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Blended Training: Have You Charted Your Course?

Blended training has attracted lots of interest in the learning community. As is often the case with new ideas that generate broad interest and discussion, people have slightly different perspectives on what the concept means. For this post, think of blended training (or blended learning) as some combination of individual online education that is paired with any of several types of group or face-to-face instruction or learning activities.

In blended training, for example, students might be asked to:

  • Master foundational material by completing one or several online courses before
  • Participating in a live, interactive discussion, either face-to-face or virtually

Advocates of blended training point to several advantages compared to more traditional face-to-face instruction. These advantages can include:

  • Lower training costs
  • Convenience and improved learner access
  • Simultaneous self-paced, independent learning and collaborative learning
  • Improved learner satisfaction
  • Attraction to the group sometimes referred to as “digital natives” or “millennials” – those born in the last twenty years or so who are technology-adept and heavy users of mobile devices

Formal research suggests that when comparing online training/blended training to more traditional face-to-face instruction, learning outcomes from online training are at least as good as, and often better than face-to-face training.

Relias wanted to get some insights into the adoption of blended training in the various provider communities that we serve. As part of a national, online “State of Training Study”, we asked survey respondents to tell us the extent to which blended training is put to use at their organization. Although there were some minor differences across all of the markets we serve, the similarities were more apparent than the differences. Globally, around one-third reported “little or no use” of blended training; just below one-half reported “some use”; and around 20% reported “extensive use.” The most robust rate of adoption of blended training appeared to be in the senior care and home health/hospice provider communities.

We all like simple answers to difficult questions and simple remedies for challenging problems – “Just take this one pill and all of your (training) problem symptoms will be gone in the morning.”. The clear advantages of the blended training approach suggest that over time, the group that today reports “little or no use” will shrink, while the groups that report “some use” or extensive use” will grow. We believe that the weight of the research evidence and real-world experience strongly supports the wisdom of moving away from exclusive reliance on traditional face-to-face classroom instruction, and charting a course that incorporates the strategy of blended training.

Keep in mind that medium alone (in this case, online courses) doesn’t guarantee success. The quality of the content delivered through the medium matters a great deal. It also matters how thoughtfully organizations pair follow up interactive activities with foundational material that is taught online.

We believe that thoughtfully using the advantages that technology affords can help provider organizations chart a course toward improved learner satisfaction, improved learning outcomes, and improved organizational performance in a world that increasingly requires results in all three domains.

To learn more about our key findings, download one of our industry-specific reports:

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