learning online.
Blended learning allows you to customise training for a large group. This is an opportunity for the trainer to help each person to progress through a more individual approach.
Disadvantages of blended learning
Hybrid training cannot be effective if it is not delivered with quality tools. Online courses should be easily accessible to each participant: not everyone is comfortable with technology. They must also be easy to understand, in order to prevent one or more learners from dropping the training.
The involvement of each learner is also crucial. Blended learning cannot have positive effects if participants are not motivated.
Finally, the trainer might be challenged by the multiplication of tools and methods. The preparation time for online courses can be longer than for face-to-face courses, and it is necessary to rethink the approach during face-to-face sessions to avoid redundancies.